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Secrets of the Klein Hollandia
1 September - 29 October
Since 2019 experts have been recording and researching a historic wreck found by a dive boat skipper off the Sussex coast. Its location was kept secret as a Protected Wreck for years but it is now confirmed as the 17th century Dutch warship Klein Hollandia, resting 32 metres deep on the seabed.
You can currently see some of these treasures on display in at Bexhill Museum, including a perfectly preserved bellarmine jug and marble tiles from the Apuan Alps quarries close to Carrara in Italy. Material found by divers include much of the wooden hull, cannons, Italian marble tiles and pieces of Italian pottery, some of it in extraordinarily good condition.
Built in 1654 and owned by the Admiralty of Rotterdam, the ship joined all the major battles in the Second Anglo-Dutch war (1665-1667) before being lost in an engagement in the English Channel in 1672. The condition of the wreck is remarkable and could offer a wealth of information about how 17th-century Dutch ships were built and the activities of the warship during its final voyage.
Shortly after being attacked and boarded on 12 March 1672 by an English squadron while sailing from the Mediterranean to the Netherlands, an incident credited with triggering the Third Anglo-Dutch War began, and thought to be the catalyst for the ensuing war
Over the past four years the Nautical Archaeology Society, along with independent historians, specialists from Historic England and the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (RCE) have been working on the ships identification through evidence gathered during dives on the wreck by a team of professional and volunteer divers, as well as through archival research and dendrochronological (tree ring) analysis of wood samples.
The Klein Hollandia was considered so important that it was granted the highest level of protection in the same year, under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973. This year (2023) marks 50 years of the Act. Only licensed divers are allowed to dive to the wreck site. The wreck was discovered by Eastbourne dive operator David Ronnan and reported to Historic England. The investigation was then placed in the hands of David Ronnan and Mark Beattie-Edwards from the Nautical Archaeology Society.
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