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'World's oldest' wreck found in Swedish Baltic

'World's oldest' wreck found in Swedish Baltic

Published: 15 Jul 2011 10:07 GMT+02:00
Updated: 15 Jul 2011 10:07 GMT+02:00

What looks very much like a cog, a ship used in the Baltic between the 12th and the 14th centuries, has been discovered in the waters between the islands of Gotland and Öland off the east coast of Sweden.

The vessel showed up in sonar pictures of the area, causing experts on shipwrecks to believe that they may have the world’s oldest intact shipwreck on their hands.

“The hairs at the back of my neck stood up when I first saw the pictures,” said shipwreck expert Erik Bjurström to the local Barometern daily.

Because of the age of the ship and the location, historians cannot but wonder if it in fact could be the legendary ship that carried the Danish king Valdemar Atterdag home after his sacking of Visby on Gotland, in 1361 AD.

"There is a theoretical possibility that it is Atterdag's ship," said Richard Lundgren at exploration firm Ocean Recycling to The Local on Friday.

Wanting to limit the power of the hanseatic trade league in the area, King Valdemar IV of Denmark decided to attack the Baltic island of Gotland. According to legend he hated the Gotlanders and especially the city of Visby, where he had heard that they had made up songs to mock him.

Once in possession of the city of Visby, the Danish king, wanting to humble the burghers, allegedly set up three huge beer barrels saying that if the barrels weren't filled with silver and gold within three days, he would turn his men loose to pillage the town.

But the barrels were filled before nightfall of the first day and after the churches had been stripped of their riches, the loot was loaded on Danish ships and carried home.

However, one ship was lost on the way and although sought by many a shipwreck expert, it has never been found.

After studying the images Bjurström it is almost certain that what the sonar showed is a medieval cog.

The discovered ship was found at a depth of 100 metres in a secret location between the two Baltic isles. The sonar pictures show a small vessel, 28 metres long and seven metres wide.

No cogs have ever been found in the area despite the extent of their use and the perfect conditions of the Baltic Sea for wreck preservation.

The seabed of the Baltic is flat, there is no shipworm, and the oxygen levels in the water are low enough to make it ideal for wrecks to remain intact, according to Barometern.

The paper reports that scientists are planning to send down remotely operated vehicles (ROV’s) with cameras in the next few days. The hope is that the ROV images will provide the scientists with a better view and confirm that it is indeed a cog embedded in the ocean floor.

With better images scientists hope to be closer the answer whether this is the Atterdag ship or not, and if there will be treasure from the sacking of Visby aboard the vessel.

"Of course we are hoping for that. But for me it is enough f they can verify that it is a cog because that would be a world sensation. If it has Valdemar Atterdag's treasure onboard it will be even better," Bjurström said.

This is the second find of a shipwreck in the area in the last few weeks. In the beginning of July a 16th century ship was discovered outside the coast of Gotland.

Divers, looking specifically for the legendary Atterdag ship were excited about the find, although they were fairly sure from the outset that the ship was from a later era than the 14th century.

“We don’t necessarily think that this is the wreck of the ship carrying the three barrels of gold, silver and valuables, taken from the Gotlanders. But in any case it is a very interesting ship, it’s sensational,” Richard Lundgren said to daily Dagens Nyheter at the time.

But this time, the ship is likely to be from the right era, as it has one mast and not two, as a later ship would.

"No one has ever found an intact cog in deep water before. In all probability it is the world's oldest intact wreck that has been discovered. That's what I believe," Bjurström said.

TT/Rebecca Martin (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

11:10 July 15, 2011 by byke
Is it queen Silvia?
12:27 July 15, 2011 by jacquelinee
this is very cool news.
12:38 July 15, 2011 by Nemesis
It is not the worlds oldest shipwreck, intact or not.
13:53 July 15, 2011 by Scott McCoy
You mean they found Noah,s Ark in the baltic,,,LMAO.
15:22 July 15, 2011 by Wireless.Phil
@ Nenesis "oldest wreck "FOUND"!
17:32 July 15, 2011 by Alfred Nevada
What about the recovered Roskilde Viking ships? They're certainly older.

In any event, this is a very interesting find! Congratulations to the scientists!
18:27 July 15, 2011 by coolguy09
You called it oldest, dudes at indian ocean , Red Sea have found the wrecks much before that................
21:24 July 15, 2011 by Nemesis
@ Wireless.Phil

The headline is WRONG, as are you. Also the speculation about the name of the wreck is ridiculous and designed to encourage wreck raiders.

There are signifiantly older wrecks in the Baltic, Irish Sea, lough Neagh, English Channel, Bristol Channel, Roskilde,Bay of Biscay, Yangtse river, Red Sea, Carribean, Mediteranean, China Sea, Indian Ocean, Black Sea, Caspian and Aral Sea.

It is not even the oldest Swedish in origin, ship wreck.

The author of the story does not have a clue what they are talking about.
22:15 July 15, 2011 by Englishted
Hold on they mean it is the oldest wreck of a ship of the "cog " type ,ever found.

Don't get your knickers in a twist ,relax.
22:47 July 15, 2011 by dizzymoe33
This is cool news.
01:10 July 16, 2011 by Nemesis
@ Englishted

It is not the oldest cog ever found.
10:31 July 16, 2011 by huckleberry
We really do have some know it all killjoys around
13:03 July 16, 2011 by Englishted

"No one has ever found an intact cog in deep water before. In all probability it is the world's oldest intact wreck that has been discovered. That's what I believe," Bjurström said.

Sorry I missed out intact is that better.
14:30 July 16, 2011 by J. L. Belmar
The headline is misleading, the lead is misleading, the body is misleading and the ending is misleading. Does that not sound typical of The Local and its "top" collaborators"? Rebecca Martin should go back to school or learn about journalism in "The News Manual" (http://www.thenewsmanual.net/) Some people´s children.
16:44 July 17, 2011 by Tdye
world's oldest intact shipwreck
22:43 July 18, 2011 by HunleyFinder
I guess the authors of this article were ignoring the intact Egyptian sun ship found buried in a vault at the pyramids of Giza.
19:49 August 19, 2011 by munched
Another embarassing product of "writer" Rebecca Martin. Sheesh..
21:19 June 1, 2012 by ksaugustsson
Why can't bales of hay be dropped in the areas where the hungry baby reindeer are? What can a bale of hay cost? Where is your sense of compasion regarding these adorable little animals?
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