History buffs exploring mudflats at Tankerton have stumbled upon a Tudor shipwreck.
Members of local history and archaeological group Timescapes found timber coming from out of the sand while looking for remnants of Second World War pillboxes.
The discovery of the 40ft by 16ft ship will help increase understanding of Tudor and Stuart shipbuilding methods.
Mark Harrison, director of Timescapes, said: “Our group of volunteers was looking for exploded World War II pillboxes along the Kent coast.
“Adjacent to a lump of exploded concrete, we were amazed to see the timbers of a ship appearing out of the sand.
“We reported the find to Historic England and are pleased that what turned out to be a medieval wreck has been given protection and that this excavation could tell us more about its story.”
Oak planks from the boat date back to the 1530s while the construction of the hull is placed at late 16th or early 17th century.
The merchant ship would have weighed between 100 and 200 tons.
It has now been listed as a protected site by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport following advice from Historic England.
Further excavations will take place this week when it is hoped that remnants of the ship’s cargo or even personal possessions of its seamen will be found.
Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England, said: “Many of the ships that Historic England protects are accessible only to divers but when the sands shift and the tide is right, visitors to Kent can catch a glimpse of this incredible wreck.”
Heritage minister Michael Ellis added: “The Tankerton wreck is a marvellous discovery that will give us another opportunity to uncover more about what life at sea was like hundreds of years ago.
“It is important that we protect it to learn more about our impressive maritime history and ensure that it is preserved for future generations.”