Falmouth’s National Maritime Museum has valuable historical medal which safeguarded lighthouse builders from Royal Navy press gangs.

On display in the museum, as part of the Lighthouses: Life on the Rocks exhibition, is one of the Eddystone Medals, donated by Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery.

Curator Sarah Riddle said: “We believe that this medal – with its inscription – is unique. This medal brings to life the torment of the press gangs, who would drag men to war during the 1700s.

“It is exciting to have the medal as part of the Life on the Rocks exhibition and we are extremely grateful to Plymouth City Museum for loaning it to us.”

The medals were commissioned by John Smeaton in 1757, who over saw the building of the fourth Eddystone lighthouse which still stands on Plymouth Hoe.

The medals were one of the few ways to prove to the dreaded press gangs that you were exempt from going to war.

The minted medals acted as a safe guard for any workmen ensuring that the lighthouse, which required specialist skills, was quickly built to guide ships in.