Lost in a blizzard and buffeted by high winds, Rusvik eventually ran aground on sand and was shattered by the force of the sea.
237 crew members, along with the goods and treasure on board, were lost on that fateful and freezing night in January 1740, as the merchant ship’s voyage from the Netherlands to Jakarta ended as it had begun – sinking off the coast of Kent. the coast
Today, more than 280 years later, not only have silver coins, sabers and other historical artifacts been recovered from the depths, but thanks to the patient work of archaeologists they have been lovingly restored, effectively bringing the crustacean-destroyed treasures back to life.
About 2500 artefacts have been recovered from the ruins so far.
One of the five chests raised from the sea contains 100 saber blades. After hours of patient work by conservation experts, thick layers of seabed mud, shells and rocks built up over centuries have been carefully removed with high-tech tools to reveal that these are no ordinary weapons.
Lost in a blizzard and buffeted by high winds, Rusvik eventually ran aground on sand and was torn apart by the force of the sea.
About 2500 artefacts have been recovered from the ruins so far
The blades were covered with carvings on both sides, displaying a sun, moon and stars and a snake. Such designs were seen on bladed weapons throughout Europe, Africa, and the Middle East during that period of history.
The blades had no holes and it is not known if the handles are on another chest yet to be uncovered or if the swords were intended to be completed at a later date. It is also not clear what their intended use was – to be supplied to soldiers or sold.
The painstaking process has only opened one chest so far, but there may be hundreds more saber blades in the others.
An astonishing 1,846 silver coins were also recovered by a joint Dutch-British excavation team in 2017 and 2018. Due to its location on the Goodwin Sands on the Kent coast, divers had moved there and worked on it over the years, fearing that Rooswijk was at risk. Then revealed their impressive details.
Experts believe that half of the silver on the Ruswick board was illegal.
Official coins owned by the Dutch East India Company were used for trade. Those officially transported on shipwrecks bear the letter M, meaning they were built in Mexico City.
But there were also many ‘private’ coins, probably owned by crew members who planned to take personal gains with them on the voyage.
Although currency smuggling was officially prohibited by the company, it was a common practice.
Other items preserved include carved knife handles, beaks and a net comb.
The restoration process is underway at the Historic England Research Center in Portsmouth.
As a preserved ruin, the remains of Rooswijk are owned by the Dutch government and managed by Historic England on behalf of the UK government.
The restoration process is underway at the Historic England Research Center in Portsmouth
Other items preserved include carved knife handles, beaks and a net comb
Experts believe that half of the silver on the Ruswick board was illegal
An astonishing 1,846 silver coins were recovered by a joint Dutch-British excavation team in 2017 and 2018.
Martijn Manders, project leader at the Netherlands’ Cultural Heritage Agency, said: ‘The Rooswick ruins are in a very dynamic environment at a depth of around 25 metres. Excavating a shipwreck in these conditions takes a lot of effort.
‘Conservation, however, proved to be just as challenging. The conservators did an amazing job. Through mini-excavations in the lab, we now know a lot more about the ships, the people aboard them, and their trade. I am happy that the material and exciting stories they are seeing are now ready to be shown to the world.’
Angela Middleton, Senior Archaeological Conservator at Historic England, said: ‘It is fascinating to see the objects found at the Ruswick ruins slowly reveal many secrets that have been hidden for hundreds of years.’
The discovery is being put at the forefront of this year’s Archeology Festival, which aims to engage children with history and archaeology.
The festival takes place from 18 to 23 July at Calke Abbey in Derbyshire.
Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Historic England, said: ‘As development pressures increase on our coasts, it is vital that we document and restore the maritime heritage that historic wrecks reveal. That way we don’t lose the stories tied to these amazing artifacts.’
Angela Middleton, Senior Archaeological Conservator at Historic England, said: ‘It was fascinating to slowly reveal so many secrets hidden for hundreds of years in the objects found at the Ruswick ruins’.
The festival takes place from 18 to 23 July at Calke Abbey in Derbyshire
As a preserved relic, the remains of Rooswijk are owned by the Dutch government and managed by Historic England on behalf of the UK government.