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  • 2015-07-14

    MARIS surveys 15th century wreck, contemporary of Columbus’ Santa Maria

    The unique Gribshunden wreck shows us what 15th century ships looked like

    Professor Jon Adams ritande under vatten vid ”monsterhunden” som ligger upp och ned.

    Professor Jon Adams teckning av "hundmonstret" som han ritade under vattnet.

    Bild från undersökningarnaMARIS, the maritime archaeological research institute at Södertörn University, has just completed a survey of the Gribshunden wreck outside Karlskrona.

    “As a preserved construction, the ship is absolutely unique. It is an archaeological example of the first generation of large carvel-built sailing ships and is the same age as Columbus’ Santa Maria, but bigger. This gives us a chance, for the first time, of knowing what this type of 15th century ship looked like,” says Johan Rönnby, Professor of Marine Archaeology at Södertörn University and director of MARIS.

    Professor Jon Adams, a world-leading marine archaeologist, participated in the dives. He told SvD, one of Sweden’s biggest broadsheets, that “This is one of the most important wrecks in the world.”

    Monster hound – a sensational find

    Parts of the hull and onboard equipment were documented during the week prior to Midsummer. There was a sensational find on the final day, a sculpture of a large, grimacing, “monster hound”. The head was placed furthest out on the ship’s prow, and certainly frightened enemies as the ship sailed towards them.

    The Danish king’s ship sank en route to a meeting with Sten Sture the Elder

    Historical sources describe how King John (kung Hans in Swedish) journeyed to a national council in Kalmar in 1495. He wanted to negotiate to reunite the Nordic kingdoms as one union. His opposite party was the tough and power-hungry Sten Sture the Elder. One of the vessels that sailed for Kalmar was “Gribshunden”, the king’s flagship. While anchored at Ekön, outside Ronneby, fire broke out onboard and the ship sank, taking with it canons, weapons and the king’s personal property, among other things.

    Significant media interest

    There has been great interest, both in Sweden and internationally, regarding the dives being made in Blekinge, Sweden, and in the sensational finds that have been made.

    More information in English: Combat Archaeology

    More photos and film from the survey can be seen here (links to Swedish sources):

    SVT Nyheter Blekinge

    TV4 Nyhetsmorgon

    Dagens Nyheter

    Svenska Dagbladet

    The survey is a cooperation between Blekinge county museum, Kalmar county museum and the company Marin Mätteknik AB. Additional surveys of both the ship and the figurehead are planned.