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18th-century Kent shipwreck set for excavation

The Dutch East Indiaman was carrying a large amount of silver ingots and coinage, along with stone blocks and iron bars. It now lies partly buried in sediment.

The 2017 project is reported to be the most ambitious to be carried out on a Dutch East India Company wreck to date. Only a third of the 250 such shipwreck sites around the world have been located.

The Rooswijk was partially excavated in 2005, after being discovered by a sport-diver, and last year Dutch and British maritime archaeologists carried out joint diving expeditions to assess the state of the site, as reported on Divernet.

Strong currents, shifting sands and the risk of unauthorised diving are said to have raised the urgency for further excavation, a decision now taken by a Dutch government increasingly keen to protect its heritage.

The team of maritime archaeologists will be based in Ramsgate and the project will be supervised by the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands in partnership with Historic England (HE). The site is on HE’s Heritage at Risk Register.

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