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Kennemerland: Stoura Stack, Out Skerries

Dutch East Indiaman (17th Century)

Site Name Kennemerland: Stoura Stack, Out Skerries

Classification Dutch East Indiaman (17th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Carmelan; Kennemerlandt; Kennermerland; Kennermerlandt (Carmelan)

Canmore ID 1401

Site Number HU67SE 8001

NGR HU 68826 71273

NGR Description Centred HU 6882 7112

Datum WGS84 - Lat/Long


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Shetland Islands
  • Parish Maritime - Shetland Islands
  • Former Region Shetland Islands Area
  • Former District Maritime
  • Former County Not Applicable

Summary Record (8 October 2012)

The Kennermerland was an armed merchant vessel belonging to the Dutch East India Company, a relatively common class of vessel in the 17th century. After leaving the Texel in the Netherlands outward-bound to Batavia (now Jakarta) in the East Indies, she headed north to avoid the Royal Navy. She was wrecked off Out Skerries on the 20th of December 1664. Her cargo included a consignment of gold, mercury, clay pipes, tobacco-boxes and golf clubs, while the ballast was made up of lead ingots and building bricks.

The wreck’s forepart foundered in the deep water adjacent to Stoura Stack and the remaining stern portion was swept into the harbour and washed up on Bruray, before being swept back out to sea on the following tide. Only three men survived.

The remains of the Kennemerland were located in 1971 by members of the Aston University Sub Aqua Club and six seasons of excavation were conducted by Richard Price before 1987. In the 1970s the late Keith Muckelroy used the wreck as a proving ground in his pioneering work on site formation studies. Since 1988 the site has been regularly inspected under license from Historic Scotland, most recently by Wessex Archaeology in 2005. Material from the wreck has been discovered over a wide area between Stoura Stack and Trolsoma.

The majority of the finds from the excavation are held at Shetland Museum. RCAHMS holds an extensive paper archive material (including published and unpublished material) as well as a series of photographs from the 1990 dive inspection. Other archive material is with C Dobbs, R Price and C Martin.

The site was designated under the Protection of Wrecks Act in 1978.

The wreckage of the Advena, lost in 1912, overlies part of this site (HU67SE 8002).

Information from RCAHMS (HDS and GFG) 8 October 2012


Loss (20 December 1664)

The Kennermerland was wrecked off Out Skerries, Shetland on the 20th of December 1664.

Diver Inspection (July 1971 - August 1971)

Stoura Stack, Shetland: Kennermerland. This Dutch East Indiaman, wrecked in 1664, was relocated and resurveyed in 1971. The finds were placed in Lerwick Museum.

Information from RCAHMS (RJCM) Undated

Source: J Cherry 1973.

Excavation (June 1973 - September 1973)

Stoura Stack, Shetland: Kennermerland. A team from the Universities of Aston and Birmingham raised material from this Dutch East Indiaman, and from the Advenna [Advena: HU67SE 8002], Nordwind [HU67SE 8003] and more modern ships. All finds have been lodged with Lerwick Museum for conservation.

Information from RCAHMS (RJCM) Undated

Source: J Cherry 1974.

Excavation (1974 - 1976)

In 1974 and 1976 small teams (including up to six divers) under R Price returned to complete excavation of area F and undertake excavation elsewhere. Less visual searching was carried out in this period than before. Small explosive charges and a light water-jet were used on occasion but a water-dredge proved ineffective on the heavy gravels of the site.

Eleven weeks were spent on site in 1974 and fifteen in 1976, work being carried out simultaneously with the investigation of the De Liefde (HU67SE 8011). Surface demand diving was used throughout, giving longer times underwater, and the finds were passed to Shetland County Museum, Lerwick, where many concretions were excavated.

Excavation of site C aimed to isolate and lift the large lump of concretion found in the middle of the area defined. Completion of this operation allowed the museum extraction of one complete and six broken staves of an oak cask (1.2m high), to the inner side of which a large quantity of barley husks was adherent. Excavation within the area revealed other finds, including a cache of lead scraps, a ring of iron concretion, and about a hundred fragments of green bottle glass. The position of this area beneath the shipping channel through the South Mouth has caused a significant degree of modern contamination, limiting the evidential value of the assemblage.

Sites F (also known as Bellarmine Gully) and G are situated contiguously in about 8m depth of water on the W side of the channel through the South Mouth. They were found to contain the most densely concentrated remains so far discovered, and were free of modern contamination. Beneath the loose gravel over the greater part of both sites was a level of 'organic matte' which retained a considerable degree of inherent strength. This was formed of wood fragments and splinters (some of them highly degraded but others in good condition) with marine plant remains, fragments of coal and resin, seeds (including peppercorn) and pieces of leather. The peppercorns may be considered as residue from the ship's previous voyage, and the deposit had evidently accumulated very quickly to form an undisturbed 17th century horizon.

Site G was found to contain two areas which were heavily tar-impregnated and within which there were several substantial timbers (two of them 0.84m long) set in considerable puddles of tar. Two of these timbers (the only joined timbers in the wreck) were nailed together and probably represent a piece of planking with a length of anti-worm sheathing attached. The organic layer within the S of the area was particularly productive of artefacts, notably rope, footwear, pottery and clay pipe fragments.

The 'organic matte' is interpreted as having been formed relatively rapidly and soon after the ship was wrecked, explaining the clean and unabraded condition of the artefacts included. Although not certain, it appears most probable that this material was derived from the bilges, and was thus waterlogged before deposition. Heavier items found in sites F and G included a concretion which contained cheap jewellery and ornaments, bone dice, thimbles, silver coins, tobacco boxes, brass bodkins and a pocket sundial in quantities indicative of (illegal) private trading. A Bellarmine flagon was also found to have been buried in the organic level of site G and then broken into 55 pieces without being subsequently disturbed. This debris clearly derives from a specific part of the ship which broke away at the point where the seabed slopes steeply upwards.

The area around Stoura Stack was further investigated, and the location of discovery of over a hundred lead ballast-pigs recorded in a gully only 10m from the corner of the stack. Although they were found sunk up to four deep in the gravel and aligned with the direction of the gully, this must indicate the area in which the ship first struck. Other finds in the gully comprise considerable numbers of yellow Dutch bricks ('Overijsselsde Steen') and iron cannon balls of various sizes, which were also derived from the ballast.

It is suggested that the ship suffered major damage on hitting the stack, initially spilling heavy items from the bilges as the bottom split open. The floating remains then drifted northwards, driven by the southerly gale, so that the final location of the remains was determined by the state of the tide. If the wreck took place within about an hour of Low Water, an eastwards-setting tidal current would have washed debris ashore at Old Man Stack or beyond; this would account for the two cannon found in this area although a substantial portion of the ship would have to remain intact to support them. Under this theory, the area of wreckage to the SW of the stack must have been deposited later, possibly when it floated back through the South Mouth on the morning after the disaster. Alternatively, if the ship were wrecked within the other nine hours of the tidal cycle, distribution of the remains would have been controlled by the strong tidal flow out of the South Mouth, the cannon off Old Man Stack being unassociated with this loss.

The following finds are specifically noted:

Coins: a further seven coins (of various metals but none of them diagnostic) were found to add to the 59 silver coins found in two piles within site F.

Jewellery, ornaments and thimbles: objects found of this class included four brass tobacco-boxes, three heart-shaped pendants of pewter or similar alloy, and a variety of cheap jewellery (as noted above).

Clay pipes: over 400 varied fragments were found, all apparently made at Gouda.

Salt-glazed stoneware: a further complete flagon was found, to add to the four found previously. Over 800 fragments have also been found.

Oil-jar pottery: the discovery of 28 fragments is noted, apparently from a massive storage vessel.

Earthenware and other pottery: further substantial portions of pipkins have been recovered along with sherds of earthenware plates and bowls (notably on sites C, F and G) and substantial quantities of a very coarse ware which was probably derived from small crucibles.

Glass: over 1000 fragments of green bottle glass have been recovered, including several dozen bases. Some fragments of clear fine glass have also been found in a good state of preservation.

Pewter bottle tops: nearly a hundred of these items were found. Only one stamp has been noted, but variations in design are apparent.

Pewter objects: nine lengths of pewter handle (probably for spoons), seven lengths of handles with part of the bowl attached, one detached bowl, and five complete spoons have been found.

Lead objects: about 20 pieces of lead sheathing have been noted, and have neither discernible shape nor nail holes. Other lead objects include tags, weights and sounding leads.

Iron objects: most iron objects have been destroyed by corrosion or survive as casts in concretion. Two objects (one of them a ring-bolt) remain substantially intact.

Bronze and brass objects: apart from fish hooks, brass pins and a padlock, these comprise small functional pieces.

Navigational and scientific instruments: a pair of navigational bow dividers, a graduated wooden rule and fragments of pocket sundials were noted.

Armament: a further brass spike and a gun flint were found.

Wooden objects: over twenty treenails and four identifiable artifacts were found within the organic matte in sites F and G..

Rope and other organic material: peppercorns, rush matting, a 'Flemish coil' of plaited rope and various other fragments were also found within the organic matte in sites F and G..

Leatherwork: parts of twelve boots or shoes were found on sites F and G together with other scraps.

Objects of bone, horn or ivory: bone dice and knife-handles, horn combs and other objects were found.

Objects of stone: complete or fragmentary slate pencils and whetstones were found, as well as a semicircular slate and a grindstone.

(Background documentary and historical information cited: catalogue of finds with selected examples illustrated. The uses of specific navigational instruments are considered and illustrated. For site plan indicating excavated areas, see fig. 1, for plan of sites F and G, see fig. 2, and for sections across site G, see fig. 3. For plan indicating locations of artifacts around Stoura Stack, see fig. 10).

Summary by RCAHMS (RJCM) Undated

Source: R Price and K Muckelroy 1977.

Excavation (1974)

Stoura Stack, Shetland: Kennemerland. An interim report on the 1973 season of excavation on this Dutch East Indiaman of 1664 was published in IJNA 3.2 (1974), 257-68; this work was undertaken by a team from the Universities of Aston and Manchester (not Birmingham, cf. Post-Med. Archaeol. 8 (1974), 121). In 1974, a small team, led by R Price, continued the excavation; items recovered include further jewellery, leatherwork and rope, as well as a complete pocket sundial. The finds from both seasons' work have been conserved by Lerwick Museum, and a full report on the site is in preparation.

Summary by RCAHMS (RJCM) undated

Source: J Cherry 1975

1974 expedition to the Dutch wrecks of Out Skerries: a small privately organised expedition was put together somewhat hastily and began work in late July, continuing through to late September. All the diving was carried out using a 'Hookah' surface demand compressor, enabling prolonged periods of work under water. All the material recovered in 1974 is held by Mr T Henderson in Shetland County Museum.

The South Mouth Site (Kennemerland 1664): The excavation area begun in 1973 was extended. Detailed excavation was carried out in site F, an open-mouthed gully where one would expect mobile material to be trapped after the wreck broke up. The broad range of material recovered that this was indeed the case. We found an even carpet of artefacts in matrix and soft concretion. The condition of the artefacts indicates that there has been little tumbling action once the material settled into its carpet. Most of the artefacts found were comparable with material recovered in 1973.

The following finds are worthy of special mention:

Two horn combs, one in perfect condition; Several fragments of cargo matting of Eastern origin; A fragment of velvet(?) with glass beads embroidered onto the material to form a pattern. Probably part of a costume(?); A lump of knitted woollen material; A 'Flemish' coil of plaited rope, identified by Mr Henderson as a part of a sail gasket; The greater part of two ladies' shoes; Pocket sundial in excellent condition, in a complete and undamaged brass case. The compass-card is intact and the cardinal points are coloured red and blue alternately; Lignum vitae rule about 12 ins (0.3m) long with a scale marked 0, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25. This is probably part of an early staff-type, navigational instrument; A gunner's brass vent pricker; Part of a large iron-shoed wooden wedge, probably part of a gun elevating quior.

Summary by RCAHMS (RJCM) Undated

Source: R Price 1975.

Excavation (1976)

South Mouth, Out Skerries, Shetland: Kennemerland. A fourth season of work on this Dutch East Indiaman, wrecked in 1664, was carried out by Mr Richard Price with Mr Keith Muckelroy as project archaeologist. All material from the site has been deposited in the Shetland Museum, where the curator, Mr Tom Henderson, has undertaken the requisite conservation work.

Around Stoura Stack, the point on which the ship was initially wrecked, a collection of over 100 lead ingots from her ballast was discovered and raised. This find represents one of the largest recorded groups of 17th-century lead pigs, and an analysis of the constituent metal, control marks, and ingot forms is now in progress. Further N, where the vessel apparently broke up, two areas were excavated. One contained the remains of a large barrel, along with traces of its contents, barley, while the other was notable for a thick layer of matted wood, leather and other organic materials lying under about 10cm of gravel. Other finds from this site included much stoneware and pottery, clay pipes, an ivory pocket sundial, a brass padlock, and several knife handles.

Summary by RCAHMS (RJCM) Undated

Source: J Cherry 1977.

Specialist Report (1976)

This study attempts to interpret the relationship between documentary and archaeological evidence for the excavated wreck of a post-medieval ship of the type that has dominated British maritime archaeology in recent years. The Kennemerland, a merchant ship of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) left the Texel on 14 December 1664 (NS) bound for the East Indies but aiming to pass north of Britain to avoid naval activity in the English Channel. She struck Stoura Stack in the Out Skerries, Shetland, on 20th December and quickly disintegrated. Only three men survived.

Considerable salvage activity was carried out by local people, but most of their winnings were seized by agents of the Earl of Morton, who claimed possession by virtue of his position as Vice-Admiral of Orkney and Shetland. At the instigation of Charles II, the Exchequer in Edinburgh disputed possession with the Earl, and he was deprived of the goods, along with his position. The king subsequently granted rights of salvage to the Earl of Kincardine and it is the comprehensive records of these extended proceedings (including an inventory of the items thought to be on the ship) that form the basic documentary record for the loss.

Theoretically, the various processes acting on the remains may be considered as either filters extracting material from the assemblage or as scrambling devices rearranging the patterns within it. This paper illustrates the validity and potential of this approach.

(For system outputs, arranged by artifact-type, see tab. 1. For map of the site, see fig. 7).

Summary by RCAHMS (RJCM) Undated

Source: K Muckelroy 1976.

Change Of Classification (1977)

Assigned to class 3 ('dispersed but stable').

Source: K Muckelroy 1977.

Excavation (June 1978 - September 1978)

The investigations carried out on the wreck between June and September 1978 aimed to investigate areas left undisturbed in previous years, and to locate the limits of the site through wide-ranging visual and metal-detector surveys. The remains were afforded statutory protection through Designation under the Protection of Wrecks Act shortly before the start of the season.

Discoveries revealed no contextual or stratigraphic information which would require major modifications to previous interpretations. Several timbers and a further four lead ingots were discovered while further investigation of the concretion in the gully showed this to comprise nails and roundshot with underlying yellow bricks.

A further concentration of material was found NW of Stoura Stack and close to Pirrie Strack; this contained rope, lead sheeting, pewter bottle tops and green glass fragments. A further cannon was found to the E, on a ledge on the S face of Cella Stack and at a depth of about 17m; this must reflect the northwards progress of the foundering vessel. Excavation in shallow water revealed an extensive scatter of finds, including a complete stoneware flagon. Further bricks (but no other artifacts) were found at a depth of about 30m (the limit of safe diving) about 400m SW of Ubda.

A further iron cannon was found in 25m depth of water to the S of Old Man Stack; this abraded piece measures about 2m in length and is not demonstrably derived from the wreck of the Kennemerland.

The following artifacts are specifically noted:

Coins: the three coins found included a Zeeland rosschilling and a probable stuiver of West Friesland origin.

Pottery: a complete stone-glazed stoneware flagon was found.

Pewter: over 30 pewter bottle tops were noted, many of them bearing the central 'HK' device note previously. One unusually small example bears a 'Star of David' design. Other objects in this material found include spoons and unidentified forms.

Lead: a weight and a seal were found, the latter bearing an unidentified device.

Iron: numerous objects in this material were represented by their casts. A large hammerhead (with parts of its wooden shaft) was among those identified.

Brass: a seal and ten pins were identified; the former bears the intertwined letters VGK.

Armament: a brass spike and part of a bar shot were identified; the latter type has not been previously noted on this wreck.

Wood: many pieces and fragments have been recovered from concretions and stable strata; much is of oak and apparently structural. Other pieces found include staves and hazel hoops from a half-barrel formerly contained within concretion 4.

Rope and organic material: objects found within this class include pieces of fine tape (probably linen), paper, and matting or heavy sacking. A large lump of organic material was found buried in sand and gravel.

Leather: several pieces of boots and shoes (including a silver buckle) were found.

Bone, horn and ivory: knife-handles in bone and horn were found as well as a horn needle-case and tortoiseshell combs.

(For summary plan, see fig. 2).

Summary by RCAHMS (RJCM) Undated

Source: R Price and K Muckelroy 1979.

External Reference (1978)

(Kennermerland: site no. 19). The site was Designated in 1978.

Advisory Committee on Historic Wreck Sites 2004.

Specialist Report (1980)

The 119 lead ingots found on the seabed off Stoura Stack are significant both in the context of the wreck and within the wider setting of 17th century lead production. The ingots were found packed in the bottom of a gully or piled on the seabed, and were raised beneath empty tar barrels before being individually recorded. These ingots need not represent the totality of the lead carried on the vessel. A large area of metal detector contacts to the NW of the stack may indicate a further deposit, while some lead was possibly removed in early salvage operations.

The ingots consistently weigh just over 140kg, are boat-shaped (presumably for easy slinging) and are in some cases so similar that they were evidently cast in the same mould or at least from the same pattern. They bear varied stamps, and two (nos. 53 and 69) bear more elaborate decoration than the rest. Several display cooling-striations along the sides and many have concave upper surfaces, again through cooling. Some have bumps on the underside, reflecting damage to a sand mould on initial pouring, while deposition and settling on the seabed occasional caused dents or slight buckling; surface corrosion has produced a white or grey patina in some cases. Several examples are heavily encrusted with worm casts and other marine deposits.

Cluster analysis has identified nine groups, 28 ingots being misplaced or undefined, and indicated a close relationship between the stamps and variations in form. Analysis of the pattern of deposition indicates no obvious pattern of classes across the site, an impression which is generally confirmed by statistical evaluation. Exceptionally, the ingots found in the upper part of the main gully are of exceptional form and weight; these may represent 'makeweights' added to the upper layers.

The origin of the lead is unknown, although England (notably Derbyshire) or central Europe may be suggested. In general, the ingots conform to the pig-like shape typical of English examples, and an English origin appears most probable. The stamps are assumed to represent control-marks applied by producers, middlemen or the VOC; some may also represent dates.

(For details of individual ingots, see tab. 1. For dendrogram of cluster analysis and plan of locations of discovery, see figs. 13 and 14 respectively).

Information from RCAHMS (RJCM) Undated

Source: R Price, K Muckelroy and L Willies 1980.

Diver Inspection (1984 - 1988)

Further investigation of the wreck took place in 1984 and 1987 (when excavation was conducted) and in 1988 (when only a brief visit was made). In addition, five objects found previously were recognised as the heads of early golf clubs; artifacts of this type were subsequently recognised among the finds from the wreck of the Lastdrager [Lastrager: HP50SW 8001].

Although four areas around Stoura Stack were examined, operations during this phase aimed primarily to provide data concerning the distribution of objects scattered across a dispersed wreck so as to create interpretative models for the development of the site along the lines proposed by Muckelroy (1978, 196-214). Most of the available time was devoted to the main site, where excavation was carried out in areas 1m square defined from the original baseline, which was re-inserted. Work started in 1984 at the point where it ceased in 1978, and was continued in 1987 up to the points where the previously-defined sites A, B and C were linked. At the close of the latter season, exposed section (up to 0.4m high) was protected by building a barrier of large, flat stones. Extensive animal (crab) disturbance was noted.

No significant conceptual or processual re-interpretation was proposed but the discovery of the following artifacts is noted:

Coins: Campen 50. A silver Arendschilling of the Spanish Netherlands minted in Campen during the reign of Mathais I (1612-19).

Clay pipes: 46 fragments were noted, and accord with the varied pattern note previously, which suggests that the pipes on board belonged to various individuals, rather than forming part of the cargo.

Pewter: 26 bottle tops and over 65 fragments were noted; four examples were stamped HK.

Lead: a weight of diameter 48mm, thickness 17mm and surviving mass 281.25 gm was discovered. This may accord with a system of Amsterdam pounds (1 Amsterdam pound = 0.49409 kg) but erosion and accretion preclude accurate equation. A lead collar for an iron weight bears the stamped date 1664 and is inscribed VI. This apparently served to increase an iron weight to the correct figure and the Roman numerals served to denote the number of pounds of 'trooise weight'; the two holes served for location and the outlines of the gaugers' stamps are apparent. Ingot no. 305 was relocated and raised off Stoura Stack; it was seen to bear the stamp RI in addition to MR, but was stolen from Shetland Museum before being accurately weighed.

Navigational instruments: three complete or partial dividers were recovered.

Organic material: 68 complete and 13 fragments of plumstones (Prunus institutitia) were recognised in concretions, often with fragments of glass. Five stones were found inside a broken green glass case bottle, suggesting that the plums were stored in the bottle, in contrast to the 1973 discovery of peach stones in a stoneware flagon.

Stone: three fragments of a quernstone were found (comprising 85% of the whole). This is made of basalt, probably from the Eifel region of the Middle Rhineland.

Five objects found and recovered in 1978 about 50m N of the main site were identified by I Tait and D Stirk as the heads of golf clubs ('colfsloffen'). Together with those found on the wreck of the Lastdrager (HP50SW 8001) they form the earliest evidence for the spread of the game in Northern Europe. Each comprises a central wooden core with a lead alloy shell; three of the five were intended for left-handed play. Decoration is apparent on the best-preserved example, and may reflect the three saltires of the coat of arms of the City of Amsterdam. It is unclear from which part of the vessel they were laid down, but four of the five were found in close proximity, and may have been bound together at the head. They were apparently new when taken on board the vessel, probably as items of trade rather than private possessions.

The area of discovery of the golf club heads was subjected to detailed excavation, and found to comprise a wide 'table' of rock with sand patches under dense kelp; unlike the rest of the site, no gullies were apparent. No disturbance was apparent in the nine years between successive excavations, and the artifacts found in the area comprised mostly abraded potsherds (mostly of salt-glazed stoneware) and green glass.

Summary by RCAHMS (RJCM) Undated

Sources: R Stenuit 1991; C T C Dobbs and R A Price 1991.

Specialist Report (1987)

In May 1985, C Martin studied the finds from the Kennemerland held in Shetland County Museum, Lerwick, and assessed the pipes to be a coherent group manufactured in or slightly before 1664. In general, very few pipes are identical although their shapes are distinctively similar. This must imply that they were acquired from a variety of sources, most probably by individuals for their own use rather than as discrete batch or cargo. Stem-bore dating has not been attempted for this body of material.

Also studied were four decorated brass tobacco boxes found within a single concretion matrix:

1. egg-shaped cast brass box with a hinged lid and hooked catch. The lid decoration shows a peasant couple courting.

2. box of similar form to (1). The lid is captioned BACHVS and shows the god with wine-glass, bunch of grapes and cask. A townscape entitled DER GOV (Gouda) appears on the base.

3. oval box with brass lid and base, and copper sides. On the top is a scene which includes a turret post windmill with tiller beam, a tree and a house from whose upper window a flag or fish dangles on a pole. There is an inscription (cited) around the perimeter and on the base there is a townscape entitled HAERLEM.

4. a box similar to (3), from which the copper sides have decayed. On the lid there is a representation of a man holding a fish and a woman holding a bird with an inscription (cited). on the base there is a townscape entitled ALCKMAER.

These were probably unused items of cargo rather than personal possessions, and may similarly be considered as a closely-dated group. Each contains a metal tamping-spigot.

(Photographs and numerous drawings of tobacco boxes and clay pipes are reproduced. Comparanda and parallels for the boxes are cited).

Information from RCAHMS (RJCM) Undated

Source: C Martin 1987.

Diver Inspection (August 1990)

The site was assessed by the Archaeological Diving Unit (ADU) in August 1990.

Information from RCAHMS (GFG) 16 October 2012

Diver Inspection (29 June 1996 - 1 July 1996)

The site was assessed by the Archaeological Diving Unit (ADU) on 29th June 1996.

Information from RCAHMS (GFG) 16 October 2010

Reference (1996)

KENNERMERLAND: became a Designated Historic Wreck Site on 1 June 1978. The designation bans diving, fishing, anchoring, archaeological survey and any other activity which may impact on the site within a 250m radius of the given position unless under special licence from Historic Scotland.

The KENNERMERLAND was a Dutch East Indiaman outward bound from Batavia, which sank in December 1664 on Stoura Stack, Out Skerries, Shetland. The site was located by divers from Aston University in 1971. Archaeological investigations by amateur divers under the direction of professional archaeologists took place regularly until 1987.

Licences held: 1978-9 excavation, 1984 excavation, 1988 survey.

Information from RCAHMS (RJCM) Undated

Source: Archaeological Diving Unit 1996 (MS 829/11)

Reference (1998)

(Classified as 40-gun East Indiaman: no cargo specified, but date of loss cited as 20 December 1664). Kennermerlandt (Carmelan): this vessel was wrecked on Stoora [Stoura] Stack, Out Skerries.

Registration: Dutch. 300 tons [unspecified]. Length: 45m. Beam: 11m.

(Location of loss cited as N60 25.2 W0 45.0).

I G Whittaker 1998.

Diver Inspection (2002)

According to the 2006 report by Wessex Archaeology (MS 2782) an Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) survey of the Kennemerland was undertaken in 2002.

Information from RCAHMS (GFG) 17 October 2012

Note (30 January 2003)

The indicated location of this wreck falls in shallow water, and is apparently sheltered from all directions except the S. The nature of the seabed is not noted on the available chart.

Information from RCAHMS (RJCM), 30 January 2003.

HO chart no. 1233, (1982, revised 1993).

Note (2 June 2003)

This Dutch East Indiaman was wrecked within the South Mouth [name centred HU 687 715], a narrow voe or channel in the Out Skerries, on 13 December 1664 (20 December, new style), after first striking the (offshore) Stoura stack. Wreckage from the Advena (HU67SE 8002) overlies the remains in part.

The ship was then outward bound from Texel to Batavia with a complement of 200 and a rich ('treasure') cargo, taking the exposed northern route to avoid hostile warships in the English Channel. Only three men survived the stranding, being thrown onto the shore from high in the rigging.

Local people attempted salvage (presumably limited) immediately after the loss, and kept many items but surrendered the main treasure chests, which were awarded at court to King Charles II. Local tradition remembered the ship as the 'Carmelan frae Amsterdam'; documents relating to the loss survive in Scottish Court Records and in Amsterdam.

The wreck was discovered in 1971 and was subsequently the subject of a seven seasons of excavation and a further two of survey by R Price, K Muckelroy and other amateur divers of Aston University SAC. This work is highly significant as the basis for a series of observations (Muckelroy 1978, passim.) regarding the methodology of underwater excavation, exemplifying particularly the concepts of environmental site attributes, extracting filters and systems outputs.

Excavation revealed two distinct concentrations of debris across about 500m of seabed, forming an assemblage comparable with other wrecks of this type and date. At least four anchors, iron bars and shot, 119 lead ingots and yellow Dutch bricks were found at the base of the stack. These apparently formed a ballast deposit and indicate the point of initial contact, where the ship tore her bottom out.

Further finds (generally lighter, but including cannon) were found further into the voe, where the ship finally grounded and the rigging collapsed. These included goods intended for private trade and personal use (combs, a shot mould, tobacco boxes and copious fragments of green bottle glass), navigational instruments (dividers, a backstaff of early form, a globe-ring and a pocket sundial), and organic material (plum- and peach-stones, and peppercorns). Five heads of golf clubs were found, and one of the German stoneware flagons was full of mercury.

Although no coherent structural remains were discovered, fragments recovered from what was apparently the residue of the bilges indicate that the ship was planked in oak with a sheathing of pine. Examples were also found of a distinctive Dutch pattern of treenail.

The location cited for this loss falls in shallow water which is open to the SW, SE and S; the published chart not does stipulate the seabed type but the natural excavation matrix is cited as gravel. The dense cover of laminaria kelp was a constant impediment to archaeological operations. The wreck was not considered a closed deposit on account of the recorded presence of four other wrecks in the area: the Racer (HU67SE 8004) of 1888, the Watchful (HU67SE 8005) of 1906, the Nordwind (HU67SE 8003) of 1906, and the Advena (HU67SE 8002) of 1912. A bell and a compass from an unidentified but later wreck were found in 1971.

The artifacts recovered from this wreck are held in Shetland Museum, Lerwick.

(For schematic site plan, see Muckelroy 1978, 173, fig. 5.6 and 1980, 124. For analytical table of system outputs from this wreck, see Muckelroy 1978, 168, tab. 5.4.)

Information from RCAHMS (RJCM), 2 June 2003.

Sources: W A Forster and K B Higgs 1973; R Price and K Muckelroy 1974; R Price 1975; K Muckelroy 1976; K Muckelroy 1977; R Price and K Muckelroy 1977; K Muckelroy 1978; R Price and K Muckelroy 1979; R Price, K Muckelroy and L Willies 1980; K Muckelroy 1980; C T C Dobbs and R A Price 1991; J Delgado 1998.

HO chart no. 3282 (1980, revised 1991).

Project (19 August 2005 - 26 August 2005)

The wreck was visited by Wessex Archaeology between the 19th and 26th August 2005 under a contract for archaeological services issued by Historic Scotland in relation to the Protection of Wrecks Act (1973). Diving was precluded by strong winds, but several non-diving tasks were completed. Three anchors (HU67SE 40) thought to be related to the wreck were found on the island of Bruray, but their association with the wreck was discounted.

The following position was noted:

Statutory Instrument Position (SI 19): N60 25.12 W0 45.00 [HU 6882 7112] (OSGB-36)

Although the site is accorded a reasonable degree of protection by the islands of Housay, Bruray, Grunay, Old Man Stack and Ubda Stack, it is exposed to wind through the narrow mouth from the S. A thick covering of kelp (Laminaria digitata) was noted across the site.

(Detailed recommendations are made; the history of the ship and the study of the remains are summarised. Illustrations include location plan).


In the short term the exposed features need to be relocated, recorded and georeferenced. This could be done using a surface marker buoy whose position would then be established using either a portable GPS unit on a small boat, or by tracked diver survey. The site has been drawn and has undergone several phases of excavation. These site plans need geo-referencing to bring the archive up to present-day standards. Further investigation of the site is needed to assess any recent changes. The current main requirement for the site is for an assessment of the archive with a view to fully publishing the site.

Information from Niall Callan and Margaret Christie, Wessex Archaeology ltd., April 2006

Desk Based Assessment (19 August 2005 - 26 August 2005)

During the post-excavation process a limited archive assessment was conducted. This involved compiling a brief history of the vessel and a summary history of the archaeological investigations on the site. These sections were not based on a full assessment of all the documentary sources that may exist, but were rather just a summary of the information in those documents that were readily available to WA.

Information from Niall Callan and Margaret Christie, Wessex Archaeology ltd., April 2006

Diver Inspection (19 August 2005 - 26 August 2005)

During WA’s seven-day stay in the Out Skerries diving operations were not possible due to weather conditions. The site, despite being reasonably well sheltered by the islands of Housay, Bruray, Grunay, Old Man Stack and Ubda Stack, is exposed to wind coming up the narrow mouth from the south. WA’s visit was plagued by southerly, south westerly, and south easterly winds averaging a speed of Force 6 and at times reaching Gale Force 11. This incidentally would have been similar to the conditions the Kennemerland would have experienced when she sank. The conditions made mooring over the site that week impossible.

While attempting to moor over the site WA members visually surveyed the seabed in hope of seeing some of the reported remaining cannon. Although the site is very shallow (

A photographic record was compiled looking over the site in various weather conditions.

Three abandoned anchors thought by some to be related to one of the protected wreck sites were located on the island of Bruray. These were drawn 2Norman’s Bay Wreck: Archaeological Report Wessex Archaeology 53111.03nn and photographed by WA personnel. Subsequent information provided by Chris Dobbs ruled out a link between these anchors and the protected wreck sites.

Information from Niall Callan and Margaret Christie, Wessex Archaeology ltd., April 2006

Note (19 March 2007)

The Statutory Instrument location cited by Wessex Archaeology (MS 2782) is at variance with that formerly cited. The location cited by Wessex is preferred: HU 6882 7112.

Information from RCAHMS (RJCM), 19 March 2007.

Project (January 2011)

The Shetland Islands Council (SIC) has identified a need to widen and deepen the south entrance to the Out Skerries harbour. This will allow the harbour to be used at all states of the tide and in all weather conditions. This dredging work falls within the restricted area of the Protected Wreck Site Kennemerland. All such work has to be licensed by Historic Scotland due to the site's status, and a licensee appointed to oversee the agreed dredging methodology and archaeological mitigation.

To help define the current state of the site and to ascertain whether or not there is any current archaeology within the vicinity of dredging operations a swim over of the site was required.

The results of this research have been published in a number article in the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology. Although it has been excavated these excavations have only been limited to well defined areas. The swim over has proved that the site still has archaeological potential and that due care should be taken in assuming that there is no further archaeology on site. If there is archaeology on the surface in areas that have been noted as being excavated then there a high level of archaeological potential for buried archaeology throughout the site.

Information from Dr D.M McElvogue, January 2011

Diver Inspection (January 2011)

Based on the desk based assessment of the Kennermeland site 2 priorities for the swim over were identified. The first was to visually search the dredging areas and the second was to search for the two primary datum's so as the primary base line could be re-established.

Not all objectives were completed however the primary objects were achieved.

The cardinal point was located, it being an obvious landmark within the seascape of the south mouth. From the cardinal marker it was easy to orientate yourself and swim to sea bed due west form entering the water. As you do so you swim over the rock strata and down either down into a gulley or over a rock face.

From here it is easy to see where the dredging in area A is to take place. It is an obvious rock outcrop within the surrounding flat seabed. The area was visually surveyed and modern detritus mixed into the sea bed sediments as well as a single Dutch Brick found under a rock were noted.

After Inspecting area A the rock face at point C was inspected. Here the rock outcrop where dredging is to take place was inspected. The gulley proved to have no artefacts visible but a group of 3 Dutch bricks were found in the area between the gulley and the dredging area. At the base of the rock strata at least 10m away from the dredge area the primary datum was found. This is a climbing piton which has been hammered into the rock face.

After finding the primary datum a visual survey was carried out long the seabed towards the secondary datum. The secondary datum was not found but it is assumed that the actual area was not surveyed due to not having sum the full 50 meters due south.

The Cannon was not located due to time limits on site.

Information from Dr D.M McElvogue, January 2011

Desk Based Assessment (January 2011)

During the desk based assessment of published material on the Kennermeland it was noted that there have been a number of site plans have been produced for the Kennemerland. These range from “diagrammatical” general area site plans, to accurately produced specific area site surveys. Only the site plans and surveys of the northern site are of relevance to the dredging operations, and only these site plans have been assessed. All individual site plans accessed show topographical features and most if not all the archaeology is spatially recorded within these topographical features. This makes the relative accuracy of each site plan high, and allows for an ability to reconstruct the excavated areas with a high level of relative accuracy, despite a high level of inter-reliability between the individual site plans.

Information from Dr D.M McElvogue, January 2011

Reference (2011)

Whittaker ID : 351


Latitude : 602512

Longitude : 4500

Registration : DUTCH


Tonnage : 300

Length : 45

Beam : 11

Draught : 5m

Position : Protected Wreck

Loss Day : 20

Loss Month : 12

Loss Year : 1664

Comment : Wrecked on Stoora Stack, Out Skerries

Reference (19 April 2012)

UKHO Identifier : 000111

Feature Class : Wreck

State : LIVE

Status : Historic

Classification : Unclassified

Position (Lat/long) : 60.42000,-0.75000


WGS84 Position (Lat/long) : 60.41945,-0.75202

WGS84 Origin : 3-D Cartesian Shift (BW)

Position Quality : Precisely known

Depth Quality : Depth unknown

Water Depth : 3

Vertical Datum : Lowest Astronomical Tide



Flag : DUTCH

Date Sunk : ??/12/1664

Contact Description : None reported

Original Sensor : None reported

Original Detection Year : 1978

Original Source : Other

Circumstances of Loss : **WRECKED AT OUT SKERRIES HARBOUR.


Chart Symbol : WK HIS


Date Last Amended : 11/03/1999

Watching Brief (4 June 2013 - 11 June 2013)

The Shetland Islands Council (SIC) identified a need to widen and deepen the south entrance to the Out Skerries harbour, to allow it to be used at all states of the tide and in all weather conditions.

A desk based assessment and preliminary visual survey of the site identified archaeological potential at risk. A limited excavation and metal detector survey of the possible impacted areas was carried out in April 2011, and reported in the 2011 licensee’s report. The recommendations from this Kennemerland Licensee’s Report included a watching brief of dredging operations and post dredging seabed survey. This licensees report is about the watching brief of the dredging operations. The licensee’s onsite representative was Mark James. A post rock removal archaeological seabed survey will be carried out between 3 and 6 months after this

A VideoRay inspection ROV was used to visually inspect all drilling operations, rock breaking and pre and post dredging operations surveys.

The overall impact of the dredging operations to the wreck site of the historic ship Kennermeland of the dredging operations were minimal. It is Kennemerland Licensee’s Report 2013 worth noting for future works that the minimal and controlled use of explosives on a robust site, comprising largely of bedrock, should be considered as a viable option from the beginning. Minimal rock debris remains on the seabed; that which does will is small and its recovery would have had a greater impact on potential archaeological remains left to remain in-situ. The contractor, remained conscientious of the impact they could potentially be having on the area and remained vigilant and compliant throughout the project. The involvement of the local fishermen and Salmon farmers also ensured that any potentially negative impacts to the environment or the fish farm were adequately mitigated.

information from Dr D.M.McElvogue, Shetland Islands Council, 18th June 2013

Diver Inspection (26 October 2013 - 27 October 2013)

HU 68847 71364 The Shetland Islands Council identified a need to widen and deepen the S entrance to the Out Skerries harbour, to allow it to be used at all states of the tide and in all weather conditions. The required work fell within the restricted area of the protected wreck site of the Kennemerland and a licensee was appointed, to meet Historic Scotland requirements, to oversee the agreed dredging methodology and archaeological mitigation.

The wreck site of the Kennemerland represents the remains of the earliest identifiable Dutch East Indiaman to be protected within UK waters. The character of the Kennemerland is known from extensive contemporary historical sources. It was involved in deep sea international trade to the Far East as part of the trading activity of the largest contemporary mercantile concern, the VOC. Elements of the archaeology found on site are internationally unique and represent some of the earliest examples of their kind to be found on a shipwreck, such as the golf club heads. Other less unique finds have the potential to provide information about trade links and commodities carried by vessel engaged in international trade and early navigation. The Kennemerland also represents a key site in the development of the academic study of Maritime Archaeology.

A desk-based assessment and preliminary diver survey (2011) of the seabed encompassing the proposed dredging area identified remaining archaeological potential at possible risk from the proposed rock removal works. Limited excavation and a metal detector survey of the possible impacted areas was seen as the best mitigation strategy prior to the dredging activities. The impacted areas have been identified as the areas on the seabed where rock might fall off the rock strata to be excavated onto the seabed below. The on site dredging operations and watching brief were carried out in June 2013 and a licensee’s report submitted. A post rock removal seabed survey was carried out on 26 and 27 October 2013 and a licensee’s report submitted on its findings.

Thanks are due to Philip Robertson of Historic Scotland and John Williamson of the Shetland Islands Council for their support. Ian Tait of Shetland Museum is acknowledged for his support and access to the museum’s files and Pieta Greaves of AOC for conservation advice.

Douglas M McElvogue, TrenDive, 2013

(Source: DES)

Diver Inspection (8 June 2014 - 15 June 2014)

In June 2014 a Cotswold Archaeology dive team undertook a survey of the wreck of the Kennemerland off the Out Skerries, Shetland. The work was conducted as part of the Heritage Assessment in Relation to Marine Designation: Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish Territorial Waters contract. It was undertaken to a brief supplied by Historic Scotland.

The Kennemerland was a ship of the Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (the Dutch East India Company or VOC). It was wrecked in December 1664 while en route to Batavia. Britain and the United Provinces of the Free Netherlands were on the verge of war at this time and VOC ships were taking the longer route north around Scotland to avoid the risk of interception in the English Channel. The Kennemerland was lost when, running ahead of a southerly gale, she struck Stoura Stack at the entrance to the South Mouth, Out Skerries and broke in half. The wreck's forepart foundered in the deep water adjacent to Stoura Stack and the remaining stern portion was swept into the harbour and washed up on Bruray Island before being swept back out to sea on the following tide. The wreck was discovered in 1971 by members of the Aston University Sub Aqua Club and was subsequently subject to several seasons of excavation during the 1970s and 1980s.

Diving operations took place between 8th and 15th June 2014. The primary objective was to locate surviving elements of the wreck, position-fix them and thus achieve an up-to-date plan of seabed remains for comparison against the previous archaeological plans. These objectives were achieved for most of the features shown on the previous plans that were not lifted during the 1970s and 1980s.

Cotswold Archaeology, December 2014

Diver Inspection (8 June 2014 - 15 June 2014)

In June 2014 a Cotswold Archaeology dive team undertook a survey of the wreck of the Kennemerland off the Out Skerries, Shetland. The work was conducted as part of the Heritage Assessment in Relation to Marine Designation: Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish Territorial Waters contract. It was undertaken to a brief supplied by Historic Scotland.

Diving operations took place between 8th and 15th June 2014. The primary objective was to locate surviving elements of the wreck, position-fix them and thus achieve an up-to-date plan of seabed remains for comparison against the previous archaeological plans. These objectives were achieved for most of the features shown on the previous plans that were not lifted during the 1970s and 1980s.

During the course of the project a total of 31hrs and 37mins bottom time was achieved on site over the course of eight working days. Fifteen individual features were located of which 12 were identified on historic site plans.

A comparison between the positions of seabed remains as recorded in 2014 and the georeferenced positions of the corresponding remains from the historic site plans has been created. The primary site datum was located and position-fixed at the start of the project to ensure a known and fixed point was used in the dereferencing of the site plans.

information from Mark James and Sally Evans, Cotswold Archaeology, December 2014

Artefact Recovery (28 May 2016 - 1 June 2016)

Wessex Archaeology (Scotland) was commissioned by Historic Environment Scotland (HES) to complete ingot recovery and monitoring as part of the Scottish Underwater Archaeological Services contract (HS/C/2804). The objective was on the Out Skerries Historic Marine Protected

Area (HMPA5) and included the recovery of several lead ingots that form part of the Kennemerland site, and survey of a previously dredged area that also forms part of the Kennemerland site.

A total of five lead ingots were recovered from the Kennemerland site, recorded by measurement, outline-drawing, photography and photogrammetry,

and transferred to the Shetland Museum and Archive to be weighed and conserved. The ingots expanded the previous collection of ingots raised in the 1980s.

Information from Isger Vico Sommer, Wessex Archaeology (Scotland), 7th October 2016

Artefact Analysis (28 February 2017 - 28 February 2017)

HU 68826 71273 Wreck of Dutch East Indiaman Kennemerland, wrecked 1664, in South Mouth, Out Skerries, Shetland. This wreck was found in 1971 and excavated in the summers of 1973, 1974, 1976 and 1978 under the direction of Keith Muckelroy. After his death in 1980, there were a further two seasons in 1984 and 1987 under the direction of Christopher Dobbs. All the finds were deposited in Shetland Museum, and conserved by museum staff. After an initial evaluation exercise during a family holiday in 2016, grant aid from HES was awarded for two weeks’ work in October 2017 to photograph, draw and research the finds and bring them to publication. A report was submitted to HES in March 2018.

HU 66443 70239 Wreck of Dutch East Indiaman de Liefde, wrecked 1711, in Mio Ness, Out Skerries, Shetland. This wreck was found in 1964 and has been excavated or salvaged intermittently by various individuals and organisations since then. Although most of the many coins found were sold, enough material has reached Shetland Museum by donation

or purchase to merit a similar recording exercise, which was carried out in September 2018.

Archive: NRHE and Shetland Museum and Archives (intended)

Funder: HES (Kennemerland)

Colin Martin and Paula Martin – Morvern Maritime Centre

(Source: DES, Volume 19)

OASIS ID: waherita1-298376

External Reference

(Name cited as Kennemerland). The Shetland Museum has acquired all the excavated artifacts from this wreck. These await listing and formal accession.

NMRS, MS/829/65.


For partially-overlying wreck of the Advena, see HU67SE 8002.

For anchors (apparently not associated) found on the island of Brurary during fieldwork, see HU67SE 40.

For adjacent beacon (daymark), see HU67SE 41.

Location formerly cited as Centred HU 6863 7151 [N60 25.3 W0 45].


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