The Goodwin Sands and Downs Multi-beam survey

The Goodwin Sands is located off the East coast of Kent and is made up of a number of mobile sand banks. Ever since seafaring began the Goodwins has been a hazard and as a result there are many hundreds of shipwrecks lying here. It is famously known as the ‘ship swallower’ as they have an amazing ability to engulf and preserve shipwrecks for hundreds of years. When the sands shift wrecks can suddenly appear. The best known example of this was the Stirling Castle, which emerged from the sands in 1979 complete up to the upper gundeck.

In March Pascoe Archaeology returned to the Goodwins to conduct high resolution multi-beam surveys of all the designated wrecks within the Goodwin Sands and the Downs, plus another site known as the ‘Bowsprit Wreck’. The project was funded my Historic England and the main aims were to establish the current extent and exposure of the sites and to identify any changes that had occurred since previous surveys. Conducting the actual survey was Mark James of  MSDS marine and Swathe Services. The survey was conducted from the survey vessel Predator, from Predator charters marine ltd. Swathe Services brought with them the latest 2024 R2 Sonic multi-beam echo sounder. This has the capability of capturing ultra high resolution data which is essential for recording sites of wooden shipwrecks.

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We had a very successful week surveying and discovered that the Goodwins was living up to its reputation. The team are currently busy processing the data and we are looking forward to seeing some exciting results. In the mean time check out a short video created by team member Rodrigo Ortiz-Vazquez.

Photogrammetry in the dark

Last summer we were working with MSDS Marine on the Thorness Bay wreck in the Solent. The identification of the wreck is so far a mystery but the archaeological evidence suggests a merchant wooden sailing ship dating to a period of the late 19th century. Diving along side us were the Licensees Garry McGinty and Gary Paddock. The work was part of a project funded by Historic England to create a virtual and physical diver trail for the site. Grant Cox of ArtasMedia and Stuart Graeme of CyanSub are using all the archaeological data collected during the project to create the virtual tour.

The site

The wreck lies at a depth of 21 metres in the Solent, just West of Cowes on the Isle of Wight. The layout of the wreck is clearly discernible with a large windlass off the bow and steering quadrant and rudder pintle at the stern. Only the lower hull appears to have survived, which is predominately buried with the exception of the keelson and exposed frames and planking along the port side.


Location of the Thorness Bay Wreck in the Solent.


The aim of the survey was to capture video and stills images of the main archaeological features. These would then be used in the visualisation tour of the wreck. A number of features, including the anchor, the pump and rudder pintle were photogrammetrically surveyed and 3D models were produced.

Although the wreck is not particularly deep, more often that not it can be pitch black on the seabed. This makes conducting photogrammetry particularly challenging but with the use of a quality camera and strobes good results can be gained. Thanks to Dr Fraser Sturt and the University of Southampton for the use of the camera equipment for this project.

Video of photogrammetry survey

The video demonstrates the conditions on the day of the survey.


3D model of the rudder

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Return to the Rooswijk

The Rooswijk  was a Dutch East Indiaman lost with all hands on the Goodwin Sands in January 1740. In September 2016 an Anglo-Dutch team returned to the site to undertake an assessment with the view of embarking on a comprehensive excavation the following year. The team included members of the Dutch heritage agency,  Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed (RCE), Historic England, MSDS Marine and the original 2005 team including finder Ken Welling.

The team mapped out the exposed features of the site which include: a section of the hull with a gunport; numerous guns and iron shot; two large spare anchors; and cut stone block, carried as cargo.

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3D models produced from results of the photogrammetry surveys on Invincible

In 2016 Historic England provided funding to record  vulnerable and at- risk areas of the Invincible wreck. Pascoe Archaeology teamed up with the Nautical Archaeology Society, the University of Southampton and MSDS Marine to survey these areas with the method of photogrammetry. The results of which will be used in a virtual dive tour of the wreck site. Below are some of the results which have been re-rendered by Grant Cox of Artas Media.

Results from the port bow

A section of the port bow was chosen because there were exposed sections of structure relating to all three surviving decks, the gundeck, orlop and hold.

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Results from a section of the starboard side.

A large section of the starboard side lies to the north of the coherent portside. It consists of a section of the hold and orlop. The results from the photogrammetry show large pairs of riders fastened over ceiling planking and frames.

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