In the Baltic Sea research into the wreck of the

In the Baltic Sea, research into the wreck of the Gribshunden has caused Swedish scientists to capsize

By Simon Cherner

Posted 12 hours ago, updated 5 hours ago

The wreck of the Gribshunden, off the coast of Sweden, was first excavated in 2001. Some underwater prospecting campaigns have since continued. Brett Seymour/Blekinnge Museum

ARCHEOLOGY – Research on the former flagship of Denmark, sunk in 1495, continues. The recent excavation campaign has unearthed gun carriages from this ship, known for its pioneering armament.

The idea may have long crossed King Hans of Denmark’s (1481–1513) mind. Like one of Caligula’s whims, the Gribshunden, once the flagship of the Danish fleet, was regarded by royal shipowners as a floating palace. Discovered fifty years ago at the tip of the Scandinavian Peninsula, the shipwreck delights underwater archeology year after year.

The last prospecting campaign from the end of August to the beginning of September brought to light new remains of this ship from the late Middle Ages. Swedish researchers from the Blekinge Museum and the University of Lund have freed four gun carriages, firearms and elements of the quarterdeck, bar and rudder from the icy and brackish clutches of the Baltic Sea. The inhospitable conditions of the sea protected the wooden remains of the ship for several centuries and were collected piece by piece by scientists.

“We now have a good understanding of the dimensions and actual layout of the ships from the Great Discoveries era,” Brendan Foley, the scientific director of the Gribshunden excavation, said in a press release. Even better, we’re beginning to glimpse how this ship functioned as King Hans’ floating castle.

SEE ALSO – A mysterious 1300-year-old medieval shipwreck unearthed near Bordeaux

Archeology of the Deep

Once brought to the surface, the different parts of the ship are meticulously scanned by the Swedish researchers to refine the digital reconstruction of the ship, especially at the stern level. The first investigations carried out in the various rooms of the castle – the raised part at the back of a nave – underline the narrowness of these royal premises.

According to archaeologists from the University of Lund, the rigid social hierarchy of the mainland on board should be relaxed, since the apartments of the king and his noble entourage immediately adjoined those of the gunners and helmsmen. Her crew consisted of about 150 men. One of the best preserved and documented shipwrecks of the 15th century, the Gribshunden belonged to the first generation of European warships to be armed with naval artillery pieces, according to the Blekinge Museum. He could have deployed up to 90 of them, ruffling his 100-foot torso.

Built between 1483 and 1486, the Gribshunden transported Hans of Denmark across the Baltic Sea several times. However, this royal ship did not last long. She sank off the Swedish coast in 1495 under hardly explained circumstances, laden with diplomatic gifts intended for the Swedish royal court. The Danish wreck now offers archaeological gifts every year to Swedish scholars, who certainly don’t sail by sight.