'Haarlem 1647' Project News


ARNHEM (NL) - 6 March 2020 - On tuesday the 9th of March the South African Archaeological Society will livestream a lecture by Bruno Werz on YouTube. The link to the YouTube Live event is https://youtu.be/jJe_Y5_rniw and the title is “Finding Haarlem, the Missing Shipwreck”. The lecture starts 18:30 hrs (Cape Time) (17:30 hrs Central European Time).

On the 25th of March 1647, shortly after five o’clock in the afternoon, the United Dutch East India Company ship Haarlem wrecked in Table Bay. The events that followed had far-reaching consequences, and this incident can be regarded as the catalyst that created one of the roots of modern South Africa. Since 1989, a project has been underway to search for Haarlem. 

This presentation provides a brief overview of work undertaken to date which has resulted in the location of a site that, based on currently available evidence, possibly contains the wreck. 

The video of the lecture can be watched afterwards by clicking this link.


ARNHEM (NL) - 27 February 2020 - Recently an article by Bruno Werz was published in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Anthropology. The article is called 'Maritime Archaeological Research in Sub-Saharan Africa' and can be read free of charge by clicking on this link.


ARNHEM (NL) - 23 August 2020 - Archaeology, a magazine published by The Archaeological Institute of America, covered the Haarlem Shipwreck story in this months edition under the title "South Africa's Fateful Shipwreck. A seventeenth-century vessel foundered off the coast and transformed a nation’s history".


ARNHEM (NL) - 27 June 2020 - Last month the Dutch newspaper 'Trouw' (edition 88.000 copies) published a two-page story on the search for the Haarlem shipwreck, also called (Nieuw) Haerlem.  A last quote in the article stated "No other country can relate such a part of history to one shipwrecking".

Reporter Niels Posthumus, correspondent in South Africa for 'Trouw' interviewed Bruno Werz for this article a few months ago. Werz stated that an excavation of the shipwreck is estimated to cost about 1,5 million Euro. The excavation could be undertaken once more evidence about the origin of the discovered shipwreck will be available. 

At this very moment samples of wooden and metal artifacts  are examined in a laboratory in Johannnesburg. Werz is looking forward to the results which may provide him with more evidence that the test excavation was conducted on the shipwreck of 'Haarlem'

The article (in Dutch) can be read by clicking on this link.



ARNHEM (NL) - 3 March 2020 - In Weert, the former hometown of AIMURE's CEO Bruno Werz, a rumour about finding the Haarlem shipwreck spread very quickly yesterday. Bruno Werz however recently found the remains of an English shipwreck from the 19th century. The work on the beach was noticed by somebody who related this with the search for the Haarlem shipwreck. 

Who the source of this 'news' was and how this mix-up reached Weert remains a mystery, but it shows the great public interest for the Haarlem project . Local newspaper 'De Limburger' covered this story after a phone call with Bruno who stated that he is still waiting for the result of a laboratory investigation on the wreck samples to prove that they originate from the Haarlem shipwreck.  


CAPE TOWN - 14 February 2020 - Two local Capetonian newspapers reported recently on the search for the Haarlem shipwreck. They attended a talk of AIMURE’s CEO Dr. Bruno Werz in January at the Dolphin Beach Hotel. This venue is located at very close range of the presumed shipwreck location.

Atlantic Sun and Tabletalk are two free weekly community newspapers available in print and digital format. The printed editions are distributed in an edition of over 99,000 copies at households in Cape Town. The digital article of the Atlantic Sun can be read here and the article of Tabletalk here.  

Once again the story of the Haarlem shipwreck, the ship that had an impact on the history of a whole nation, as Dr. Bruno Werz was quoted as being his drive to search for the wreck.


“The shipwreck that forever changed South Africa”


ARNHEM (NL) - 16 January 2020 - Recently the Britisch Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) published an extensive article on the Haarlem shipwreck  titled “The shipwreck that forever changed South Africa”. The article can be read here.



Lelystad (NL) - 30 October 2019 - By special invite of Mr Arent Vos, AIMURE board members Mr Harry Gerritsen and Dr Bruno Werz were given a special treat recently. For a full day they were allowed access to the Batavia wharf (Batavialand) and the reconstruction of the 17 th century VOC ship ‘Batavia’ that foundered off the Australian coast in 1629.

Mr Vos is a maritime archaeological researcher and specialist on ship construction methods. He is one of the key persons that stood at the cradle of maritime archaeological research in the Netherlands. Currently an official of the Dutch state department of cultural heritage (RCE), he is based at the Batavia wharf in Lelystad. 

During the visit, Mr Vos and Bruno Werz compared notes on the development of maritime archaeology in both the Netherlands and South Africa. One of the sad conclusions is that the formerly internationally known Netherlands Institute for Ship and underwater Archaeology (NISA) with its many specialists and facilities and wich Bruno Werz himself last visited some 15 years ago does not exist anymore because of political choices. Nevertheless, with recent developments in the search for ‘Haarlem’, both researchers agree that new impetus can be stimulated in both countries. 

‘Batavia’ and ‘Haarlem’ were both constructed at the Amsterdam shipyard of the VOC only a few years apart. Both ships were of the same class or ‘charter’, with a length of about 45 metres and a width of 10 metres. During the first half of the 1980’s, a project to reconstruct ‘Batavia’ started under the guidance of a shipwright. The project provided skills and temporary employment for a variety of people. 

With the life-size reconstruction completed, this currently provides an excellent comparison as to what can be expected once the wreck of ‘Haarlem’ is located and excavated. At the end of the visit, Mr Vos expressed his interest and willingness to cooperate in the ‘Haarlem’ Project, by providing expert advice on especially ship construction methods. He is also looking forward to contribute to the production of the television documentary that is currently taking place. 

With a behind the scene visit to the extensive depot for excavated archaeological objects from shipwrecks, our busy but most rewarding day ended. 


CULEMBORG (NL) - 24 October 2019 - In the Dutch city of Culemborg, the birth town of Jan van Riebeeck, Bruno Werz delivered a lecture on the ‘Haarlem Project’ in the ‘Fransche School’ by invitation of Museum ‘Jan van Riebeeckhuis’ and the historical society ‘Genootschap Voet van Oudheusden’.

Jan van Riebeeck is well known as the founder of the refreshment station at the Cape in 1652. In his lecture Bruno explained for what reasons the board of directors of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) decided to establish this station and that this was the direct result of the foundering of ‘Haarlem’ five years earlier (25 March 1647). 

In the search for the wreck of ‘Haarlem’, thorough studies of historical documents, geophysical surveys and recent test excavations that provided a number of samples, led Bruno to the conclusion that he has found a seventeenth century VOC-shipwreck, probably of the “Haarlem’. Further surveys, laboratory analyses and eventually a full excavation may prove his preliminary conclusions.

The search for ‘Haarlem‘ is a work in progress for about 30 years. The shipwreck played an important, if not crucial role in the history of Cape Town and South Africa.

About 90 interested people attended the lecture and they, as well as the organizing parties, donated a substantial amount of money which will be used for further research on the discovered shipwreck. Bruno Werz was very pleased with the support and the great interest for the ‘Haarlem Project‘. He was invited to give another lecture in Culemborg in future when the project shows up more progresses.             



HOUTEN (NL) - 15 October 2019 – Today Bruno Werz presented a lecture in Houten on invitation of ‘College de Heemlanden’.

This school organizes a trip to Cape Town for their students every year. Earlier this year, a class met Bruno in Cape Town for a guided city tour.

They, as well as the students that are going to visit Cape Town next year, were informed about the recent developments in the ‘Haarlem Project’.

All together about 60 students, parents and teachers were present at the lecture. 


ARNHEM (NL) - 12 October 2019 - Bruno Werz will present a couple of lectures  on the 'Haarlem Project' this month in The Netherlands. The following dates are confirmed:

Tuesday the 15th of October 18.30 hrs at 'College de Heemlanden'  De Slinger 48 in Houten 

Thursday the 24th of October 20.00 hrs at 'Fransche School' Havendijk 1 in Culemborg. 


CAPE TOWN - 12 October 2019 – In August, the AIMURE applied for a permit for an additional survey and a full excavation of the shipwreck of ‘Haarlem’.

Although some issues regarding a full excavation still have to be resolved, in a letter of 3 October 2019 the Maritime and Underwater Cultural Heritage unit (MUCH) of the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) indicated their support for the proposed project:

"For these reasons, the MUCH unit at SAHRA would like to indicate our support for the proposed project and encourage  the applicant to pursue further research and the sourcing of funds to make it a reality."


CAPE TOWN - 10 October 2019 -  To date, all research related to the ‘Haarlem Project’ has been sponsored or privately funded. 

Only a few days ago, a new sponsor indicated its willingness to support the project by undertaking the aerial and soil resistivity surveys that are still required, free of charge. 

This company, Botswana based Spectral Geophysics, thus follows in the footsteps of others that have already donated expertise, manpower, equipment and funding. 

These include: Broadband Geophysical, Guerrini Marine Construction, WSP Coastal Engineers, Shango Solutions, Subtech, Underwater Surveys, iThemba Labs and the School of Geosciences, University of the Witwatersrand.


WEERT (NL) - 15 September 2019 -  CEO Bruno Werz of the AIMURE presented a lecture in his birth town Weert in the Netherlands. A local news source reported about the lecture in the medieval church 'De Paterskerk' (1469-1526). About 150 highly interested people attended the lecture, making every available seat occupied. Art-is mediagroep interviewed Bruno Werz at this occasion. The interview (in Dutch) can be watched by clicking on this link

Foto: Harry Gerritsen


CAPE TOWN - 5 September 2019 - The mayor of the Dutch City of Haarlem sent Bruno Werz of the AIMURE a letter regarding the 'Haarlem Project'. In this letter, the mayor Drs. J. Wienen congratulates the AIMURE on the recent project achievements. 

Mayor Wienen also indicates that the project could shed new light on the history of the City of Haarlem and that the project delivers proof that the shipwreck survivors were at the base of the origin of the City of Cape Town.  

The people of Haarlem are, due to the name 'Haarlem' of the wrecked ship, very curious to hear about the further results of the 'Haarlem Project'.


CAPE TOWN - 22 August 2019 - Following last week’s announcement that it is for 95 percent certain that the location where the wreck of the VOC ship ‘Haarlem’ foundered has been located, the media responded in an overwhelming way. A flurry of articles appeared in both national and international newspapers, magazines and web sites. In the Netherlands, national newspapers ‘Algemeen Dagblad’ and ‘De Telegraaf’ published page size articles on the ‘Haarlem Project' and were followed by provincial newspapers, bringing the readership in that country alone to a few million.

(c) Algemeen Dagblad
In the USA, Fox News reported on the project, whereas Telesur broadcasted all over  South America. Other radio and television stations in South Africa, Africa, the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe, even as far as China and Indonesia, featured the ‘Haarlem Project'. For a sample, please see the heading ‘Publicity’ that contains a number of links.


(c) Haarlems Dagblad


CAPE TOWN - 16 August 2019 - During a press conference on Friday the 16th of August, maritime archaeologist and historian Dr Bruno Werz and a panel of other experts  presented an overview of recent developments in the search for the shipwreck of 'Haarlem'. This has resulted in the location of a site that, based on the currently available evidence, in all likelihood contains the wreck of this ship. The site, recorded as Site F, is situated just offshore, about 2 m underwater and at a depth of about 3 to 4 m below the sea bed, close to the Dolphin Beach Hotel in Table View, Cape Town. See the map below.

"No shipping disaster world-wide had ever suchan impact on the history of an entire nation"

Different types of information obtained from archival documents, cartographic research, geological information and geophysical led to this conclusion. Based on the combined results of these different research approaches, there is a chance of 95 % that the location of the wreck of ‘Haarlem’ has been found. The ultimate proof will be the discovery of 19 iron cannon and 4 iron anchors, as it has been recorded that these items were left behind when the wreck was abandoned. Only future excavation can tell.

'Haarlem Project'

On 25 March 1647 the Dutch East India Company (VOC) ship ‘Nieuw Haarlem’ or ‘Haarlem’ wrecked in Table Bay, South Africa. The events that followed had far-reaching consequences for the history of this country. Of the people on board, 58 were repatriated by accompanying ships soon after the incident, but 62 men were left behind to try and salvage as much as was possible. They found refuge in a makeshift camp where they lived for about one year. During their stay, the men from ‘Haarlem’ came into contact with indigenous people. 

Upon returning to the Dutch Republic, they reported favourably of their experiences. As a result, VOC management decided to establish a stopover for their ships. This station, that became known as the ‘Tavern of the Seas’, later developed into the City of Cape Town. 

"The wrecking of ‘Haarlem’ can be regarded as the catalyst that created not only Cape Town, but also current multiracial and multicultural South African society"

Since 1989, a research project is underway to search for the shipwreck and survivor camp. The objective is to locate both sites and, once found, to excavate them according to the highest achievable standards. Permission for the project has been obtained from the relevant authorities. The project is entirely supported by sponsors and volunteers.  

For further information, please see http://www.aimure.org or contact Dr Bruno Werz at ceo@aimure.org 

How can you be of help?

You can assist the project by sharing this website and any information regarding the project. We will also set up a second GoFundme-campaign to fund futher research on the shipwreck. Any donations will be very much appreciated.

Site F1 indicates the most probable location of the schipwreck of 'Haarlem', to the southwest of the Dolphin Beach Hotel complex


(c) AIMURE 2017 -2021

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