UK shipwreck identified as 17th-century Klein Hollandia warship

UK shipwreck identified as 17th-century Klein Hollandia warship

A shipwreck discovered off the coast of England in 2015 has now been identified as the Klein Hollandia, a warship from the Netherlands dating back to the late 1600s which was involved in several major battles in the Second Anglo-Dutch War. 

Dutch warship discovered off south coast of England 

Extensive work carried out by a team of archaeologists means that this week the shipwreck, which was discovered off the southern coast of England in 2015, has been identified as the Klein Hollandia. Based on evidence gathered by a team of professional and volunteer divers, Historic England and the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (RCE) have been able to confirm the ship’s identity. 

According to the RCE, the shipwreck is in remarkably good condition, with The Guardian reporting that Historic England hopes it will “offer a wealth of information about how 17th-century Dutch ships were built and the activities of the warship during its final voyage.” Gunay Uslu, the Dutch State Secretary for Culture and Media, agrees: “This provides valuable knowledge and important insights into the shared history of our seafaring nations.”

“From our very first dive on the wreck, back in April 2019, we have been fascinated by the range of material on the seabed,” the RCE’s CEO Mark Beattie-Edwards explained. “The impressive amount of wooden hull structure, the ships’ cannon, the beautifully cut marble tiles, as well as the pottery finds, all point towards this being a Dutch ship from the late 17th century coming back from Italy.”

The history and demise of the Klein Hollandia

Built in 1656, the Klein Hollandia was owned by the Admiralty of Rotterdam - the military body that helped govern the Dutch navy - and was involved in various key naval operations in the second half of the 17th century. 

Most notably, the ship played a vital role in the Netherlands’ victory against England during the Second Anglo-Dutch War (1665-1667), which was largely caused by the commercial and maritime rivalry between the two countries. The majority of naval battles took place on the North Sea and the English channel, but in the later years of the war fighting eventually spread to the Caribbean. 

The Klein Hollandia is known to have been involved in all the major battles of the Second Anglo-Dutch War, but met its demise in March 1672 after it was left severely damaged following a surprise attack by an English squadron under the command of Admiral Sir Robert Holmes near the Isle of Wight. The attack is said to have contributed to the start of the Third Anglo-Dutch War in 1672.

Thumb: Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS) divers measuring timbers of the Klein Hollandia © Martin Davies.

Victoria Séveno


Victoria Séveno

Victoria grew up in Amsterdam, before moving to the UK to study English and Related Literature at the University of York and completing her NCTJ course at the Press Association...

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