One of the top pieces in the collection at 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 is currently being examined by an international team of scientists, as a result of which this top piece of exhibit is not being displayed in the museum at the moment. In the exhibition Diving in Details, you can follow the research of the surfaced treasures from the Palmwood wreck. On a large touchscreen, you can choose from stories, photos and background information. The research will be completed in 2021, at which time the objects from the wreck will be exhibited in the museum.