The Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (RCE) is currently involved with the United Kingdom to research and protect the Rooswijk, the Klein Hollandia and the Galloper wreck.
In the project #Rooswijk1740, the RCE is investigating the wreck of the Rooswijk, a Dutch East India Company ship which sank near the coast of England in January 1740. Together with project partner Historic England and UK-contractor MSDS Marine Ltd., several excavations have been carried out since 2016. The project is currently carrying out post-excavation work, focusing on ex-situ research, the conservation and analysis of the artefacts. Read more about this project on the #Rooswijk1740 page.
In April 2019, the remains of a historic wreck were found off the coast near Eastbourne, Sussex. The material found immediately raised the thought that this might have been a 17th-century Dutch warship. Much of the ship's wooden structure survived and cannons, marble tiles and pieces of pottery were found inside. In January 2023, the identity of this wreck was officially revealed as the Klein Hollandia.
During a hydrographic survey in 2015, the wreck was first spotted as an anomaly on the seabed. It was not until 2019 that David Ronnan, a local diver, confirmed the suspicions of that survey when he discovered a shipwreck at the site. After reporting the discovery to Historic England, he and Mark Beattie-Edwards of the Nautical Archaeological Society (NAS) became the wreck licensees. Since 2019, NAS staff and volunteer divers have made 282 dives at the site and built up a comprehensive picture of what is on the seabed. In August 2020, suspicions arose that the wreck could be of Dutch origin, based on the analysis of previous finds and historical research in the UK and the Netherlands. In August and September 2020, the RCE funded a diving survey by the NAS, including the salvage and analysis of two stone tiles (cargo) by Historic England. Using petrographic examination, mineralogical composition and isotopic analysis, the stone type was identified as marble from quarries in the Apuan Alps near Carrara, Italy.
In 2021, divers from the NAS documented extensive damage to the site by fishing gear. This led the RCE and Historic England to jointly decide to support further research into the wreck. To improve future enforcement of its protected status, we will also investigate new ways of marking objects on the seabed so that they can be traced. Read more about discovering the identity of the Klein Hollandia in the news item.
In May 2023, the podcast Dive & Dig published an episode about Klein Hollandia. Listen to it on the website Audioboom.
Galloper wreck North Sea
A large number of bronze cannons were discovered with sonar and ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) recordings during the construction of a wind farm off the coast of Suffolk, United Kingdom, in 2019. The British archaeology company Wessex Archaeology (WA) analysed these recordings and from this it was suspected that there would be both English and Dutch cannons in addition to some ship's timbers at a depth of about 30 metres. It could therefore be a shipwreck of either the Dutch or English Admiralty.
Bronze cannons were still sometimes transferred from one ship to another, frequently involving captured cannons. The cannons found here appeared to be in excellent condition, but the ship's timbers in particular were threatened by natural erosion. Another problem was that information about the site had already been sold to commercial salvage companies. However, the wreck lies outside UK territorial waters and therefore outside the policy area of Historic England, the UK counterpart of the RCE. The possibility that it was a Dutch Admiralty wreck subject to Dutch sovereignty led WA to approach the RCE for further investigation. Due to the likely high archaeological potential of the site, the risk of illegal salvage, the expectation of extensive erosion in the coming years and the possible claim of ownership by the Netherlands, it was jointly decided to have WA carry out further evaluative research on the wreck.
As the site is deep and substantial, it was decided to carry out the valuation survey with ROV. As many as 33 British and Dutch bronze cannons were found on site. As the vast majority of these were English cannons, it is considered more likely that the wreck is of English than Dutch origin. Following this, the RCE decided to continue drawing the attention of relevant British partners in the field of maritime heritage management to the urgency of preserving and protecting the wreck, but to take a step back and not remain actively involved in the management of this site.