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Dutch and British divers hoping to find out more about Rooswijk ship which sank on the Goodwin Sands

By Emily Stott

Divers working on the Goodwin Sands are hoping to discover more about an 18th century trading ship which sank in 1740.

It is believed the Rooswijk, The Dutch Indiaman (VOC) ship, was carrying a large cargo of silver ingots and coins.

Dutch and British maritime archaeologists are carrying out the expedition until Thursday, September 15.

Coins – Spanish coins found in the Rooswijk wreck from 2005. Copyright: collection of the Zeeuws maritiem muZEEum
Coins – Spanish coins found in the Rooswijk wreck from 2005. Copyright: collection of the Zeeuws maritiem muZEEum

The Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands and Historic England are working with the original archaeological dive team that partly excavated the wreck in 2005 and the licensee to carry out a detailed survey of the ship that lies partly buried in sediment.

The protected wreck site is on the “at risk” register because of sediment movement on the Goodwin Sands.

Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with our Dutch colleagues and the original archaeological team on this important site.

Drawing of the ship – A drawing of a ship similar to the Rooswijk – a Dutch ‘hekboot’, by Adolf van der Laan in 1716. Copyright: Collection of the Fries Scheepvaartmuseum.
Drawing of the ship – A drawing of a ship similar to the Rooswijk – a Dutch ‘hekboot’, by Adolf van der Laan in 1716. Copyright: Collection of the Fries Scheepvaartmuseum.

"Wrecks such as the Rooswijk are part of the shared cultural maritime heritage across Europe and 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.”

"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” - Mr Wilson, Historic England

Archaeologists want to gain a better understanding of the Rooswijk, the ship’s design, and the state of preservation of the materials on the seabed. This will help with the future management of the site and depending on what is discovered there, will lead to a larger excavation.

Earlier this year a geophysical survey was conducted, designed to allow archaeologists to build up a picture of the Rooswijk’s exposure and buried remains before they visit.

The Goodwin Sands, which lies six miles off the Deal coast, is an area known to be rich in shipwreck material and is regularly dived.

It is also at the centre of controversy, as Dover Harbour Board has submitted an application for a licence to dredge the Sands for aggregate, which has been opposed by campaigners.

A petition was launched which gained 10,000 signatures and will now be presented in Parliament by Deal and Dover MP Charlie Elphicke.

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