A large bank of shoal sands, which are partially exposed at low water. It lies nearly 10 kilometres (6 mls.) off the Kent coast near the entrance to the English Channel from the North Sea. The sands are shifting and attempts in the past to erect a lighthouse on them to mark the danger always failed. Today they are marked by lightships.
The shoal forms the eastern shelter of the anchorage known as the Downs and is traditionally the site of an island known as Lomea, part of the lands of Earl Godwine. The island is said to have submerged during the 11th century when Godwine diverted the money earmarked for its protection to building the steeple of Tenterden church. The present name is derived from Godwine.
The sands, because of their shifting habit, are particularly dangerous to shipping, and many good ships have met their end on them. During the great storm of 1703, thirteen British men-of-war anchored in the Downs, together with several merchant ships, were driven onto the Goodwin Sands and all were lost, perhaps the most terrible of the many disasters associated with the Sands.
Subjects: Maritime History.