Astronomical and navigational instruments, Depth sounding

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Sounding lead and line

Astronomical and navigational instruments

Object connections:

Collection Astronomical and navigational instruments, Depth sounding
Gallery locationNot on display

Object details:

Object ID NAV0681
Description The sounding lead and line is probably one of the oldest of all navigational instruments and was still being used in the 20th century to determine the depth of water beneath a vessel. This was done by lowering it over the side and letting the line out until the lead hit the bottom. By about 1600, the line was marked in fathoms (6ft) with pieces of material. As a further help to navigators, the bottom of the lead was hollowed out and would have some tallow inserted in order to take a sample of the sea-bed. This could help in determining a ship's position.
Date made circa 1900

Artist/Maker Unknown
Place made Unknown
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Measurements Length: 356 mm
  • Sounding lead and line (NAV0681)
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