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Photos: Opulent Royal Booty Unearthed from a 17th Century Shipwreck

Narrow waterway

texel ship canal

(Image credit: Kaap Skill)

Archaeologists recently unearthed the well-preserved clothing of a royal lady-in-waiting from a shipwreck off the Netherlands. The ship sank in the Wadden Sea, an area where hundreds of boats sank while waiting for cargo. Here, a recreation of the waterway at the Museum Kaap Skil in the Netherlands.

Click on to see the ancient ball gown a silk damask and other royal items in her wardrobe.

Royal Goods

bowl covering from the house of stuart

(Image credit: Kaap Skill)

The archaeologists unearthed a box filled with well-preserved clothing, including cloaks, bodices, stockings and a long dress. The shipwreck also yielded other treasures, such as this pottery cover.

House of Stuart

(Image credit: kaap skil)

Historians recently determined that the clothing once belonged to Jean Kerr, a lady-in-waiting to the English Queen Henrietta Maria. Part of the evidence were book coveres emblazoned with the Stuart seal. Another line of evidence was a letter that one Stuart relative sent in March 1642, recounting that Henrietta Maria's ladies-in-waiting had lost their clothing at sea.

Gorgeous and opulent

exquisite dress from shipwreck

(Image credit: Peter de Vries Kaap Skil)

The dress was made of a gorgeous damask silk, had a fluffy, large collar, a ruffled vee at the hips and long, open sleeves. It wsa a hefty size, making it more likely to be the clothing of Jean Kerr, who was older than the other lady in waiting.

Fine detail

woven dress

(Image credit: Emmy de Groot, UvA)

The damask was made of Japanese silk woven with an intricate flower design. Though the fabric now has many hues, it was likely one color when it was worn.

Modeling the style

museum show of textiles

(Image credit: Kaap Skil)

Here, models show off the style of the recovered dress during a fashion show.

Lady in white

portrait of a woman in white

(Image credit: Alonso Sanchez Coello)

Here, another painting shows what the dress likely looked like on.

Similar style

catherine knevet

(Image credit: William Larkin, 1615)

This painting of Catherine Knevet from the 1600s shows a similar style to the dress that was found aboard the ship.

Tia Ghose
Tia has interned at Science News,, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and has written for the Center for Investigative Reporting, Scientific American, and ScienceNow. She has a master's degree in bioengineering from the University of Washington and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California Santa Cruz.