Mystery shipwreck washes up in Stockholm

Archaeologists were given a thrill in Sweden this week when the remains of a ship dating from the 1600s were discovered in central Stockholm. The ancient planks, which were found by labourers carrying out renovation works in front the city’s Grand Hotel, are sewn together with rope rather than nailed – a virtually unknown technology.

“The discovery of the wreck is extremely interesting given the place where it was made. There was a naval shipyard on this spot until the start of the 17th century,” Maritime Museum director Hans-Lennarth Ohlsson said in a statement.

Marine archaeologist Jim Hansson, also from the Maritime Museum, was first called to the site by an excavator who found something rather unusual in his bucket. “We were super-excited. It may sound a little strange when one finds little excavated pieces of parts of a ship, but I have never seen anything like it,” he said in a report by The Local.

He added that with the exception of one ship discovered in 1896, all over wrecks found around Stockholm harbour have featured nailed-together planks. “We really know nothing about this technique other than that it was used in the east,” Hansson said.

Hansson believes the ship could originate from Russia and that its position deep into the quay suggests that it was made in the 1600s or earlier. Archaeologists have not yet been able to gauge how long before 1700 it might have sunk, however.

The Marine archaeologists will now send samples of the wood to Denmark’s National Museum for analysis and oversee the rest of the excavation. “It is pretty damn nerve-wracking. It is rare that an archaeologist gets to take a part in something like this. One gets to leave the kids at home and stand in a pit of mud at Christmas,” Hansson joked.

Photo: Jens Lindstrom/Maritime Museum