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Keywords:

  • 17th century;
  • Ships at War project;
  • naval ship;
  • Baltic Sea;
  • Dalarö wreck

Abstract

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Background
  4. The site
  5. Fieldwork
  6. Description of the hull
  7. Upper deck
  8. Forecastle
  9. Quarterdeck and sterncastle
  10. Hold and hold-platforms
  11. Fittings
  12. Rig
  13. What kind of ship is this?
  14. Acknowledgments
  15. References

In 2003 a well-preserved shipwreck was found north of Dalarö in the Stockholm archipelago. In 2007 and 2008 the site was surveyed jointly by archaeologists from the Swedish National Maritime Museum, Södertörn University and the University of Southampton. The surface finds were inventoried and drawings produced of the hull structure, which measures 20 m between the posts. This paper presents the results of recording the hull. The original name of the ship, as well as the precise history of its demise, are unknown, but it appears to have been a small man-of-war, built and probably sunk in the late 17th century. It was possibly built in England, or at least in the English fashion of that time.

This paper presents a 17th-century wreck found in the Stockholm archipelago in 2003 (Fig. 1). Measuring a mere 20 m between the posts, the ship is unusual in that it has a beakhead and several gunports distributed along each side. The wreck is unidentified, but observations and interpretations concerning the original function of the vessel can still be made. The description of the wreck will be summed up with comments on the ship's use and function. The reader may then judge whether the wreck is a small man-of-war, or if other categories of ship should be considered.

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Figure 1. Location map. (Niklas Eriksson)

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Before proceeding, a word of caution: one should not be too definitive about the type and function of the ship found at Edesö, since there is a real possibility that someday a competent historian will identify this ship in the historical record. Perhaps this paper may even stimulate such a person to take on the task. In the meantime, this account is written with the material remains as the point of departure, and from an archaeological perspective.

Background

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Background
  4. The site
  5. Fieldwork
  6. Description of the hull
  7. Upper deck
  8. Forecastle
  9. Quarterdeck and sterncastle
  10. Hold and hold-platforms
  11. Fittings
  12. Rig
  13. What kind of ship is this?
  14. Acknowledgments
  15. References

In 2003, employees of the offshore surveying company Marin mätteknik (MMT) were scanning the sea-bed along the sailing route north of Dalarö, in the Stockholm archipelago. Off Edesön they received an echo that, without a doubt, showed a wreck. MMT gave information about the position of the anomaly to a group of professional divers, who decided to hold their annual barbecue, dive and sauna weekend at the site. The divers soon realized that they were visiting a very old ship that was unusually well preserved. They recovered some artefacts, a bartmann jug, some red-ware ceramics and a ‘shaft and globe’ or ‘onion’ glass bottle, which were brought to the Swedish National Maritime Museum (SMM) in Stockholm. All the finds were typologically dated to the latter half of the 17th century (Eriksson and Höglund, 2012: 325–30). Diving archaeologists soon concluded that the dating of the artefacts was not contradicted by the wreck itself.

All wrecks in Sweden enjoy legal protection if 100 years is estimated to have passed since sinking. It was obvious that this little wreck had passed the bureaucratic limit for legal protection with some margin, but as the wreck was also assumed to be very fragile, the county administration decided to strengthen the protection by prohibiting diving and anchorage at the site. Over two seasons, in 2007 and 2008, the wreck was surveyed by archaeologists from the SMM, Södertörn University and the University of Southampton. The objective of the fieldwork was to an extent curatorial, focusing on creating a management plan for the site as the intention of the SMM is to launch a ‘diving park’ in the Dalarö area (Eriksson, 2012a: 193–4; Eriksson and Höglund, 2012: 325–6). A well-preserved wreck like this also has archaeological potential (see discussion in Eriksson, forthcoming a) and the aim of this paper is to assess and present what the Edesö wreck has provided so far in terms of insights into 17th-century naval architecture.

The site

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Background
  4. The site
  5. Fieldwork
  6. Description of the hull
  7. Upper deck
  8. Forecastle
  9. Quarterdeck and sterncastle
  10. Hold and hold-platforms
  11. Fittings
  12. Rig
  13. What kind of ship is this?
  14. Acknowledgments
  15. References

Dalarö is a municipality in the archipelago, a couple of miles south of Stockholm. Its location along the main sailing route has made Dalarö an important node for seafaring. Even as early as the 17th century, the crown had established a customs house at Dalarö, since most of the ships sailing to or from the capital, or ports further north, passed through this area. Dalarö was thus also a place of great strategic importance, which is underlined by the erection of the great sea fortress Dalarö Skans during the 17th century. Maritime activities have left several traces and remains on the sea-bed of this area. Cultural layers of unknown thickness form the sea-bed in the harbour as well as in the roadstead, and several wrecks have been found in these waters (Cederlund, 1982: 11–42; Kaijser, 1983; Arnshav, 2008: 11–5; Eriksson, 2010; forthcoming b).

Needless to say, the number of attractive sites for diving, in the vicinity of the capital, has made the area very popular among recreational divers, since the 1960s. It was therefore surprising when a previously unknown wreck was found here. Boats filled with scuba divers pass over the Edesö wreck almost every weekend.

The wreck is located more or less on the sailing route north of Dalarö (Fig. 1). The hull rests perpendicular to Edesön Island, with the bow facing away from the shore. The Edesö wreck has also been referred to as the ‘Dalarö wreck’ (Eriksson, 2012a: 193–8, Eriksson and Höglund, 2012: 325–30), but as the wreck is located 4 km north of Dalarö, and several other wrecks are located in Dalarö harbour (Eriksson, forthcoming b), this designation is somewhat misleading. The depth of the site is 28 m at the stern and 31 m at the bow. Edesön is very steep, a factor that shades the site and makes conditions on the wreck quite dark. The visibility varies greatly but is usually 2–5 m.

The hull has a 17° list to starboard, which has caused loose objects to slide over to this side. The remains of the rig are resting on the sea-bed beyond the starboard side. The north-flowing current may have contributed to the list, as well as the spread of objects beyond the starboard side of the wreck. Although the ship is very well preserved, it is exceptionally fragile. The timber is eroded and it is possible to see into and right through the hull at several points.

Fieldwork

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Background
  4. The site
  5. Fieldwork
  6. Description of the hull
  7. Upper deck
  8. Forecastle
  9. Quarterdeck and sterncastle
  10. Hold and hold-platforms
  11. Fittings
  12. Rig
  13. What kind of ship is this?
  14. Acknowledgments
  15. References

In 2007, the first season, fieldwork was carried out over five weeks. An additional three weeks of follow-up fieldwork were carried out in 2008. The survey was undertaken with the goal of having as little impact on the site as possible (Eriksson, 2012a: 193–8; Eriksson and Höglund, 2012: 325–30). No artefacts were raised and conserved, aside from those recovered by the divers who found the wreck. In addition to these, one pistol and one musket stock were raised and documented before being brought back to their original location in the stern. The figurehead, consisting of a carved lion, was also raised for recording. After laser scanning the sculpture was also returned to the sea-bed beneath the bow.

The hull of the Edesö wreck was recorded using the direct survey method (DSM). Some 40 datum point tags, of the same type used on cattle, were nailed to the hull structure. Their positions were measured using established measuring tapes, and the values were processed in Nick Rule's Web for Windows software, originally designed for the Mary Rose project (Adams and Rule, 1991: 145–54; Adams and Rönnby, 1996: 21–8; Marsden, 2003: 48). A scale drawing was made of the deck structure under water using the datum points as support (Fig. 2).

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Figure 2. Plan of the preserved deck structure of the Edesö wreck. The dotted contour is estimated from a minimum of measurements. A: hawse-pieces, B: carrick bitts, C: windlass barrel, D: large hatchway, E: small hatchway, F: pumps, G: cupboard or carpenter's store, H: remains of bulkhead, I: capstan, J: wing transom, K: breasthook, L: Fore yard, M: main yard, N: lower mizzen-mast. (Drawing: Jonathan Adams and Niklas Eriksson)

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The aim of the second season was to add a third dimension to the plan with a starboard elevation and a longitudinal section (Fig. 3), and some profile drawings of the hull (for example Fig. 4). The section and sheer-plan were drawn using the grid provided by the DSM-file. The interior of the hull is accessible at some points, for example where the deck planks are missing or through the hatches; thus it was possible for divers to record interior features without entering the wreck. The longitudinal section drawing was made with the bow pointing to the left as the starboard side is better preserved than the port side, and thus provides the most information about the ship's structure. For the same reason the starboard sheer-plan was drawn with the bow pointing to the right. Ideally, the port side should also be recorded, which may be a project for the future.

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Figure 3. a) Starboard elevation of the Edesö wreck; b) Longitudinal section of the hull. The dotted lines show the estimated contour of the sterncastle and the beakhead. A: gunports, B: loading port, C: scuppers, D: chesstrees for main tacks, E: hawse-holes, F: anchor lining, G: tiller, H: platform-beam, I: remnants of bulkhead, J: breasthook, K: wing transom, L: counter-timber, M: hawse piece, N: carrick bitt, O: capstan, P: pumps. (Drawings: Niklas Eriksson and Jim Hansson/SMM)

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Figure 4. Cross-section of the hull amidships. (Drawing: Niklas Eriksson, Jim Hansson/SMM and Andreas Olsson/SMM)

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The stem and profiles were recorded using a specially designed and constructed measuring stick with a movable sledge fitted with a set-square. This device facilitates taking offset measures of the curvature of the hull with some accuracy. A similar method was used at the Anna Maria site, and also in Dalarö (Petersén, 1987: 293–304; Eriksson, 2010: 8–10). The final plans were hand-drawn at a 1:20 scale.

Description of the hull

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Background
  4. The site
  5. Fieldwork
  6. Description of the hull
  7. Upper deck
  8. Forecastle
  9. Quarterdeck and sterncastle
  10. Hold and hold-platforms
  11. Fittings
  12. Rig
  13. What kind of ship is this?
  14. Acknowledgments
  15. References

The hull measures 20 m between the posts and is nearly 6 m at its widest. The bow is surprisingly sharp. The hull is carvel built. Visual inspection, as well as the samples taken for dendrochronology, revealed that both planking and framing are made of oak (Linderson, 2008). The bottom-planking is not sheathed. Three wales run along, or just above, the waterline. Above these runs an elegantly profiled gunwale. The wales are scarf-joined, while the rest of the planking is butt-joined. At least some of the scarfs in the wales have hooks. As the wood is eroded, it is sometimes difficult to discern the original characteristics of the individual timbers, especially in the murky conditions found at nearly 30 m depth. The strakes of planking are all c. 0.30 m wide, whereas the wales are 0.20–0.22 m wide. The thickness is difficult to measure due to erosion but the thickest wale is 0.09 m.

It has not been possible to determine the framing pattern in any detail, much due to the good state of preservation of the hull. The in situ ceiling planking, as well as the hull being filled with sediments, loose constructional elements and artefacts, make it difficult to access the frames (as indicated in Figs 3b and 4). The planking and frames are connected using wooden trunnels and iron fasteners, but it has not been possible to determine the proportions or distribution of each.

In the bow and stern, where the hull rises above the gunwale to form the sides of the fore- and sterncastle, the planking is clinker laid. These clinker planks are very thin, less than 30 mm and very eroded. Only a few survive in their original position (Fig. 3). They were attached using iron nails which have rusted away long ago, which in part explains their loss. Amidships, the bulwark has been raised with a rail, measuring 0.80 m above deck level, supported by stanchions on each side, which has now fallen off.

The stern is round-tucked with the lowest strakes of planking ending in a rabbet in the sternpost. The strakes higher up the hull end on the curved wing transom. The internal supporting structure of the stern consists of one fashion piece on either side, which stretches from the ends of the wing transom to where the stern-knee meets the keel. Below the wing transom the stern is strengthened with two additional transoms, connected to the sides of the hull with horizontal quarter knees (Goodwin, 1987: 24, fig. 1/24). In the 17th century this fashion was most common in English shipbuilding (Unger, 1978: 60; Landström, 1980: 105; Laughton, 2001: 105–6).

Four, of originally six, counter-timbers are preserved in situ: the two missing counter-timbers are indicated by notches in the wing transom. Above the counter, the ship had a square stern and the remnants of this construction lie scattered on the sea-bed abaft of the wreck.

The upper end of the stem is 0.3 m moulded and 0.22 m sided. It is curved and rakes forward. Hawse-pieces flank the stem, on the inside of the planking, with two hawse-holes on each side 0.45–0.5 m wide. The upper end of the stem is shaped to take the bowsprit that rested on top of it. The sides of the hull are connected with a horizontal breasthook.

The beakhead has disintegrated and its component parts are resting on the sea-bed beneath the bow. The main piece of the beakhead is made out of a single timber; it is preserved intact and has a gammoning hole and two holes for the fore tacks (Anderson, 1994: 160). In the vicinity of the main piece, lie four slightly curved headrails, two for each side, which originally ran from the catheads to the neck of the lion figurehead. Together with the knees and the frames it is possible to piece together the entire beakhead. The contour of the preserved beakhead details are presented on the starboard elevation and section drawing (Fig. 3).The lion figurehead originally clung to the outer end of the main piece with its front paws. On its neck there is a voluted ornament where the headrails were attached (Fig. 5).

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Figure 5. Laser scan of the lion figurehead, which was raised during fieldwork. (SMM)

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There are several openings in the sides of the hull. Under the foredeck, in the small forecastle, there is one gunport on each side (0.35 m wide and 0.32 m high). Both are still preserved in situ. Two ports on each quarter have also been observed, one with the port lid still in place; so the ship had three gunports on each side. Whether the ship was also equipped with stern-chasers is uncertain, but quite likely. No indications of guns in the waist have been found.

In addition to the gunports there is a small port located below deck amidships c.0.30 x 0.37 m. The opening is much smaller than the loading ports in a similar location that were common on contemporary merchant ships; for instance the loading port on the Jutholmen wreck is 0.6 m wide and 0.33 m high (Cederlund, 1982: 74; Eriksson, 2010: 19–20). On the fluit Anna Maria the amidship loading port is 0.70 m wide (Eriksson, forthcoming a). The opening may have served to allow light into the hold.

Upper deck

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Background
  4. The site
  5. Fieldwork
  6. Description of the hull
  7. Upper deck
  8. Forecastle
  9. Quarterdeck and sterncastle
  10. Hold and hold-platforms
  11. Fittings
  12. Rig
  13. What kind of ship is this?
  14. Acknowledgments
  15. References

The upper deck runs from the stern to just in front of the windlass. Foreward of this point, the deck is lower by c.0.4 m, in order to gain height inside the forecastle. Amidships, the deck nearly follows the sheer of the planking, but in the stern, abaft the point where the foremost bulkhead of the cabin is located, there is a break in the deck and it is more horizontally oriented. The deck inside the forecastle runs more or less horizontally.

The wing transom has two square notches that used to house stanchions, forming a support for the missing aftermost deck-beam originally placed above it. The distance left between the wing transom and the aftermost deck-beam formed a helm port.

The upper deck-beams rest on a shelf and a clamp cut into the standing knees. The upper deck is supported by carlings fitted into notches in the deck-beams, and ledges running in between the hull-side and fitted into notches in the carlings. The upper deck has two hatches: a large one amidships 2.58 x 1.55 m, and a smaller one just abaft the mainmast 0.85 x 1.5 m. The coaming of the large hatch is preserved in situ, whereas that of the smaller hatch is only indicated through stains on the deck planks.

Forecastle

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Background
  4. The site
  5. Fieldwork
  6. Description of the hull
  7. Upper deck
  8. Forecastle
  9. Quarterdeck and sterncastle
  10. Hold and hold-platforms
  11. Fittings
  12. Rig
  13. What kind of ship is this?
  14. Acknowledgments
  15. References

The deck that covered the forecastle has disintegrated, and fallen into the hull. However, the knees that supported the deck-beams are preserved and reveal its original height and extent. Bricks have been found in the forecastle and are remnants of the ship's galley. As it has decayed and the remains are covered in sediments and loose parts of the forecastle superstructure, its construction cannot be given in detail. Fragments of a grating have been found lying loose and probably come from the deck which covered the forecastle.

As mentioned above, the forecastle has one gunport on each side. One of the guns was found during fieldwork. It has fallen through the deck and is now resting in the hold, under its original position on the port side. Artillery equipment, such as rammers and scoops, has also been observed in the forecastle.

In addition to the artefacts associated with guns, two wooden disks c.0.2 m in diameter, and pottery have also been found. It cannot be excluded that the forecastle also provided accommodation for part of the ship's crew (Eriksson, forthcoming a). Even though the floor is 0.4 m lower than upper deck, the forecastle does not allow standing height, having a mere 1.3 m between decks. Thus the forecastle is anything but spacious, particularly considering that it contained two guns, the foremast, the galley and an anchor-cable, or at least a messenger cable, that ran from the hawse-holes through the forecastle and on to the windlass. Preserved cable and anchor-buoys have also been recorded in the forecastle.

Some of the top-timbers in the bow rise above the level of the foredeck and provided support for a low rail that would have stood c.0.3 m above the deck. The two foremost top-timbers, situated just abaft of the hawse-pieces, are long enough to have functioned as bitts for belaying lines.

Quarterdeck and sterncastle

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Background
  4. The site
  5. Fieldwork
  6. Description of the hull
  7. Upper deck
  8. Forecastle
  9. Quarterdeck and sterncastle
  10. Hold and hold-platforms
  11. Fittings
  12. Rig
  13. What kind of ship is this?
  14. Acknowledgments
  15. References

The wreck is not that informative as regards the construction of the quarter deck. No knees are preserved in their original positions and its original extent is, for this reason, difficult to assess. The beams originating from the quarterdeck lie scattered on the upper deck and, to a large extent, the sides of the sterncastle have disintegrated. Two top-timbers seem to be preserved in their original length: if these ended at deck level, the original interior height of the sterncastle was about the same as in the forecastle; that is c.1.3 m.

The bulkhead towards the bow is indicated by a timber attached to the upper deck. Standing stanchions, originating from this bulkhead, have been found loose and indicate that it was clinker-built, just like the sides of the fore- and sterncastle. As becomes apparent from the plan (Fig. 2), the sterncastle is quite large compared to the forecastle. No structures indicating that it was further divided into smaller compartments have been found, but the evidence of other contemporary vessels shows that the space under the quarterdeck was divided by bulkheads, including for vessels of this size (Sutherland, 1717: 24–34; Lavery, 1987: 151–85; also Martin, 2012: 183–90), and is likely to be the case here. Numerous artefacts have been observed in the stern. However, their particular contexts are sometimes tricky to discern as they are covered by component parts from the collapsed quarterdeck, pushed towards the port side due to the list, or have fallen into the hold as portions of the deck collapsed. Perhaps the most conspicuous item here is an iron gun, still located in its carriage with its muzzle pointing aft (Figs 3b, 6). It is hard to determine whether this was how the gun was stored when the ship was under sail or if the location is secondary.

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Figure 6. A gun, still in its carriage, located in the stern. (Photo: Jens Lindström/SMM)

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A pistol and musket were found just astern of the gun-carriage, and were brought to the surface for recording (Fig. 7). All metal components have corroded away, but the shape of the locks reveals that both arms were originally equipped with flintlocks. The stock of a wheellock pistol was later found in the same area, but was not brought to the surface for recording. The presence of arms with both wheel- and flintlocks further underlines the dating of the ship's sinking to the mid or second half of the 17th century (Lenk, 1939: 54–61). What might be a sword has been seen near to the gun as well.

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Figure 7. a) Flintlock pistol that was raised, recorded and returned to its original position on the site; b) Flintlock musket that was raised, recorded and returned to its original position on the site. (Drawings: Niklas Eriksson)

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But it is not just weaponry that was stored in the stern cabin. In the corner, between the starboard quarter and the wing transom, is a row of bartmann jugs (Fig. 8). Beside these, two ‘shaft and globe’ glass bottles have been found in the sterncastle. Other bottles and additional bartmann jars found in the hold may have fallen from the aftercastle.

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Figure 8. Bartmann jugs in the stern. (Photo: Andreas Olsson/SMM)

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On deck, before the bulkhead which separates the stern cabin, there is a cupboard, or cubbyhole. The walls have disintegrated revealing the interior. Various tools have been found in this location, such as a plane, shafts for an awl, hammers and similar equipment. In order to sharpen the tools the carpenter had only to walk across the deck, as a grinding stone was attached along the starboard side. A shoe was also found among the tools in the cupboard. Did the ship's carpenter keep his personal items in here as well? A similar location for the carpenter's cabin can be seen in contemporary drawings (Lavery, 1981: 124–5).

Hold and hold-platforms

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Background
  4. The site
  5. Fieldwork
  6. Description of the hull
  7. Upper deck
  8. Forecastle
  9. Quarterdeck and sterncastle
  10. Hold and hold-platforms
  11. Fittings
  12. Rig
  13. What kind of ship is this?
  14. Acknowledgments
  15. References

In the hold there are rows of beams, three in the bow and three in the stern. These are the remnants of platforms in the bow and stern only, rather than a full deck. Amidships, below the large hatch in the upper deck, there is no platform. The planking of these platforms is not preserved and it seems likely that it was made out of species of softwood, such as pine or spruce.

The presence of carlings between these beams in the stern may indicate hatchways through this platform, providing access to the hold. A bulkhead, athwartships, from the platform into the hold, is joined to the aftermost platform-beam in the stern.

In the stern, the decks have disintegrated, which now allows access to the hold where many loose artefacts are scattered. It is not always possible to determine whether they were stowed in these lower compartments on the ship's last voyage, or if they fell from the upper deck as the ship started to disintegrate. These items are located under the eroded deck, where the cast-iron cannon also stands. Diving below deck is hazardous for both wreck and diver, which means that the artefacts in the hold have not been properly recorded. Among the items there are more bartmann jars, together with glass bottles and other pottery.

Several elements of rigging have been observed in the stern. Aside from blocks, a large mast-cap has been found. These elements may have fallen from the rig, or they could be spare parts. Three mast-cap have been found on the sea-bed outside the hull, in the vicinity of the spars and yards that they used to be connected to. The caps are all of what is referred to as the ‘Continental’ type, with a rounded upper side (Anderson, 1994: 24).

At first sight, the hull appears to be filled with sediments amidships, but by carefully probing into the silt, where there are no hold-platforms, it was found that the hold appears to be at least partly filled with bartmann jars, of unknown content.

Fittings

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Background
  4. The site
  5. Fieldwork
  6. Description of the hull
  7. Upper deck
  8. Forecastle
  9. Quarterdeck and sterncastle
  10. Hold and hold-platforms
  11. Fittings
  12. Rig
  13. What kind of ship is this?
  14. Acknowledgments
  15. References

Amidships, the ship has four scuppers on each side of the bulwark, evacuating water from the upper deck. The forecastle deck, at a lower level, has one scupper on each side to evacuate water that has entered from the hawse-holes or from above. The ship has two bilge pumps, which were normally situated just abaft of the mainmast. These consist of drilled-through tree trunks. Brackets for the pump-levers were made out of the same piece as the pump-barrels. The pump on the starboard side is in its original position, while the port-side pump was found in the smaller hatchway abaft of the mainmast. That the port-side pump was originally placed in a similar location to that on the starboard side is clearly marked by a cut-away in the deck-beam. The unusual location of the port-side pump most likely has to do with events as the ship sank. Filth that got stuck and jammed the pumps could only be removed through pulling the pump-barrel all the way up on deck (Oertling, 1996: 5–6, 30). In a critical situation (such as when a ship is sinking), there may have been no time to put the pump into its proper place; as long as the muzzle of the pump-barrel reached the water it will have sufficed. The location of the port-side pump thus offers a snapshot of the course of events as the ship went down: perhaps the crew had seen the water-level rising beneath the small hatch before placing the pump into that opening.

Capstan, windlass and anchors

Abaft of the mainmast, the ship's capstan is preserved intact, with the whelps and chocks still attached to the barrel (Fig. 9). It is a crab-type capstan with two holes for bars. The type is shown in Anthony Deane's Doctrine of Naval Architecture as late as 1670, whereas the First Rate Britannia, completed in 1682, is shown in contemporary prints as carrying the later, drumhead type (Lavery, 1987: 37). The drumhead type was invented around 1675 (Lavery, 1992: 140). The capstan may thus be used as an indication of the date of the vessel's construction. On the Edesö wreck the capstan is not located along the centre line of the hull, but slightly to starboard. It is fitted into partners in the deck and on the platform below. Two pawls are still attached to the deck abaft of the capstan.

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Figure 9. The capstan still in place on deck. Note the tumblehome of the hull-side, revealed by the top-timbers. (Photo: Jens Lindström/SMM)

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The ship also has a windlass, originally situated just aft of the forecastle. The carrick bitts were attached to the deck-beams of the platform and upper decks and would also have served as the supporting structure for the forecastle bulkhead. These have come loose but are found in the vicinity of their original position; as are the cheeks, which held the windlass barrel in place towards the carrick bitts. The windlass barrel is spindle-shaped and was found lying loose. Its pawl is cut directly out of the wood, but its contact surfaces are reinforced with metal sheathing. The ends of the barrel are strengthened by bronze rims.

The catheads, which were bolted on to the forecastle, fell down as the deck structure disintegrated. The starboard cathead is resting against the hull, just below its original position. Below the catheads the hull is protected from the anchors by the anchor lining, an extra layer of planking (Fig. 3). Three anchors have been found, two on the starboard side and one on the port side. The anchors fell from their original positions and were hanging in the bow as the ship sank.

The rudder is preserved in its original location and has a pronounced trim to port. It is built in two parts, and its upper end is shaped after the counter. The tiller is preserved in its original length and runs below the deck. Steering was provided by a whipstaff. The whipstaff is not preserved, but the whipstaff rowle has been observed loose in the stern of the ship. It was originally housed in a massive oak plank in the centre of the ship (Harland, 2011: 97–102).

Rig

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Background
  4. The site
  5. Fieldwork
  6. Description of the hull
  7. Upper deck
  8. Forecastle
  9. Quarterdeck and sterncastle
  10. Hold and hold-platforms
  11. Fittings
  12. Rig
  13. What kind of ship is this?
  14. Acknowledgments
  15. References

The wreck was rigged as a ship, with three masts, of which the fore- and main-masts carried square sails. The lower main- and foremasts are still standing and preserved in their original length (Fig. 10). The foremast is slightly tilted aft, which is probably not its original position. The knees that supported the foredeck reveal the original position of the foredeck-beams. With the present position of the foremast, these deck-beams would not have had free passage between the knees. Judging from 17th-century depictions, the foremast is most often straight or raked towards the bow (Anderson, 1994: 13). As with all wood on the wreck, the masts are eroded: whereas the diameters of the masts have decreased to a diameter of c.0.36 m for the mainmast and c.0.26 m for the foremast at deck level, the openings in the mast-partners have increased. The mast-partners for the mainmast are 0.46 m in diameter whereas the fore-mast-partners are not accessible for measuring. As a result, both fore- and main-lower masts are leaning quite heavily to starboard. Thus the list of the masts is greater than the rest of the hull.

figure

Figure 10. Starboard elevation showing the surviving masts in situ. (Drawing: Niklas Eriksson and Jim Hansson/SMM)

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The mizzen-mast has heeled over to starboard. As is common on 17th-century vessels, the mizzen-mast was stepped in the deck whereas the main- and foremasts are stepped in a keelson. The mizzen-mast-step has been observed loose in the hold. A cut-away in a preserved deck-plank indicates its probable original position in between the two gunports of the sterncastle. The location seems reasonable as it allows the guns to recoil without interfering with the mast while firing.

Due to the list of the hull, the component parts of the rig have fallen to the sea-bed to starboard side as it disintegrated. The rigging parts have not been surveyed in detail. The main- as well as the foreyards have both fallen down and come to rest below their original positions, as have the topmasts. Of the three mast-caps mentioned above, one is still attached to the fore-topmast. Among the more notable details of the rig is the top, round in shape, which is preserved in one piece, on the sea-bed, covered by a thin layer of silt.

What kind of ship is this?

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Background
  4. The site
  5. Fieldwork
  6. Description of the hull
  7. Upper deck
  8. Forecastle
  9. Quarterdeck and sterncastle
  10. Hold and hold-platforms
  11. Fittings
  12. Rig
  13. What kind of ship is this?
  14. Acknowledgments
  15. References

Having described the appearance of the vessel, including its internal arrangement, the question arises: what kind of ship is it? Perhaps a more useful and relevant way to formulate such a question is: what purpose would a ship like this have fulfilled?

The hull is wide amidships and the hold has a not insignificant volume, which could be loaded with cargo. Access to the hold is through the quite large main hatch, before the mainmast, measuring 2.58 x 1.55 m. The two small openings, c.0.3 x 0.37 m, in the hull sides are rather small to have served as loading ports. The hull has no openings in either the bow or stern that would have facilitated the loading of long objects, which are common in contemporary merchant ships (for instance Eriksson, 2012b: 17–25, or Eriksson and Rönnby, 2012a: 350–61).

What about the decoration and appearance of the ship? Both merchant and warships were decorated with sculptures in the 17th century and therefore cannot be used as an indication of either function. However, the presence of a beakhead on a ship of this diminutive scale, I take as a strong indication that this is a vessel whose primary purpose was not carrying heavy loads. As for armament, the Swedish government reduced taxes for merchant vessels that carried 14 guns or more in 1645, which encouraged merchant skippers to invest in large ships that could be armed and requisitioned if necessary (Glete, 2010: 440). The wreck has three ports on each side. Perhaps the ship had two additional stern-chasers, which would increase the total number of guns to eight. It might be that the ship had some additional guns but, as there is no evidence for guns in the waist, it is unlikely there were as many as 14. The number of guns on board the Edesö wreck was too few guns to achieve tax reduction. Still, it was common that merchant ships carried no guns at all and relied on travelling in convoys protected by smaller naval vessels, sloops, pinnaces or frigates (Unger, 1978: 38). I think the Edesö wreck would have been very suitable for such a task, and that the wreck could be an example of the smallest rigged naval vessels, the small cruisers (Gardiner, 1992: 46–62; Auer, 2008: 49–71, 267–78).

Where might such a ship have been built? From the outset dives at the site noted that the wreck had a characteristic round-tucked stern. In the 17th century, this way of constructing the stern is most commonly associated with English shipbuilding, as the contemporary Dutch ships of war usually were square tucked. Later, in the 18th century, the round-tucked lower hull is found on Dutch ships as well. However, there are other ways in which this wreck differs from contemporary Dutch vessels; most notable is perhaps the hull shape. A suggested parallel to this hull shape is seen in the stubby English sloops of war of the late 17th century (Gardiner, 1992: 47). Seen from above, the ship has quite a sharp bow and the greatest width of the hull is relatively far abaft. The lowest part of the hull is not accessible for recording, but the quite notable list (17°), suggests that the bottom of the hull is not as flat as the Dutch designs commonly were during the 17th century (Cederlund, 1982: 30–2). The hull is 20 m between the posts and 5.8 m in the beam which makes it proportionally wide in relation to its length, giving a length:beam ratio of 3.45:1 (Hoving, 2012: 260).

The location of the ship's galley, in the forecastle, differs from the general layout of Swedish naval vessels from the period. According to preserved 17th-century correspondence, the location of the galley in the different navies of Europe was discussed within the Swedish admiralty (Jakobsson, 1999: 36). The topic was the subject of intense debate within the English Royal Navy, too (Lavery, 1987: 195). Several fluits wrecked and archaeologically surveyed in the Baltic Sea, have the galley in the stern (Cederlund, 1982: 51; Rönnby and Adams, 1994: 90–101; Eriksson, 2010: 22–5; 2012b: 21–2; forthcoming a and b; Eriksson and Rönnby, 2012a: 356). On large Swedish warships of the 17th century, the hearth is commonly located in the hold, as on Vasa (1628) (Cederlund, 2006: 370–5) or Svärdet (1676) (Eriksson and Rönnby, 2012b: 4–7). An alternative location is under the quarterdeck as on the mid 17th-century pinnace Resande mannen (Eriksson et al., 2013: 17–21). The wreck at Duart Point, Scotland, believed to be Cromwell's Swan wrecked in 1653, has many similarities with the Edesö wreck, when it comes to size and armament. It also has the galley in the bow (Martin, 2012: 188), as do several other English smaller and larger vessels from the late 17th century (Goodwin, 1987: 160; Lavery, 1987: 195–201).

In the earlier part of the 17th century the Swedish navy consisted of ships built by Dutch master-shipbuilders. From 1659, English master-shipbuilders were recruited and built ships in an English manner for the Swedish navy (Börjeson, 1942; Jakobsson, 1999; 2000; Glete, 2010: 418–48). The different styles and methods were thus practised in parallel at Swedish shipyards at the time, and therefore do not provide a satisfactory argument that this is not a Swedish ship. However, there are other aspects that push the ship's provenance away from Sweden and the Baltic. Ten wood-samples were taken from the site and were analysed by The Swedish National Laboratory for Wood Anatomy and Dendrochronology at the University of Lund. It was only possible to match one of the samples. The sample (55513; 90 recorded rings) was dated to after 1613 by the last dated ring. As the sample was taken from a deck-plank, the outermost rings with the sapwood had been removed during the ship's construction; therefore, this date provides only a terminus post quem. The provenance of the sample was more telling and showed that the wood came from north-east England, possibly Northumberland (Linderson, 2008). Taken together, the dendro sample and the ship design point towards England as the most likely place for the ship to have been built. However, skilled archival research may yet prove or disprove this suggestion, if the identity of the ship can be found.

Despite the fact that the wreck remains unidentified, it is reasonable to argue that it resembles a small, purpose-built warship that was most likely wrecked in the middle or latter half of the 17th century. The Edesö wreck is just one of several shipwrecks included in a recently launched inter-disciplinary research project at Södertörn University, entitled ‘Ships at War’ (Rönnby and Eriksson, forthcoming).

Acknowledgments

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Background
  4. The site
  5. Fieldwork
  6. Description of the hull
  7. Upper deck
  8. Forecastle
  9. Quarterdeck and sterncastle
  10. Hold and hold-platforms
  11. Fittings
  12. Rig
  13. What kind of ship is this?
  14. Acknowledgments
  15. References

The survey of the Edesö wreck has been a collaborative project involving the National Maritime Museum in Stockholm, the University of Southampton and Södertörn University. Many people have contributed to it, and in particular the author acknowledges: Jon Adams, Mikael Fredholm, Jim Hansson, Marcus Hjulhammar, Fred Hocker, Patrik Höglund, Odd Johansen, Jens Lindström, Andréas Olsson, Charles Puchkin and Johan Rönnby. The crew of the vintage minesweeper M20, which acted as the diving platform during the second season of fieldwork, likewise. The author also would like to thank the anonymous peer reviewers, as well as the IJNA editor, for important suggestions and corrections that have improved the final version of this article.

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  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Background
  4. The site
  5. Fieldwork
  6. Description of the hull
  7. Upper deck
  8. Forecastle
  9. Quarterdeck and sterncastle
  10. Hold and hold-platforms
  11. Fittings
  12. Rig
  13. What kind of ship is this?
  14. Acknowledgments
  15. References
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