The mysterious wreck off Eastbourne is the Dutch warship Klein Hollandia

Scientists have solved the mystery of the identity of a warship wrecked off the Sussex coast.

The unknown sheltered wreck off Eastbourne has been identified as the 17th century Dutch warship Klein Hollandia.

Built in 1656 and owned by the Admiralty of Rotterdam, the ship took part in all major battles of the Second Anglo-Dutch War (1665-1667).

The wreck, which lies 32 meters below the surface on the seabed, was previously known as the “Unknown Wreck off Eastbourne”.

The ship sank in 1672 and was discovered in 2019.

It was considered so important that it was given the highest level of protection under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973 that same year.

Over the past year, specialists from Historic England, the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands and the Nautical Archeology Society have been working to identify the ship.

They used evidence collected from the wreck by a team of professional and volunteer divers, as well as archival research and tree ring analysis of the wood samples.

The Argus: Two cannons found at the site known as the Unknown Sheltered WreckTwo cannons found at the site known as an unknown protected wreck (Image: PA)

Heritage Secretary Lord Parkinson said: “The identification of the Klein Hollandia provides a glimpse into the 17th century and gives us the opportunity to learn more about the maritime history of the period and to uncover treasures that have lay underwater for hundreds of years.

“I am delighted that thanks to this partnership between the UK and the Netherlands, we have been able to solve some of the mysteries surrounding this wreck – and protect it for future generations to continue exploring.”

Duncan Wilson, Managing Director of Historic England, said: “We are delighted that Historic England’s materials scientists have played a key role in solving the mystery of the previously hidden identity of this shipwreck.

“The uncovering of the history of the warship Klein Hollandia opens another fascinating chapter in the already rich shared naval history between Britain and the Netherlands.”

Experts say the wreck’s condition is “remarkable” and could provide a wealth of information about the construction of Dutch ships in the 17th century and the warship’s activities during its final voyage.

Much of the wooden hull, cannons, Italian marble tiles, and Italian ceramic pieces were among the materials found on the seabed.

The marble tiles came from the quarries of the Apuan Alps near Carrara in Italy and were conserved by archaeological conservators of historic England before investigations began.

The tiles were destined for the Netherlands and should have been used to build high status houses.

The wreck was discovered by Eastbourne dive operator David Ronnan and reported to Historic England.

Mr Ronnan and Mark Beattie-Edwards are the licensees and have been investigating the wreck since its discovery.

Mr Beattie-Edwards, Managing Director of the Nautical Archeology Society, said: “Since our very first dive on the wreck in April 2019 we have been fascinated by the variety of material on the seabed.

“The impressive amount of wooden hull structure, the ship’s cannons, the beautifully carved marble tiles, as well as the pottery finds, indicate that this is a late 17th-century Dutch ship returning from Italy.

“Now, after four years of investigation and research, we can identify the ship with certainty.” The mysterious wreck off Eastbourne is the Dutch warship Klein Hollandia

Fry Electronics Team

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