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The Great Girona Gold Hunt
28 April 2008
BBC NI 9.00 PM
The story of two remarkable men - separated by 400 years - yet bound together by an amazing adventure here in Ireland.
Together they reveal a new and very human reality to one of the most important maritime events in European history.
Don Alonso Martinez de Levia - Knight of Santiago and Commander of Alcuescar, King Phillip’s favourite and idol of the Spanish people. Already shipwrecked twice on Ireland’s west coast, he gathered the Armada’s surviving noblemen in the Galleass Girona, and swore before God to carry them to safety.
Robert Sténuit is the Belgian trail blazing professional diver and self taught archaeologist, driven by his dreams and determined to find a treasure ship loaded with gold and history in equal measures.
In 1967, the summer of love; heady days for two young Belgian men just arrived in Portballintrae beside the world famous Giant's Causeway.
Robert Sténuit and Marc Jasinski are treasure hunters and fledgling marine archaeologists. They’re looking for gold - Spanish gold. Since he was nineteen Robert has dreamed of finding a treasure ship and he’s convinced one sank somewhere along this rugged North Antrim coast almost 400 years ago - a wreck site well remembered in local legend, but lost in a fog of history and political intrigue.
Robert is on the trail of a man he’s admired for years. A Spanish nobleman and, like Robert himself, an adventurer. Don Alonso Martinez de Levia was the most charismatic commander in ill-fated Spanish Armada. In the autumn of 1588 as many as 25 Spanish warships were wrecked on Ireland’s coastline. Why have Robert and Marc chosen to begin their search here? The answer to that lies in Don Alonzo’s remarkable story.
Over the next three years Robert and Marc will face local hostility as well as challenging diving. They’ll have to fight in the courts and with other divers to protect their finds. For the BBC they’ll produce the first TV documentary made in colour of an underwater archaeological excavation.
They won’t make a fortune selling their treasure on the open market. Quiet diplomacy by Ulster Museum curator Lawrence Flannigan will persuade them to keep the finds together in Belfast. Girona’s Gold - the most valuable and historically important collection of Armada treasures and artefacts held anywhere in the world.
Forty years on Robert Sténuit along with his colleague Marc Jasinski, pioneering underwater film maker, has returned to Port na Spaniagh, now Ireland’s first protected wreck site. They’ve been given special permission to dive and explore the spot they made famous one more time and reveals the intrigue behind his recovery of the greatest haul of Armada treasure ever made.
The Great Girona Gold Hunt is presented by Neil Oliver (BBC Two ‘Coast’ series).
AVI File Details
Name.........: The Great Girona Gold Hunt.avi
Filesize.....: 449 MB (or 460,698 KB or 471,754,752 bytes)
Runtime......: 00:58:55 (88,364 fr)
Video Codec..: XviD
Video Bitrate: 935 kb/s
Audio Codec..: 0x0055(MP3) ID'd as MPEG-1 Layer 3
Audio Bitrate: 128 kb/s (64/ch, stereo) CBR
Frame Size...: 640x368 (1.74:1) [=40:23]
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