The Rooswijk was a Dutch East India Company vessel which sank on the treacherous Goodwin Sands, off Kent, in January 1740. The ship was outward-bound for Batavia (modern-day Jakarta) with a large cargo of silver ingots and coinage on board. The Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands, RCE, (on behalf of the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture) and Historic England (on behalf of the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) are responsible for the joint management of the Rooswijk. The #Rooswijk1740 project is funded and led by the RCE, in collaboration with project partner Historic England and UK-contractor MSDS Marine.


An archaeological survey of the site in 2016, undertaken by RCE and Historic England, showed that the wreck site was at high risk due to currents and shifting sands. As a result, a project began in 2017 in which two excavations were carried out in collaboration with UK-contractor MSDS Marine. During the course of the excavations, the wreck was fully surveyed. Over 3,000 artefacts were recovered and are now being conserved and analysed at Fort Cumberland in Portsmouth. Together with historical, archival and genealogical research carried out by the International Institute for Social History (IISG), the Huygens ING, the Amsterdam City Archives and genealogists Willem-Jan van Grondelle and Els Vermij, many new discoveries have been made. There are a total of 250 Dutch East India Company shipwrecks, of which only a third have been located. Never before has a Dutch East India Company wreck been scientifically researched or excavated at this scale.

Student conserving object #Rooswijk1740
Image: ©#Rooswijk1740 project
Student undertaking detailed conservation work

Post-excavation phase

The #Rooswijk1740 project is currently in the post-excavation phase. Post-excavation work began straight after each excavation campaign, focusing on ex-situ research, the conservation and analysis of the artefacts. The most notable finds will be displayed in an exhibition at the MuZeeum in Vlissingen – along with photos and films that tell the context and the overall story of the Rooswijk and its crew. The latest news on the project is shared on social media accounts dedicated to the project: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.