Swedish Achaeologists have recently found an unusually well preserved wreck of a Medieval ship from the period of 1350 to 1500. The wreck lies at an undisclosed location in the Baltic Sea near the coast of Gotland and at a depth of 50 m. To judge by the released video of the shipwreck the preservation is really impressive. It presents itself with intact hull, ribs, mast and anchor.
There is no doubt that in the eyes of the archaeologists the ship itself is the main event. We do have some remnants of Medieval ships, amongst them the famous cog from Bremen, which has been reconstructed with the help of pictures from that time. However the newfound wreck presents a probably unique opportunity to analyse details about the construction hitherto unknown e.g. about the deckhouse; also the rigging may hopefully be reconstructed since the mast is preserved, thus answering any number of difficult questions about sails and the spread of canvass.
The gold of King Valdemar
Not long after the find was published, the rumours started circulating that the ship may have been part of the fleet of cogs, which were to carry the treasure of Visby back to Denmark in 1361. At this time the Danish King, Valdemar Atterdag, was in the middle of a war designed to reconquer the lost territories of Scania, Blekinge and Halland. In the summer of 1361 he invaded the Islands of Øland and Gotland with a professional army of approximately 2000 mercenaries. In a brutal and bloody battle outside the walls of Visby he destroyed an army consisting of ill equipped local farmers. More than a 1000 of those were afterwards buried in mass graves nearby, while the city of Visby lowered their gates to the King and his retinue. Legend has it that he placed three barrels on a dais in front of the cathedral and ordered the citizens to fill them up with gold. Later one of the ships carrying this ransom shipwrecked. For a long time people have tried to find this treasure.
Eric of Pommern
According to the archaeologists in charge of the shipwreck there are however things about the ship which suggest that it dates from the period post 1400. Which immediately started the public speculating about a connection to another Danish King, Eric of Pommern. As his greatgrandfather Valdemar Atterdag, he was heavily involved in sucessive wars with the Sweedes but lacked his military success. In 1437 he was severeky curtailed by the Danish magnates and withdrew to the island of Gotland, from where he established himself as a succesful pirate. As the ship presents itself with a peculiar hole in the after, some are speculating that it wrecked due to a canonball. Another theory is that it was his personal royal ship, The Rosary, which capsized in 1436.
Yet another wreck
Finally the archeologists could tell that they recently found yet another very wellpreserved wreck approximately one nautical mile from the first. And this time without a doubt a so called cog. Of the second ship not much is as yet known except that it measures 28 x 7 m as far as may be ascertained from the sonar.
So far not much is known about this wreck and the jury is still out. Maybe, mayby, however, it is the treasure-ship, which belonged to Valdemar Atterdag.
Well, time will show…