800-Year-Old Shipwreck Found Off Swedish Coast. How Did It Sink?

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New Delhi: An 800-year-old shipwreck has been recently found outside of Fjällbacka, a locality on the Swedish west coast. It is the oldest shipwreck ever found in the province of Bohuslän, a Swedish province.

The previously undiscovered wreck is also one of the oldest cogs that has yet to be found in Europe, according to a statement issued by University of Gothenburg in Sweden. Cog was a type of ship which first appeared in the 10th century, and was widely used from around the 12th century onward.

What Did The Shipwreck Look Like?

Staffan von Arvin, a maritime archaeologist at the University of Gothenburg, said the wreck was made from oak, nearly 800 years ago.

The wreck is from the Middle Ages and would have been up to 20 metres long originally, according to the statement.

It was found by the island of Dyngö outside of Fjällbacka, located in the Swedish municipality of Tanum. In order to find more about known wrecks on the seafloor, the University of Gothenburg conducted archaeological diving inspections along the coast of Bohuslän last autumn.

Staffan von Arbin said that the archaeologists collected wood samples to determine the age by dating the tree rings. This method is known as dendrochronology.

During the work, the maritime archaeologists came upon the wreck outside of Fjällbacka. The wreck, which is a cog, has been named “Dyngökoggen”.

The archaeologists found that the bottom planking is flush-laid or carvel, which is a method of boat building in which hull planks are laid edge to edge and fastened to a robust frame. This forms a smooth surface.

The side planks were overlapping or clinker, which is a method of boat-building where the edges of the hull overlap each other.

Staffan von Arvin believes the hull to have been 20 metres long originally. The surviving hull has a length of 10 metres and a width of five metres.

How Did The Ship Sink & Were Pirates Involved? 

The archaeologists analysed the wood samples and found that the ship was built of oaks from north-western Germany. Now, a question arises that how did it end up outside of Fjällbacka.

Staffan von Arbin said that cogs are mentioned often in written sources about the mediaeval Hanseatic League. This was a commercial and defensive confederation of merchant guilds and market towns in central and northern Europe, in the mediaeval era. The archaeologist said that ships of this type were common throughout the Middle Ages in northern Europe.

He argued that the find also points to the importance of Bohuslän as a transit route for international maritime trade during the Middle Ages.

The statement said that the survey of the ship clearly shows indications of an intense fire.

Staffan von Arbin said: “Perhaps the ship was attacked by pirates?”

Quoting the archaeologist, the statement said written sources tell us that Norway’s southern coast, including Bohuslän, had periods with intense pirate activity during the Middle Ages.

A simple accident might also have occurred. One possibility is that a fire might have spread while the ship was docked. Another possibility is that the ship was sunk in battle.

This is because Norway, which Bohuslän was part of, had a turbulent past during the first decades of the 12th century.

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