Detail Japon uit het PalmhoutwrakOne of the top pieces in the collection at Museum Kaap Skil is a seventeenth century dress of royal allure, surfaced from the bottom of the Wadden Sea. This dress is currently being examined, after which it will be displayed again at Kaap Skil. The impressive silk dress was found in a shipwreck that was given the name ‘Palmhout‘ (Palmwood) wreck. The precious garment has remained practically intact despite a stay of almost four centuries on the sea floor. It is a unique find worldwide; hardly any clothing from the seventeenth century has been preserved. Scientists expect to need years to answer all the questions that the dress has raised.


The dress is made of silk. The fabric is woven in damask and richly decorated with a floral motif. It is almost certain that the dress had one color. Both the model of the dress and the wide use of silk suggest an owner from higher circles of society. No silver or gold thread was discovered in its fabric, but it was found in other textile from the Palmwood wreck. It’s possible that this dress was meant for daily use.


The dress is made up of a bodice with a pleated full skirt which fans open at the front. The bodice has attached sleeves, with loose-fitting ruffles and sleeve caps. The neck has an upright collar. The model of the dress shows similarities with clothes depicted in paintings from the early seventeenth century. The red dress worn in a William Larkin painting of Countess Catherine Howard is very similar to the surfaced dress. Interestingly, various garments from the Palmwood wreck seem to be the same size. They probably belonged to the same owner.


The Dress and other unique finds from the Palmwood wreck will be on display in a new, spectacular exhibition from July 2022 onwards. A special oxygen-free display cabinet is being made for The Dress, which will optimally preserve this showpiece and make it possible to view it from all angles.

More to discover

Subscribe to our (Dutch) newsletter
What do we use your data for?
Volg ons

#kaapskil on social media

Vissersstraatje in het openluchtmuseum van Kaap Skil
Schepen van maritieme maquette bij Museum Kaap Skil
Deur van molen in openluchtmuseum van Museum Kaap Skil
Touwslagers in openluchtmuseum van Museum Kaap Skil
Vissershuisje in Museum Kaap Skil
Hoofdgebouw Museum Kaap Skil