In 2017 and 2018 the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (RCE), Historic England and MSDS Marine undertook a high profile excavation on the Rooswijk protected wreck site. The Rooswijk was a Dutch East Indiaman (VOC) ship lost 279 years ago today 10th January 1740, on the Goodwin Sands. The wreck has been concealed beneath the waves, hidden to all but a small number of divers. Until now! Historic England has commissioned several dive tours of wrecks in UK waters, and MSDS Marine has now created a virtual trail of the Rooswijk wreck site, working together with all #Rooswijk1740 project partners. Now, divers and non-divers can explore this fascinating site.
The Rooswijk wreck, as a Dutch vessel lost in English territorial waters, is owned by the Dutch government and managed by Historic England. Therefore, it is part of Europe’s shared maritime cultural heritage and to recognise this, the trail is the first from Historic England to be released in two languages, English and Dutch. The tour is also the first to take viewers through the archaeological process from discovery to post-excavation revealing. Archaeological conservators and specialists have provided video interviews talking about their work on material from the site and the secrets they can reveal once in the laboratory.
Working with ArtasMedia and CyanSub, the trail was created using archival evidence, geophysical surveys, underwater photos and footage and cutting edge computer generated imagery. This evidence has been pieced together to bring the site to life and give the public a glimpse of what it is like to dive the wreck. New archaeological finds have been made available in 3D and users can explore a model of the wreck showing where they were found.
Hefin Meara, Marine Archaeologist at Historic England said: “We are delighted to have been able to bring this fascinating wreck to life. The project has shown that underwater archaeology can be accessible to all, allowing us to dive into history from the comfort of our own home.”
Martijn Manders, Manager of the International Programme for Maritime Heritage at RCE and the Project Leader on the #Rooswijk1740 project, said: ‘Wrecks such as the Rooswijk are part of the shared cultural maritime heritage across Europe and it’s important that cultural heritage agencies are able to work together to ensure that sites like this are protected, researched, understood and appreciated by all. This virtual trail helps ensure that the public are able to understand and enjoy the wreck of the Rooswijk’.
Alison James, MSDS Marine, said, ‘Access for the public to protected wreck sites such as the Rooswijk is something that is really important as they are a shared asset for everyone to enjoy, not just the archaeological community. Virtual access such as on this trail is incredibly important as it allows people to discover the site for themselves irrespective of their ability to physically access the site”.
For people who want to view the material in person there will be another site open day held on the 3rd March 2019 in the East Midlands. Find out more here: https://msdsmarine.com/en/rooswijk1740-east-midlands-open-day/
The Rooswijk is a Protected Wreck site and can only be visited with a licence, available from Historic England:
Visit the virtual wreck tour at: https://www.cloudtour.tv/Rooswijk
About the #Rooswijk1740 Project
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 trade goods. The site is now protected by the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973 and all access is controlled by a licensing system administered by Historic England on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. The ship’s remains lie at a depth of some 25 metres and are owned by the Dutch Government. The UK government is responsible for managing shipwrecks in British waters, therefore both countries work closely together to manage and protect the wreck site. The Maritime Programme of the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (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.
An archaeological survey of the site in 2016, undertaken by RCE and Historic England, showed that the wreck site was at high risk. As a result, a two-year excavation project began in 2017. Wrecks such as the Rooswijk are part of the shared cultural maritime heritage across Europe and it’s important that cultural heritage agencies are able to work together to ensure that sites like this are protected, researched, understood and appreciated by all. The project involves an international team led by RCE in partnership with Historic England. MSDS Marine are the UK Project Managers for the project.
About Historic England
We are Historic England (formerly known as English Heritage), the public body that champions and protects England’s historic places. We look after the historic environment, providing expert advice, helping people protect and care for it and helping the public to understand and enjoy it.
About the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands
The Cultural Heritage Agency is the Netherlands’ centre of expertise for heritage. Heritage care is a public interest, for which government also takes responsibility. The Cultural Heritage Agency is an executive body of the Ministry for Education, Culture and Science. Its tasks go beyond merely preserving and protecting buildings, archaeological sites and works of art. Today, society devotes increasing attention to how cultural historical values can be given a place within spatial development plans and projects. Doing so ensures that we can give the future a recognisable past.
About MSDS Marine
MSDS Marine are a Marine and Coastal Contractor specialising in the management, execution and support of archaeological projects in the marine environment. MSDS Marine have a wide range of experience and expertise within the industry from the project management of large scale underwater excavations through to the fulfilment of archaeological licence conditions prior to large infrastructure developments. MSDS Marine provide geophysical and hydrographic services including data collection, processing, visualisation and interpretation.
MSDS Marine are a diving contractor registered with the HSE and provide diving and logistical support to underwater projects both on Surface Supply or SCUBA dependant on requirements. MSDS Marine have experience of providing support to the wider marine sector including ecological assessments, pre and post construction surveys and specialist survey solutions. MSDS Marine are committed to creating hands on experience in the sector for students, volunteers and early career professionals and promoting public engagement with our work. www.MSDSMarine.co.uk