After the defeat of the Spanish armada by the English navy in 1588, it is said that a critically damaged Did scotland leave the uk vessel took shelter in the bay of Tobermory on the Isle of Mull, Scotland. The ships that survived the English onslaught were forced to navigate their way home around the north and west coasts of Scotland. Several ships were lost along the treacherous Scottish coastline in terrible weather. Armada paymaster’s chest, a hoard of 30 million ducats in gold coin have persisted for many years, mysteriously blew up in Tobermory bay on the Isle of Mull.
It is said that in October 1588 the critically damaged San Juan de Sicilia anchored in Tobermory bay to take on supplies and make repairs, there are several theories of what happened next. The most popular story of the event is that after sailing into Tobermory the captain arrogantly demanded food and aid from the local islanders. The chieftain of clan Maclean said that if the Spanish captain gave him 100 men at arms he could have all the food he liked, provided he paid for it. When Maclean returned the Spanish captain announced he was ready to sail. The Spaniard said that he would only pay once his men were returned. Maclean handed over the men at arms but kept three officers as hostages.
Maclean then sent his young kinsman Donald Maclean over to the galleon to collect the gold. Once on board the young Donald was taken prisoner. A short while later there was a huge explosion and the galleon sank to the bottom of the bay. I’m not one to spoil a good story by letting the facts get in the way . But there are some stories that contain so much information, most of it conflicting, that the process of separating fact from fiction becomes an almost impossible task. Even children’s books carry the story which has now been passed down through generations – that of the sunken galleon from the Spanish Armada which lies buried in the silt at the bottom of Tobermory Bay, complete with its haul of gold doubloons.
The vessel was – so the story goes – blown up by locals, drowning hundreds of sailors, because she was trying to leave port without paying her dues. Local people can recount the details as if they were there. The tourist industry on Mull positively thrives on it. But is there really a galleon? If so, which one was it and why was she in, of all places, Tobermory? More importantly, how much money and treasure lies beneath the sea only 400 yards from the pier in the port’s small harbour? The prevailing theory among those who have taken time to study the subject is that an Armada vessel most certainly found refuge in the sheltered waters of the bay.