Beneath the waves of the North Sea lies a valuable archaeological resource. Thousands of wrecks – of ships and also planes – lie like time capsules on the sea bed. Little remains of some wrecks, while others are still virtually intact. We do not know the precise location of some, and sometimes we are unaware of the existence of others.

Importance of wrecks

Every wreck is unique and tells its own story. Many ships have sunk in this region over the centuries, from prehistoric logboat to Viking ships, from Dutch East India Company ships to steamships, from submarines to patrol boats, and from fishing boats to more recently lost freighters. Together, these wrecks give us an insight into the maritime history of the North Sea, which gives them cultural value.

Wrecks are also biodiversity hotspots, home to entirely different plants and creatures than the surrounding sea bed. This also makes wrecks interesting for fishermen and divers. Not every wreck is ecologically valuable. This depends on various factors, including the age of the wreck, the material in the wreck and its distance from the coast.

North Sea wrecks, an overview

The poster 'North Sea wrecks, an overview' and the poster ‘Wrecks in Dutch waters’ are designed to raise awareness of the importance of wrecks and give a visual impression of the maritime history of the North Sea. A number of wrecks from each period are shown on the map. One wreck from each period is highlighted with a brief description and illustration.