Norway shipworm

Shipworm tubes from George Montagu’s collection. ‘Shelly tubes from piles of Shaldon Bridge, Teignmouth’

Despite their name and appearance shipworms are not worms at all. They are a kind of bivalve mollusc but look very different to the clams and mussels we are more familiar with. They burrow into wooden structures - commonly piers, docks and ships - and will eventually destroy them. The fragile white calcareous tubes pictured are the lining of the burrow the mollusc lived within inside the wood.

In January 2020 the Montagu Collection was awarded Designated status by Arts Council England. This mark of distinction recognises the collection’s international significance to the scientific community - it is the most intact and taxonomically important collection of British shells of the early 19th century (1800-1816) to be found anywhere in the UK.

Object Summary

Accession Loan No.
Collection Class
Collection Area Region
Northern Europe
Collector Excavator
Montagu, Colonel George (from the collection of)
Common Name
Norway shipworm
Simple Name
mollusc tube
Period Classification
George III (1760-1811)

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TEREDINIDAE: Nototeredo norvagicus [Spengler]: Norway shipworm