Researchers from the University of Connecticut have discovered the 17th century Dutch warship, Huis de Kreuningen, thought to be the largest in the Dutch fleet, which sank during the 1677 battle of Tobago in what is now Scarborough Harbour.
During the battle between the French and the Dutch, who controlled Tobago at the time, the French flagship Glorieux, with her superior guns, sank the Dutch vessel on 3 March 1677.
Kroum Batchvarov, assistant professor of maritime archaeology and leader of the research team, said: “To find the Huis de Kreuningen—almost by accident, as she was outside the boundaries where we expected to find her—undiscovered and untouched for over 300 years was an exciting moment.”
According to historians, 2,000 people lost their lives in the battle, including 250 Dutch women and children and 300 African slaves. In addition, the battle also claimed the Glorieux, with 370 souls lost.
Batchvarov said that a remote sensing survey the team conducted in the harbour earlier in the year led to the discovery of the remains of the wreck during a subsequent exploratory dive. The find is significant in terms of maritime history of the period. “Although we have some written records of the battle itself, we possess no detailed plans of seventeenth-century warships, so our only sources of information about the ships of the day are the wrecks themselves,” Batchvarov said.
Cultural material dating back to the latter part of the 17th century helped identify the wreck, according to Batchvarov. These materials included around eight canons, lead shot, pottery jars, Dutch smoking pipes, and bricks that can be traced to the city of Leiden in 1647.