A wreck discovered off the south coast of England is almost certainly the Klein Hollandia, a Dutch warship dating from the 17th century, a team of Dutch and British maritime archaeologists have found.
The Klein Hollandia was built in 1656 and, until it sank in 1672, saw service in every sea battle the Dutch Republic fought against the English in a conflict over commercial interests.
It was captured by the English when they attacked a trade convoy of which the Klein Hollandia formed part. However, as the English towed their booty home the ship sank off the coast of Eastbourne.
The wreck was found in 2019 by amateur divers at a depth or 32 metres and has been ‘remarkably well preserved, the Dutch and British cultural heritage services have said.
Along with a substantial part of the wooden hull of the ship, divers have found a number of bronze canons with the makers name on them, as well as Italian pottery and marble slabs, which are thought to have come from quarries near Carara. Experts said the slabs were probably meant for luxury homes in the Dutch Republic.
‘It was the first time I have ever seen bronze canons on the bottom of the sea, ‘ maritime archaeologist Martijn Manders told broadcaster NOS. ‘You see the glint and it is fabulous.’
Archive material and research into the age of the wood helped identify the ship. ‘All the clues we found point to the Klein Hollandia. We can’t be 100% sure but we usually get it right,’ Manders said.
British and Dutch experts will continue to work together to do more research on the wreck. The smaller items of the cargo have been salvaged but the heavier items will remain so as not to disturb the site. ‘Once you have interfered with the site you have changed the context and that can’t be turned back, so we’re taking things easy,’ Manders said.
The work on the Klein Hollandia is part of a larger English Dutch project to preserve the two countries’joint maritime heritage. The two countries cooperated earlier on an investigation into the Rooswijk, a VOC ship that sunk off Goodwin Sands in 1740.
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