In 2017 Pascoe Archaeology was commissioned by Historic England to conduct a multi-beam echo sounder survey (MBES) over six designated sites and one un-designated site in the Goodwin Sands and The Downs region. The six designated sites were the Northumberland, Stirling Castle, Restoration, Rooswijk, and Admiral Gardner on the Goodwin Sands and GAD 8 in The Downs. Gad 23, also known as the ‘Bowsprit Wreck’, was the un-designated site in the Goodwin Sands.
The surveys were conducted between the 13 – 16 March 2017 by a collaborative team including Pascoe Archaeology, MSDS Marine and Swathe Services. The survey vessel, Predator, was provided by Predator Charters Marine Ltd, skippered and crewed by Daniel Poppy and Ben Appleton. High resolution MBES data was collected over each site except for the Admiral Gardner. It was not possible to conduct a survey over the Admiral Gardner because of the lack of water over the site.
Below are results from a selection of the sites surveyed.
GAD 8, Cannon site
The site is currently unidentified but it represents the wreck of an armed wooden sailing vessel dated to between 1650 and 1750. Previous site investigations have identified seven cast iron guns, a central concretion mound and a section of coherent ship’s structure exposed on the seabed. The 2017 MBES survey shows the site is currently 39m long by 18m wide at its widest. The site is orientated north – south. Despite the overall spread of material there are not a vast number of exposed features. The majority of the features that are exposed are fairly low lying.
The Stirling Castle
The Stirling Castle was a third-rate Man of War of 70 guns built at Deptford in 1679. She was wrecked on the 27th November 1703 during the Great Storm. The wreck lies at a chartered depth of 18m, 8.5km southeast of Ramsgate at the south end of the North Sands Head. The current wreck-mound and exposed debris is 33m long by 14m at it widest point. It is orientated east- west. The bow of the Stirling Castle is at the west end and the stern at the east end. The site is situated on a seabed of sand waves that are orientated in a northeast – southwest direction. There is a large sand bank encroaching from the east which is in danger of burying the whole site.
The Rooswijk is the wreck of a Dutch East Indiaman lost in January 1740. She lies on the Goodwin Sands southeast of the North Sands Head and northeast of the Kellet Gut. Within the 150m designated area there are three known sites relating to the remains of the Rooswijk. These are the West site (Main site), East site and the North site. The West site is the main body of the wreck consisting of a wreck mound 27m long by 24m wide. The East site, believed to be the impact site, has almost entirely been covered by a bank of sand, apart from an anchor. There is also a debris trail between the East and West sites, which includes an anchor. The North site is a large scatter of concreted barrels covering an area of 19 x 13m with a debris trail heading south for roughly a further 20m.
In general, the 2017 MBES survey has identified some significant changes over several of the sites. It has demonstrated how dynamic and fluid the Goodwin Sands are. There is a real necessity to undertake geophysical surveys on these sites on a regular basis to record the changes that are occurring season by season. Through this it is possible to see the direction of migration of sand waves and sand banks that will impact the sites either through burial or exposure. Having the ability to predict when a site will cover up or expose is extremely useful in the management of these sites.