Today we give you a short update about the work that the joint Dutch-English team of archaeologists is doing on the Rooswijk shipwreck.
The Rooswijk was a Dutch East Indian (VOC) ship that sank on an outbound journey on the Goodwin Sands in the UK, one day after it left the Texel Roads. All hands were lost and the wreck is now lying at approximately 24 metres depth.
The dive team that worked on the site in 2005 gathered a lot of information on site and lifted – amongst others – silver and gold coins and silver ingots. The information gathered at that time has not been published yet, but also lacks sufficient context with the ship construction.
Historic England designated the wreck site in 2007 under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973 (https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/what-is-designation/protected-wreck-sites/wreck/rooswijk).
Current information has shown that the site is under threat of erosion of the seabed. The Goodwin Sands is a very dynamic area with huge sandbanks moving constantly. This also became evident by comparing sonar recordings of 2015 and July 2016.
The team wants to investigate how much the site is threatened, but also where this extra information to connect objects to the wreck can be found. The current research could lead to an extensive excavation which may possibly be conducted in the next coming years.
Before such an undertaking can be executed more information should be gathered about the condition of wood, iron and other material, about the best place to start an excavation and how this research could be best executed.
The team consists of archaeologists from the Cultural Heritage Agency (RCE), Historic England, the former dive team working on the site in 2005, Wessex Archaeology (the contractor for Historic England) and MSDS Marine, the current dive contractor. We are working on the dive support vessel Predator from Essex.
We are now 5 days on our way. The sun is shining constantly and the first days the weather was very good on the site. The visibility as well (approx. 2 metres). However, wind has picked up from the wrong direction now and we have lost a few tides on Thursday and Friday.
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. Other options will also be taken into account like (temporary) in situ preservation. This all depends on what we will find.
The diving will finish on the 15th of September. The project already generated a lot of publicity and general interest in the Netherlands as well as in the UK.
More about the Rooswijk project:
Historic England (press release)
Cultural Heritage Agency (in Dutch) (persbericht)
Follow the project on Twitter using #Rooswijk1740