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Public invited to view ‘treasures’ from historic Rooswijk wreck this August

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New research has revealed insights into the cargo and crew of the 18th-century Dutch East India Company (VOC) ship the Rooswijk, wrecked off the Kent coast. Maritime archaeologists are diving the site, continuing the excavations started last summer, with the aim of revealing more of the Rooswijk’s story.

A drawing of a ship similar to the Rooswijk – a Dutch ‘hekboot’ by Adolf van der Laan in 1716. (Copyright) Collection of the Fries Scheepvaartmuseum.

Over the weekend 11-12 August the public will be able to see extraordinary finds from the Rooswijk and explore the techniques and technology the archaeologists are using. Project specialists from conservators and archaeobotanists to zooarchaeologists and material scientists will be on hand to answer questions.

The Rooswijk sank on the treacherous Goodwin Sands in January 1740 with all 237 crew lost. Thousands of vessels are known to have been wrecked in this area, dubbed ‘the great ship swallower’.

Researchers in the Netherlands have been able to postively identify and name 19 of the 237 members of the Rooswijk’s crew from documents held in Amsterdam archives. Until now it was only clear that the Rooswijk was under the authority of skipper Daniël Ronzieres, as all other records of the crew and passengers were lost in the shipwreck. Two tibia (leg bones) from two individuals have been recovered from the wreck and there is potential for more human remains to be found.

Collection of the different coins that were found in the wreck of the Rooswijk. Copyright Historic England/Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands

The Rooswijk set off on its last journey, from the Netherlands to Batavia (modern-day Jakarta), with a lot of silver on board – all of it destined for trade in Asia. The precious metal was in high demand and was exchanged for asian spices and porcelain. The value of the Rooswijk’s known cargo is thought to have been more than 300,000 guilders. The cargo was in the form of silver ingots and ‘pieces of eight’ – Mexican reals – these were minted to a recognised standard weight, making them perfect for international trade.

However, archaeologists have uncovered lots of other, older coins at the wreck site including ducatons from the Republic and the Southern Netherlands (now Belgium) that were not part of the sanctioned cargo. This suggests that the Rooswijk’s passengers and crew were carrying extra silver to trade illegally.

Other coins found during the dives have small holes deliberately made in them, an indication that the crew sewed them into their clothes to smuggle to the Dutch East Indies. Concealing the coins in this way also kept them safely hidden from others on board. At this time we know that people were smuggling silver in their shoes and belts, such was the demand overseas.

As a protected wreck site the Rooswijk’s remains are owned by the Dutch Government, and managed by Historic England on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. The #Rooswijk1740 project is led by the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands, in collaboration with Historic England and contractor MSDS Marine.

Collection of the pewter jugs found in the wreck of the Rooswijk. Jugs like this were used to hold liquids and used by the officers and higher ranks on board. Copyright Historic England/Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands

Martijn Manders, project leader of #Rooswijk1740, said:

“The Rooswijk is special because it tells us about ordinary people of that time, but also about entrepreneurship, and (trade) relationships that ensured connections between cultures all over the world. We consider this to be shared cultural heritage. We therefore work closely with our counterpart Historic England. Our British colleagues are now mainly working on the conservation of the finds in Portsmouth, which is a very important part of the project. The finds help us tell the story of the people on board, we can relate specific personal objects to what they did in general: how they lived, what the circumstances were on board the ship.”

Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Historic England, said:

“It’s extraordinary that after more than 270 years we now know the names of some of the people who may have lost their lives with the Rooswijk. Sea-faring was a dangerous way of life and this really brings it home. The revelation that the Rooswijk was used to smuggle silver adds to our understanding of global trade at this time – we shall have to wait and see what else we might discover from this site in the coming months.”

Archaeologists are continuing to investigate the wreck. They are finding more personal items alongside boxes and barrels in the galley behind the main mast. A ‘knee’ – a huge piece of angled wood used to support the deck – has been uncovered and will be investigated and recorded to illustrate the enormous size of the ship. The team is working towards where the stern of the ship should be with dives continuing until mid-August.

A nit comb, lead cheese container, pewter vessels and a chest full of thimbles are some of the personal items that have been conserved since their recovery from the wreck site.

For further information on the excavation and the open weekend this August visit: www.historicengland.org.uk/get-involved/visit/rooswijk-shipwreck-excavation

Competitions

WIN a Bigblue AL-1200NP Dive Torch!!!

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For this week’s competition, we’ve teamed up with our good friends at Liquid Sports to give away a Bigblue AL-1200NP Dive Torch!

This torch delivers 1200 lumens of light powered by an ion rechargeable battery. There are 4 levels of brightness with burn times between 2-20 hours. Battery charge level is indicated via coloured lights around the on/off button. The beam angle is 10°. The anodised aluminium alloy housing sealed by double ‘O’ rings with a max operating depth of 100m. SRP £125.00 which includes torch, charging cradle and battery.

To be in with a chance of winning this awesome prize, all you have to do is answer the following question:

In a recent post on Scubaverse.com (which you can read here), we reported via the Marine Conservation Society that the UK’s landmark post-Brexit fisheries legislation has now become law. The Fisheries Act is the first legislation of its kind in nearly how many years?

Is it:

  • A) 60
  • B) 50
  • C) 40

Answer, A, B or C to the question above:

Liquid Sports Bigblue AL-1200NP Dive Torch November 2020

Competition
  • Enter the country you live in
  • Terms and Conditions: This competition is open to all visitors to www.scubaverse.com except for members of the Scubaverse team and their families, or employees of Liquid Sports and their families. A valid answer to the competition’s question must be entered. If no valid answer to the competition’s question is entered, your entry will be invalid. Only one competition entry per entrant permitted (multiple entries will lead to disqualification). Only one prize per winner. All prizes are non-transferable, and no cash alternative will be offered. In the event that the prize cannot be supplied, no liability will be attached to www.scubaverse.com. When prizes are supplied by third parties, www.scubaverse.com is acting as their agents and as such we exclude all liability for loss or damage you may suffer as a result of this competition. This competition closes on 06/01/21. The winner will be notified by email. The Editor-in-Chief’s decision is final.

  • The following fields are optional, however if you fill them in it will help us to determine what prizes to source in the future.

  • Date Format: MM slash DD slash YYYY
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Gear News

Northern Diver Christmas Sale starts TODAY!

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This year Northern Diver’s Christmas offers are starting on Black Friday and running until midnight on New Year’s Eve! 

There are some great deals to be had across the site – www.ndiver.com – from discounted Drysuits and Coltri compressors to 15% off their entire Lighting Section!

And if you can’t find the perfect present for the diver in your life, they have a choice of Gift Cards on offer. They are even giving you £25 extra when you purchase a £100 voucher!

The offers don’t stop there – there is FREE shipping on all orders over £100 and even a FREE gift with every online purchase.

Every purchase will get you entered into a great prize draw to win one of their new Electracore 3.0mm Rechargeable Heated Vests!

And should you find that you need to return any of your purchases, Northern Diver understand that Christmas may be a little different for everyone this year and you may not get to see every one over Christmas, so they have extended their Returns Period to the end of January 2021. (Valid for purchases made from Black Friday to end of December 2020).

Some unmissable offers to look out for are the Varilux Zoom, part of the Varilux Black & Gold Range, with its variable beam width; and Northern Diver’s 4mm compressed Neoprene Drysuit, the Voyager, which is on offer for an incredible £475!

For more information visit the Northern Diver website by clicking here.

Photo credit: Joe Duffy

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Sharks Bay Umbi Diving Village is a Bedouin-owned resort with stunning views and a lovely private beach. It is ideal for divers as everything is onsite including the resort's jetty, dive centre and house reef. The warm hospitality makes for a diving holiday like no other. There is an excellent seafood restaurent and beach bar onsite, and with the enormous diversity of the Sharm El Sheikh dive sites and the surrounding areas of the South Sinai, there really is something for every level of diver to enjoy.

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