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List Entry Summary

This site is designated under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973 as it is or may prove to be the site of a vessel lying wrecked on or in the sea bed and, on account of the historical, archaeological or artistic importance of the vessel, or of any objects contained or formerly contained in it which may be lying on the sea bed in or near the wreck, it ought to be protected from unauthorised interference. Protected wreck sites are designated by Statutory Instrument. The following information has been extracted from the relevant Statutory Instrument.


List Entry Number: 1000085


Named Location:

Location Description:

Kellet Gut, Goodwin Sands, off Deal, Kent

Competent Authority:

The site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Latitude: 51.27405000

Longitude: 1.57561700

National Grid Reference: TR4948758840

Date first designated: 13-Jan-2007

Date of most recent amendment: Not applicable to this List entry.

Legacy System Information

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System: AMIE - Wrecks

UID: 1451382

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Information provided under the Statutory Instrument heading below forms part of the official record of a protected wreck site. Information provided under other headings does not form part of the official record of the designation. It has been compiled by Historic England to aid understanding of the protected wreck site.

Summary of Site

The remains of a Dutch East Indiaman which foundered towards the north-eastern end of the Kellet Gut, after grounding on the Goodwin Sands, in 1739. At the time of loss she was bound from Amsterdam and the Texel to Jakarta with coin, bullion and a general cargo, including sheet copper, sabre blades and stone blocks, as well as passengers.

Reason for Designation

Statutory Instruments



The Rooswijk is a vessel of the Dutch East Company (VOC) built in 1737 which stranded on the Goodwin Sands in 1739 while en route from the Texel to the East Indies. The vessel is described as a 'retourschip', a specific type of Dutch East Indiaman which was designed to withstand the lengthy voyages of 18 months to three years typically undertaken en route to Batavia [Indonesia].

The site was found after several years of documentary research and following a magnetometer survey on the site.


Designation History: Designation Order: No 61, 2007 Made: 13th January 2007 Laid before Parliament: 17th January 2007 Coming into force: 9th February 2007 Protected area: 150 metres within 51 16.443 N 001 34.537 E

No part of the restricted area lies above the high-water mark of ordinary spring tides.

Documentary History: Built in 1737 in Amsterdam for the Amsterdam Chamber of the Dutch East India Company, the Rooswijk was lost on the Goodwin Sands one day out from the Texel on her second voyage to the Indies in January 1739. Her previous voyage had been to Batavia (Jakarta).

The day following her departure from the Texel, the Rooswijk is recorded as being wrecked with all hands and troops. 'A great many pieces of wreck and packets of letters, all directed to Batavia, have been taken up.' Many pieces of wreckage were found floating in the Downs. There were numerous newspaper reports on her loss, including the London Written Letter: 'We had this morning an account from Deal of a Dutch East India Ship outward bound, being ashore on the Goodwin Sands; and this afternoon it was reported to be lost, and all her crew.'

Contemporary newspapers record 'the violent storm of wind, etc. which has held for two days past, has done considerable damage to shipping lying in the River [Thames]...'

It therefore appears from sources that the vessel was caught up initially in an easterly storm which afflicted the eastern coast of England from north to south. This would have driven her directly onto the Goodwin Sands on her outward-bound passage from Amsterdam, and the "contrary winds" mentioned in some sources would have caused her to shift on the sands. In turn this would have contributed to the ship breaking up rapidly, consistent with the wreckage and mail being all the clues left to her loss, together with the total loss of life. Doubtless, however, the severe cold also contributed to the total loss of the crew.]

Prior to 1752, the New Year fell on 25th March. The date of loss therefore probably occurred circa 30 December 1739.

Archaeological History: A sport diver found the remains of the Rooswijk after extensive documentary research and magnetometer survey. The discovery was kept secret to enable the recovery of bullion. In December 2005, silver found aboard the wreck was handed over to the Netherlands Finance Minister, representing the Dutch Government as heirs to the Dutch East India Company, having taken the company over in 1798. Dutch archaeologists expressed regret that they had not been part of the salvage operation.

The seabed consists of fine-grained, mobile sand with broken shell. Some small patches of stones were observed in areas of scouring around upstanding wreck material. Small sand waves have been recorded in all areas searched, separated by small hollows.

The salvage of the Rooswijk prior to designation is believed to have recovered more than 1,000 artefacts including a musket stock; 2 musket side plates marked "VOC"; a musket trigger plate; two wooden chests and lids; 21 ebony knife handles; 2 concreted knives; a Mexican pillar dollar; 553 silver ingots marked "VOC"; a tobacco tin; a huntsman's sword hilt; a gilt sword hilt; a sword scabbard belt hook; part of a leather scabbard; a brass wine pot with a missing leg; a pistol stock; a cutlass handle; a cutlass scabbard; a copper alloy cauldron; and 3 stoneware vessels.

The floor timbers collapsed following the wreck and the contents of each deck fell on top of each other, reflecting the physical and social layers of shipboard life. The top layer therefore included items from the officers' dining room, including pewter dinner plates and a mustard pot, wine glasses, a copper cauldron, brass candlesticks and a box of eye glasses.

The silver bullion was also found in this area in 4lb bars, having been mined in Mexico, and sold on to the Amsterdam Chamber of the VOC, whose imprint is on the bars of silver, for use in the coinage of Batavia.

The layer immediately underneath comprised the contents of the ship constable's cabin. As he was responsible for the maintenance of law and order on board, 50 muskets were found in the area. Beneath this again was the vessel's 'cartridge locker' containing bar and round shot, while three cannon and a gun port were located in an area thought to represent part of the gun deck.

A pair of Frechen mugs, dated 1550 - 1600, was located within the site and represented an anomaly, possibly indicating that there is wreckage from more than one vessel on this site, although it could be that, owing to their robust nature and widespread use, they were still in use on a vessel such as the Rooswijk in 1739.

The Maritime Museum in Vlissingen will house objects recovered from this wreck and handed over to the Dutch.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Larn, R, Goodwin Sands shipwrecks, (1979)
'Kentish Post or Canterbury Newsletter' in Kentish Post or Canterbury Newsletter, (05-JAN to 09-JAN-1740, No.2313)
'Independent' in Independent, (2005)
'Kentish Post or Canterbury Newsletter' in Kentish Post or Canterbury Newsletter, (29-DEC to 02-JAN-1739/40, No.2311)
'Nouvelles d'Amsterdam' in Nouvelles d'Amsterdam, (26 janvier 1740)
'Nouvelles d'Amsterdam' in Nouvelles d'Amsterdam, (26 janvier 1740)
'Nouvelles d'Amsterdam' in Nouvelles d'Amsterdam, (26 janvier 1740)
'Sherborne Mercury' in Sherborne Mercury, (1740)
2006, Rooswijk, Goodwin Sands: Undesignated Site Assessment,
Wessex Archaeology, October 2007: Ref: 53111.03ddd, Rooswijk: Designated Site Assessment: Archaeological Report,


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End of official listing