Archaeologists have dived to the remains of an 18th century Dutch ship wrecked off the Kent coast

By Culture24 Reporter | 15 September 2016 | Updated: 14 September 2016

Archaeologists have returned to the wreck of an 18th century ship threatened by sandbank erosion near Kent

A photo of ancient gold coins found in the Rooswijk wreck in 2005
These Spanish coins were found in the Rooswijk wreck in 2005© Collection of the Zeeuws maritiem muZEEum
The wreck of the Dutch East Indiaman, which sank on the Goodwin Sands off the coast of Kent in January 1740, would have been intriguing enough without its cargo.

A large haul of silver ingots and coinage drowned with the ship at the Rooswijk wreck site, lost only a day after the vessel left its homeland.

A black and white drawing of a a Dutch 'hekboot' ship by Adolf van der Laan in 1716
A drawing of a ship similar to the Rooswijk – a Dutch 'hekboot' by Adolf van der Laan in 1716© Collection of the Fries Scheepvaartmuseum
A geophysical survey earlier this year built up a detailed picture of the protected and at-risk wreck, set on sands where regular dives take place.

An Anglo-Dutch team, including representatives of the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands, have been there for the past five days, searching for the remains at a depth of 24 metres in the sunshine.

A photo of a deep sea diver
© Rooswijk Project
“We lost a few tides on Thursday and Friday,” says Martijn Manders, of the agency. “The site has, however, been found.

“Canons have been identified and we are now working on mapping the Rooswijk shipwreck in order to bring back as much information as possible to start planning method, cost and people needed for the much bigger research that we may execute again with a large international team.

A photo of a boat at sea
© Rooswijk Project
“Other options will also be taken into account like a temporary in-situ preservation.  This all depends on what we will find.”

Interest is keen in the Netherlands for a search co-organised with Historic England and the same archaeological dive team responsible for a partial excavation of the wreck in 2005.

A photo of an underwater ocean
© Rooswijk Project
“Wrecks such as the Rooswijk are part of the shared cultural maritime heritage across Europe,” says Duncan Wilson, of Historic England.

“It is important that cultural heritage agencies are able to work together to ensure that sites such as these are protected, researched, understood and appreciated by all.”

A photo of an underwater ocean
© Rooswijk Project
Sonar recordings over the past year have escalated the urgency of the task, showing constant sandbank movement.

The team’s aim is to gather information on the condition of the wood, iron and other materials making up the wreck, as well as decide where to begin a more in-depth excavation.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

A photo of an underwater ocean
© Rooswijk Project
A photo of an underwater ocean
© Rooswijk Project
Three places to discover shipwrecks

Shipwreck Museum, Hastings
See live radar pictures of shipping in the English Channel, live weather satellite pictures, videos of local wrecks including the Dutch East Indiaman Amsterdam (1749) and a fascinating audio visual show which tells the story of a number of wrecks, of significant historical interest, located near Hastings.

The Isle of Wight Shipwreck Centre and Maritime Museum
The Shipwreck and Maritime Museum was founded in 1978, and had been an ambition of the owner, Martin Woodward, since he first started diving on shipwrecks in the 1960s. Martin, a professional diver by trade, has amassed a huge collection of artefacts personally recovered by him from under the sea, and he is still actively diving on wrecks and archaeological projects worldwide.

Charlestown Shipwreck and Heritage Centre, St Austell
The centre tells the history of diving, salvage and shipwrecks from the earliest times to the present day. It was originally a dry house for china clay on underground tunnels that visitors can explore. Large collections of minerals and early mining equipment giving insights into industrial and social heritage.
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