Spectacular finds made on Gribshunden

This season’s excavation of the Gribshunden, the the flagship of King Hans of Denmark which caught fire and sank while anchored off the coast of Ronneby in southeastern Sweden in 1495, has recovered some spectacular finds. An international team of researchers has been exploring the ship and recovering artifacts from it for three weeks.

It is the oldest warship ever found in Nordic waters and as one of the best-preserved ships from the late 15th century, it can provide important information about the design of some its famous contemporaries like the carracks of Christopher Columbus and Vasco da Gama.

“We have managed to identify several new keys to the ship’s construction and we are getting closer to solving the riddle of how these kinds of ships were actually built. It increases our knowledge of an important period of transition in the world, the time of the great explorers,” says Johan Rönnby, professor in marine archaeology at Södertörn University.

The ship was said to be carrying King John’s “fatabur,” a sort of portable treasury that held his most expensive clothes and possessions. Some of the objects recovered from the wreck this summer could qualify as part of the king’s best gear: a coat of mail with a maker’s mark on one ring, a pewter plate and a elegant drinking tankard with a crown-like engraving.

Other artifacts that have been found on board are one of the oldest handguns ever found on a ship, coins, sturgeon bones and barrels, including of Danish beer from 1495.

The objects have yet to be analyzed, and more details are expected to emerge from the analysis, that will include both DNA technology and 3-D visualization. And the researchers believe there is more to be found:

“We hope to be able to return for more investigations next year—there are so many secrets down there,” concludes Brendan Foley.