Category Archives: SWEDEN

8-Year-Old Boy Finds Unusual Viking Age Artifact On Gotland Island, Sweden

8-Year-Old Boy Finds Unusual Viking Age Artifact On Gotland Island, Sweden

Anyone, regardless of age, place, and nation, can always find something of archaeological value. You have to keep your eyes open; before you know it, you are looking at something hundreds or thousands of years old on the ground. Finding an ancient treasure or an artifact is a remarkable and unforgettable experience.

8-Year-Old Boy Finds Unusual Viking Age Artifact On Gotland Island, Sweden
This is a Viking Age Bronze buckle young Bruno found on the beach.

An eight-year-old boy has made a remarkable discovery. While on vacation in Sweden with his family, Bruno Tillema was walking along a beach on Gotland Island. The youngster who had just been given a book about fossils was scanning the ground to see if he could see any, but fate wanted him to find something else instead.

Suddenly, Bruno noticed an object that had a dark brown color and triangular shape. It looked intricately carved and piqued his interest. Bruno picked up the object and kept walking until his mother asked him what he was holding in his hand.

“Walking the path, I just picked it up off the ground and thought, what is this? Maybe some weird part from a house? I went looking for fossils. Then mother came and asked what I had in my hand. So, I said, some strange metal thing,” Bruno said.

It turned out that this little “strange metal thing” was a genuine Viking Age artifact. Archaeologists have examined the object Bruno found, and scientists say it is a Bronze buckle dating back to A.D. 800 to 1100. The dress buckle is carved into the shape of an animal’s head and is intricately decorated.

Upon learning about this discovery, experts from Gotland’s museum conducted an archaeological investigation at the find site to find out if more objects were nearby. During the investigation, another suit buckle was found, this time a so-called ring buckle.

The family contacted the county administration, who quickly went out and looked at the find site.

“The family handled the find in an exemplary manner. They contacted us immediately so that we could quickly do an initial check on the spot,” says Therese Lindström, cultural environment manager at the County Administrative Board in Gotland County.

Bruno is proud of his discovery, as he should be.

According to Lindström, both buckles are made of bronze and belong to costumes from the late Iron Age or early Viking Age. Buckles designed as animal heads are usually associated with Gotland women’s graves, while ring buckles are found in both men’s and women’s graves, says Therese Lindström.

The grave itself has probably been disrupted on an earlier occasion. It is not uncommon for objects from damaged graves to resurface in connection with plowing the land.

Archaeologists found another buckle ( right image) when they examined the site. Andreas Tillema och Gotlands museum.

Both buckles are to be sent for preservation, and their ultimate fate will be determined by the National Antiquities Authority in Sweden, the County Administrative Board in Gotland County informed in a press release.

Bruno is proud of his discovery, and with good reason! The boy is happy he can tell people what he has found and is now even thinking of becoming an archaeologist when he grows up.

“I’m happy I can tell everyone what I found. It feels as if I have made something big and can now finally share it with all,” Bruno says.

Time will tell whether Bruno will one day become an archaeologist, but we do wish him luck and hope he will make many more exciting finds he can share with everyone across the globe.

DNA Reveals – One Of Sunken Warship Vasa’s Crewmen Was A Woman

DNA Reveals – One Of Sunken Warship Vasa’s Crewmen Was A Woman

When the human remains found on board the Swedish warship Vasa were investigated, it was initially determined that the skeleton designated “G” was a man. New research now shows that the skeleton is actually from a woman.

About thirty people died when Vasa sank on its maiden voyage in 1628. We cannot know who most of them were; only one person is named in the written sources.

When the ship was raised in 1961, it was the scene of a comprehensive archaeological excavation in which numerous human bones were found on board and examined.

DNA Reveals – One Of Sunken Warship Vasa’s Crewmen Was A Woman
Vasa warship.

“Through osteological analysis it has been possible to discover a great deal about these people, such as their age, height and medical history. Osteologists recently suspected that G could be female, on the basis of the pelvis. DNA analysis can reveal even more,” says Dr. Fred Hocker, director of research at the Vasa Museum, in Stockholm, Sweden.

Since 2004 the Vasa Museum has collaborated with the Department of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology at Uppsala University in Sweden to investigate all of the remains from Vasa and find out as much as possible about each individual.

Initially the project had focused on confirming whether certain bones belonged to specific people. Marie Allen, professor of forensic genetics, has led the work.

“For us, it is both interesting and challenging to study the skeletons from Vasa. It is very difficult to extract DNA from bone which has been on the bottom of the sea for 333 years, but not impossible,” says Allen. She continues, “Already some years ago we had indications that skeleton G was not a man but a woman. Simply put, we found no Y chromosomes in G’s genetic material. But we could not be certain and wanted to confirm the result.”

DNA research at the Vasa Museum. Professor Marie Allen, Uppsala University and Conservator Malin Sahlstedt, the Vasa Museum. Credit: Anna Maria Forssberg, Vasamuseet/SMTM.

The result has now been confirmed, thanks to an interlaboratory study with Dr. Kimberly Andreaggi of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System’s Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFMES-AFDIL) in Delaware, U.S.. The AFMES-AFDIL is the American Department of Defense’s laboratory, specializing in human remains DNA testing from deceased military personnel. This organization has established a new testing method for the analysis of many different genetic variants.

“We took new samples from bones for which we had specific questions. AFMES-AFDIL has now analyzed the samples, and we have been able to confirm that G was a woman, thanks to the new test,” says Allen.

For Allen and Andreaggi, the analysis of the Vasa skeletons is a way to develop their forensic methods, which can then be used to analyze DNA in criminal investigations or to identify fallen soldiers.

For the Vasa Museum, the results of the DNA analysis are an important puzzle piece in the museum’s research into the people on the ship.

Dr. Anna Maria Forssberg, historian and researcher at the museum, explains, “We want to come as close to these people as we can. We have known that there were women on board Vasa when it sank, and now we have received confirmation that they are among the remains. I am currently researching the wives of seamen, so for me this is especially exciting, since they are often forgotten even though they played an important role for the navy.”

More results are expected shortly from the new samples. Allen and Andreaggi will be able to say something about how individuals looked, what color their hair and eyes were, and possibly where their families came from.

“Today we can extract much more information from historic DNA than we could earlier and methods are being continuously refined. We can say if a person was predisposed to certain illnesses, or even very small details, such as if they had freckles and wet or dry ear wax,” says Allen in a press statement.

The Vasa Museum’s researchers are currently studying the skeletons from several perspectives, including the personal possessions found with them. Eventually the results will be presented in an exhibition at the museum and a book about the people who died on board Vasa.

A medieval victim still in his chainmail discovered in Sweden

A medieval victim still in his chainmail discovered in Sweden

A medieval victim still in his chainmail discovered in Sweden

The Battle of Visby was a violent Medieval battle near the town of Visby on the Swedish island of Gotland, fought between the inhabitants of Gotland and the Danes, with the latter emerging victorious.

The battle left a lasting archaeological legacy; masses of slaughtered soldiers and citizens lay scattered across what was once a bloody battlefield.

Slashed and broken bones, skeletons still in their chain mail and armour, and smashed skulls, some still with spears and knives protruding out of them. One can only imagine what they endured before they breathed their last breaths.

Visby, A Merchant’s Dream

During the Middle Ages, the island of Gotland, which lies off the coast of Sweden in the Baltic Sea, played an important role in the trade between Europe and Russia. As a result of this, the city of Visby flourished.

Since the late 13th century, Visby was a member of a confederation of North-western and Central European merchant towns later known as the Hanseatic League. This league protected the commercial interests of its members and was also a defensive pact.

Greedy King Sets His Sight on Visby

As the Hanseatic League grew in influence, it was seen as a threat by some rulers. One of these was Valdemar IV, the King of Denmark. The Danish ruler is said to have not been satisfied with the fact that the Hanseatic League was a rival to his kingdom’s trade interests.

In addition, Valdemar desired to get his hands on the wealth of the League’s towns. By the middle of the 14th century, Visby, although still a member of the Hanseatic League, is said to have decreased in importance, causing Valdemar to set his eyes on it.

Additionally, it is rumoured that the inhabitants of the town sang drinking songs mocking the king, thus causing him to hold a personal vendetta against them.

Valdemar Atterdag holding Visby to ransom, 1361 by Karl Gustaf Hellqvist

The Danes Invade

In the summer of 1361, a Danish army set sail for Gotland. The inhabitants of Visby had been warned about the invading Danish force and prepared themselves for the battle. In late July 1361, Valdermar’s army landed on the west coast of Gotland.

The Danish army numbered between 2000 and 2500 men and consisted mainly of experienced Danish and German mercenaries. The defending Gotlanders, on the other hand, numbered around 2000 and were militiamen with little or no experience of battle.   

The Battle of Visby  

The Gotlanders first tried to halt the advance of the Danish army at Mästerby, in the central part of the island. The defenders were crushed, and the Danes continued their march towards Visby. The Battle of Visby was fought before the walls of the town.

Although the militiamen were fighting for their lives and fought as best as they could, they were simply no match for the professional Danish army. As a result, the majority of the defenders were killed, and the town surrendered to Valdemar.

Mass Graves and Fallen Soldiers

Those who fell during the battle were buried in several mass graves and were left in peace until the 20 th century. Between 1905 and 1928, the mass graves were discovered and subsequently excavated.

More than 1100 human remains were unearthed, and these provide us with much detail about the battle. As an example, the types of weapons used during the Battle of Visby could be determined based on the injuries left on these remains.

About 450 of these wounds, for instance, were inflicted by cutting weapons, such as swords and axes, whilst wounds inflicted by piercing weapons, such as spears, and arrows, numbered around 120.

By studying the bones, it was also found that at least a third of the defenders of Visby were the elderly, children, or the crippled, an indication that the situation was very dire indeed for townsfolk.

Victim of invasion of Visby in 1361.
Victim of invasion of Visby in 1361.

It is assumed that the dead were buried quickly after the battle, and therefore were interred with the equipment they had during the battle, which included their armour and weapons.

Thanks to their excellent state of preservation, these remains are a unique archaeological find. Although not many of the defenders were well-equipped for the battle, there are several examples of chainmail shirts, coifs, gauntlets, and a variety of weapons.

These incredible remains, along with the human remains, are today displayed in the Gotland Museum and remain as a lasting legacy to the defenders of Visby.

Armored glove found at Visby.

The largest hoard of Viking silver was found accidentally while filming a news report about illegal treasure hunting

The largest hoard of Viking silver was found accidentally while filming a news report about illegal treasure hunting

The largest hoard of Viking silver was found accidentally while filming a news report about illegal treasure hunting

The Spillings Hoard  is the world’s largest Viking silver treasure, found on Friday 16 July 1999 in a field at the Spilling farm northwest of Slite, on northern Gotland, Sweden.

The silver hoard consisted of two parts with a total weight of 67 kg (148 lb) before conservation and was made up of, among other things, 14,295 coins most of which were Islamic and from other countries. A third deposition containing over 20 kg (44 lb) of bronze scrap-metal was also found. The three caches had been hidden under the floorboards of a Viking outhouse sometime during the 9th century.

On Friday 16 July 1999, a team of reporters from the Swedish television TV4 were in the socken of Othem on Gotland to film a cultural feature from Almedalen Week.

They chose to do a segment on the problem with looting of archaeological sites with archaeologist Jonas Ström acting as their guide along with Kenneth Jonsson, a professor of numismatics, who happened to be on the island at that time. Spillings farm was selected for the filming since about 150 silver coins and bronze objects had been found there earlier by the landowner Björn Engström.

Closeup of silver coins from hoard No 2.

With filming complete, Ström and Jonsson decided to continue their survey of the field. Twenty minutes after the TV-crew had left, they heard a strong signal from their metal detector, which led them to the smaller of the two silver caches.

A couple of hours later and only 3 metres (9.8 ft) from the first find, they received another signal from the detector:

Closeup of silver hoard No 2 from the Spillings Hoard at Gotland Museum.

The site was hurriedly cordoned off, back-up crew from the museum was sent for, permission for an archaeological excavation was immediately sought at the County Administrative Board and guards were posted.

However, instead of keeping the find a secret, the Gotland Museum decided to go public with the find immediately. During the first weekend, over 2,000 people visited the excavation site.

Some days later, the metal detector indicated a third metal cache approximately 1.5 metres (4.9 ft) from the first find. The archaeologists concentrated on uncovering the two first finds before starting with the third. Due to the size of the hoards and the fragility of the objects, the bottom layers of the depositions were encapsulated in plaster.

Only when they tried to lift the finds out of the soil did the archaeologists realize how heavy the hoards were. The smaller weighed 27 kg (60 lb) and the larger one 40 kg (88 lb). An attempt to X-ray the finds at the local hospital failed because they contained so much silver that the X-ray plates remained blank.

Iron fittings from the chest in the bronze cache.

The larger find was intact but the smaller had been damaged by a plough. A previous landowner who visited the excavation commented that he had found metal wires around the find-spot several years earlier, but thinking that they were only steel wire, he had thrown them away. It was therefore concluded that the treasure had originally been even larger.

With the two first caches taken care of, the third deposition was excavated almost a year after the first discovery. It contained over 20 kg (44 lb) of bronze scrap-metal, most of which had been partially melted into a ‘cake’. This find was deemed even more valuable since very few finds contain such large amounts of bronze intended for smelting.

Additional excavations were conducted in the summer of 2000 and in 2003-06. Remnants of wood, iron rivets and mounts as well as a lock mechanism were found, leading to the conclusion that the caches had been stored in chests.

An extended survey and excavation revealed the foundations of a building and indicated that the hoards had been placed under the floorboards of what would probably have been a warehouse, shed or storage rather than a dwelling since it had no hearth. Carbon dating showed that the building had been in use between 540 and 1040.

The foundations and the remaining postholes indicated a regular Viking Age structure, about 10 by 15 m (33 by 49 ft) with a slanting sedge-covered roof, much like other similar finds on Gotland. It had been built on an older Iron Age foundation.

Location of depositories in the stone foun dation at Spillings

The silver deposits were roughly square-shaped with rounded corners, about 40 cm to 45 cm × 50 cm (16 in to 18 in × 20 in), suggesting that they had been in sacks of cloth, leather or pelt, inside boxes or chests of wood.

In the bronze deposit were found substantial pieces of wood and iron, such as fittings, ironwork, nails and a lock-device, showing that the bronze had been kept in a sturdy chest. A carbon dating of the chest dated it to approximately 675, making it older than the objects stored inside it.

Although silver hoards and treasures are not unusual on Gotland, this was an exceptionally large find. One explanation may be found in the location near some of the island’s best and most significant harbours during the Viking Age. The silver in the caches would have been enough to pay the tax to the Swedish king for all of Gotland for five years.

Silver melted into bars from hoard No 2.

The following surveys and excavations of the fields surrounding the find-site showed that the site had been inhabited continuously over 1,000 years up until the 19th century. Over 700 more objects were retrieved, such as objects of bronze and copper, fired clay, clothes pins, a piece of glass, tile pieces, chains, needles, glass beads, slag, iron nails, polished semi-precious stones and brick.

The Spillings Hoard is the world’s largest Viking silver treasure. A finder’s fee of SEK 2,091,672 (approx. US$242,400) was paid to the landowner for the treasure, although the real value of it is much higher. It was the largest amount of money ever paid for a find in Sweden, according to director of the Swedish National Heritage Board Sven Göthe. The hoard was dated to have been hidden some time after 870–71.The treasure is on permanent display in the Gotland Museum.

As of 2015, more than 1,000 kilograms (2,200 lb) silver from over 700 caches deposited between the 9th and 12th centuries have been found on Gotland. This includes 168,000 silver coins from the Arab world, North Africa and Central Asia.

Silver melted into bars from hoard No 2.

The caches contained silver objects ranging from coins, bars, thread and hacksilver to be used as raw material, to jewelry such as fingerings, bangles and pendants. Much of the material had been bundled up to correspond with the mark-weight system of the Viking Age, in which 200 grams (0.44 lb) made one mark.

17th-Century Warship Pulled From Icy Baltic Sea Is Almost Perfectly Preserved

17th-Century Warship Pulled From Icy Baltic Sea Is Almost Perfectly Preserved

In the 1620s, King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden ordered the construction of a new warship to protect his citizens. The warship was named Vasa and its construction was hurried as the Swedes waged war in those years with the now-historic bi-confederation entity reigned by one monarch–the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

Vasa’s port bow.

After its creation, with several superlatives, the Vasa warship was described as being the largest and most capable battleship at the disposal of the Swedish navy.

The ship came to symbolize Sweden’s Great Power Period, in which the Nordic country controlled most of the Baltic Sea and forged its status as one of Europe’s most powerful kingdoms.

Warship in Vasa museum in Stockholm

The ship’s appearance was stunning, measuring 226 feet in length, 164 feet in height, and weighing more than 1,200 tons. With some 64 cannons installed on it, it promised whoever tried to mess with Vasa would face serious consequences. As it turned out, it never came to that.

The ship, against everyone’s expectations, proved to be fallible and faced an end that might easily remind people of the story of the RMS Titanic. Vasa did not hit an iceberg but still ignominiously sunk on its very first journey.

It was an embarrassing incident, overseen by crowds of Swedes who had gathered at the port of Stockholm from where the ship set sails towards the open seas for the very first and last time on August 10, 1628.

There were also prominent guests in the onlooking crowd, including royals and ambassadors from other countries. Having not sailed even one nautical mile, the mighty warship suddenly plunged into the water. Accounts point to errors happening during construction.

The vessel was the work of a Dutch shipbuilder. The contract was signed early in the year 1625 and Vasa was one of four vessels agreed on the list with shipbuilder Henrik Hybertsson.

The original arrangement was to have two smaller and two bigger vessels. Hybertsson died shortly after undertaking the project, and the construction effort was taken over by his assistant, Hein Jakobsson.

Illustration from a treatise on salvaging from 1734, showing the traditional method of raising a wreck with the help of anchors and ships or hulks as pontoons, basically the same method that was used to raise Vasa in the 20th century.

Construction plans were obviously modified, as Vasa, which was supposed to be one of the two smaller ships, appeared to be fitting the pair of two bigger ships upon completion. The ship came out much heavier than planned. It also carried extra weights such as hundreds of sculptures and at least 100 tons of ballast.

More evidence shows that the Swedes had the warship tested and noticed something was wrong with it, but under the pushy demands of the king, Vasa was prematurely sailed into the open sea and towards its premature doom.

The preserved Vasa in the main hall of Vasa Museum seen from above the bow.

A strong gust of wind was enough to overturn the vessel. When the water began to enter, all it took was a few minutes for it to sink 105 feet below the surface.

The Swedes were quick to dismiss and forget Vasa. This was to be their new favourite war toy and national pride and joy, yet it now lay sunk on the bottom of the ocean on its maiden voyage. It was a scandal that hurt the reputation of the kingdom, as well as having huge economic repercussions. Vasa had costed a fortune.

While an investigation was ushered in immediately after the ship sank, little could be done. The main shipbuilder had already been dead for over a year.

Illustration of a Swedish Emperors: Gustav Vasa, Gustav Adolf, Dronning Christine, A. Oxenstierna, Charles Gustav, Charles IX, Torstenson

There were efforts to recover Vasa from the seafloor immediately, but the task seemed impossible with the limited technology of the time. By the 1660s, a group of divers was able to retrieve the cannons, using an early model of the diving bell. The shipwreck was eventually left abandoned and forgotten…until the mid-20th-century.

In 1961, a few years after the shipwreck was rediscovered and identified as the lost 17th-century Vasa vessel, Sweden finally managed to recover it. Although Vasa had for centuries remained submerged in the sea, upon its reappearance it seemed positively in pristine condition.

The underwater position where it had sunk was key. The water was dark enough to stop ultraviolet light from protruding and affecting the ship’s wood. The chilly temperature of the Baltic was also soothing, preventing any rapid deterioration processes.

The inside of the lower gun deck looking toward the bow.

Having sunk close enough to the harbour, there was enough pollution in the water to bleach most parasites that may have wanted to feast on the wood of the wreck.

But some decaying issues began once the ship was taken out of the water.  Vasa underwent restoration at that point and was treated with substances to protect the wood, however, lab research later confirmed that the wood of the ship was struggling with extremely slow, ongoing fibre degradation.

Vasa warship canon hatches detail

There is no threat of immediate collapse, but this has remained a major occupation for conservationists who are still looking for the best way to stop the risky process.

Should the Vasa museum where the shipwreck is famously displayed in Stockholm allow its prime exhibit to perish for the second time, it would be a huge national loss. The Vasa goes a long way and has a special history with the Swedes as well as being one of the best-preserved historical ships in all of the world.

Woman who died in deadly Vasa warship’s wreck 400 years ago reconstructed in lifelike detail

Woman who died in deadly Vasa warship’s wreck 400 years ago reconstructed in lifelike detail

Woman who died in deadly Vasa warship's wreck 400 years ago reconstructed in lifelike detail
The new reconstruction shows Gertrude wearing a gray jacket and red hat, as pieces of these items were found by her skeleton on the Vasa shipwreck in Sweden.

When researchers raised the Vasa — a 17th-century Swedish warship that sank in Stockholm harbor on its maiden voyage — in the 1960s, they recovered nearly 20 skeletons. Scientists determined that one of those skeletons, dubbed G, was a male they called Gustav.

Earlier this year, a genetic analysis determined that G wasn’t male but female. Now, a new reconstruction of G, whose new nickname is Gertrude, reveals her likeness before the deadly 1628 shipwreck.

According to the new genetic analysis, “she was about 25-30 years of age when she died, her eyes were blue, her hair blonde and her skin pale,” Oscar Nilsson, a Sweden-based forensic artist who created the reconstruction, told Live Science in an email. 

Forensic artist Oscar Nilsson layered plasticine clay on a 3D vinyl printed skull to create Gertrude’s reconstruction.

Nilsson had crafted a reconstruction of Gustav in 2006 and was surprised when he learned that G was female, but he was glad he could help correct the record with a new reconstruction for the Vasa Museum in Stockholm. 

G’s sex suggests that she was married, he noted. “From written sources we know that only married women, and married to a man on board the ship, were allowed on board this maiden voyage.”

Nilsson still had the CT (computed tomography) scan and a 3D plastic print of G’s skull from the 2006 reconstruction, and he built on this by determining Gertrude’s tissue thickness, which he pulled from a chart of modern Scandinavian and North European women who were roughly the same age and weight as Gertrude.

The size of Gertrude’s mastoid process indicated that she had larger than usual ears.

These tissue measurements informed the height of the pegs he placed on the replica skull, which he then used as a guide as he layered muscles made out of plasticine clay on her head. Scientific techniques guided the size and shape of the nose, eyes and mouth.

“The ears are more speculative, but relies a lot on the size and surface of the mastoid process located behind the ears,” Nilsson said. “A big mastoid process means a big ear. And in Gertrude’s case, she certainly has prominent mastoid processes.”

This 2006 reconstruction of G’s skeleton shows Gustav, a 45-year-old man.

Although he was “careful of trying to give her an expression as close to Gustav’s as possible,” the two reconstructions have a few differences. Previously, Nilsson had tipped Gustav’s nose downward, but a new cranial analysis resulted in a more typical nose for Gertrude. Plus, Gustav was thought to be 45 years old. Because Gertrude is younger, “I provided her with more volume in her lips,” he said.

Despite her youth, Gertrude probably lived a hard life; a skeletal analysis of her back indicates that she lifted heavy objects repeatedly. “So just being 25-30, her face must give an impression of hard work,” he said. 

As such, Nilsson crafted her face to show a woman marked by strenuous work but with an awareness of the tragic event that marked her end. 

The skeleton of G, who was previously called Gustav until a genetic analysis revealed the absence of a Y chromosome, which almost all men carry. G’s new nickname is Gertrude.

Nilsson worked with Anna Silwerulv, a textile expert at the Vasa Museum, to dress the reconstruction with a dark gray jacket and hat, as pieces of these items were found by her remains.

A microscopic analysis indicated the hat was bright red. “And the original design was striking: a very high hat, reminding [us] of the traditional festive dressing of the Swedish peasantry, and the Samic ones as well,” Nilsson said. (The Sami are Indigenous people in Sweden.) 

Gertrude’s seriousness was “further enhanced when Anna and I put the bright red tall hat on Gertrude’s head.” But as to what Gertrude is thinking about in this reconstruction, “I leave that to all visitors to the museum,” Nilsson said.

Gertrude went on display at the Vasa Museum on June 28 and will be the main attraction when the museum’s new “Face to Face” exhibition opens in about a year.

Two unique mid-14th-century shipwrecks were discovered in Sweden

Two unique mid-14th-century shipwrecks were discovered in Sweden

During an archaeological dig in western Sweden this summer, the remains of two medieval merchant vessels known as cogs were discovered. Analyses show that the ships were built outside of Scandinavia in the mid-14th century.

Two unique mid-14th-century shipwrecks were discovered in Sweden

The cogs were discovered by a team from Arkeologerna, which is part of the National Historical Museums of Sweden, during the construction of a railway tunnel in the town of Varberg.

Named Varbergskoggen 1 and Varbergskoggen 2, the first consists of the nearly complete port side that is about 20.5 meters long and 5 meters wide. The remains of the second ship are the forward end of the bottom of the hull, roughly 8 meters in length and 4.5 meters in width.

Elisabet Schager, archaeologist and project leader of the excavation say: “These wrecks are a very special discovery, both in Sweden and abroad, so it has been fantastic to find them. Before these two wrecks were discovered, only 7 other cogs were known in Sweden, and only around 30 are known in the whole of Europe.”

The first dendrochronological (tree-ring dating) samples show that Varbergskoggen 1 was constructed with lumber felled after 1346 in what is now the Netherlands, Belgium, and north-eastern France, while the smaller Varbergskoggen 2 was constructed with oak felled between 1355 and 1357 in northern Poland.

These results suggest that both vessels were in foreign waters, a long way from home, when they ultimately disappeared beneath the waves.

The remains of Varbergskoggen 2 from above.

Cogs were medieval single-masted transport vessels that are often associated with the Hanseatic League but were also used across the whole of Northern Europe. Often seen as the successor the Viking Age Knarr, cogs were designed to maximize cargo space.

Several construction details were noted during the excavation of the wrecks, all of which are characteristics identifiable with traditional cog construction. For example, the bottom strakes of the vessels were built in the carvel style, while the sides are built in the more traditional clinker style. Furthermore, the caulking between the strakes was made with moss and secured with lathes. Also, the decks were supported with bulky crossbeams which stuck out the sides of the hull.

Archaeologists have also discovered a variety of fascinating artifacts in the wrecks, such as leather shoes and wood and ceramic housewares.

A rare cache of ship equipment and reserve parts were discovered aboard Varbergskoggen 1 (Varberg Cog 1, the larger of the two), protected from wreck plunderers by a pile of ballast stones.

Small figurine was found in one of the cogs.

According to Schager the finds gives a detailed account of life at sea.

“We have a lovely assortment of personal objects that represent parts of the crew’s daily routines, like wooden bowls and spoons. A number of barrel lids, some of which have what appears to be maker’s marks carved in them, were also unearthed among the wreckage. We have collected and are analyzing soil samples as well, which will hopefully be able to identify the remnants of food and/or cargo. We will even search for parasitic remains, which could identify if animals were kept onboard, and if so, which species. We hope to be able to piece together where the cogs’ fateful journey originated, and where they were headed.”

The cause of the sinking of the cogs is still not clear.

“Once we have cleaned every timber from the wrecks, and critically analyzed them, we will hopefully be able to get to the bottom of the mystery.

The information we could gather from the initial excavation is that the larger Varbergskoggen 1 had rolled onto its port side in shallow waters while it was still rigged”, says Schager.

Archeologists discover 2000-year-old Roman coins on the deserted Swedish island of Gotska Sandön

Archeologists discover 2000-year-old Roman coins on the deserted Swedish island of Gotska Sandön

Archeologists discover 2000-year-old Roman coins on the deserted Swedish island of Gotska Sandön

Archaeologists found 2,000-year-old Roman coins on the Swedish deserted island of Gotska Sandön.

Previously, ancient Roman coins were discovered on the Swedish island of Gotland. Finding similar ancient items on the deserted island of Gotska Sandön, on the other hand, is unusual. Because of its location, it is a unique discovery.

The coins stem from the time of Emperor Trajan, who ruled the Roman Empire in the years 98-117, and Antoninus Pius, who ruled between 138 and 161.

The discovery was made by a team of experts from Södertörn University and the Gotland Museum.

Archaeologists, to this day, have not been able to identify the historical role of the island within the Baltic region’s different historical eras. The island has been inhabited since the Stone Ages, as seal bones, slaughter remains from cows, and a battle glove was previously excavated.

A silver denarius showing the face of Roman emperor Trajan.

In a statement, Johan Rönnby, professor of marine archeology at Soderon University, which runs the excavations in collaboration with the Gotland Museum, stated that “These are exciting finds that raise several questions.”

Archaeologists are now debating whether the discoveries are shipwreck remains strewn across the beach. A large number of hearths and fireplace remains have been discovered along the island’s coast. Another theory is that the coins are somehow related to these activities.

A local lighthouse keeper claimed to have discovered a Roman coin on the island in the late 1800s, which was met with skepticism. The recent discoveries may vindicate him.

“Finds of Roman silver coins are not unusual for Gotland, but are for Gotska Sandon. What makes this find interesting is precisely the location,” Daniel Langhammer of the Administrative Board in Gotland County said.

Gotska Sandon islands.

Gotland, Sweden’s largest island and a key point in the Baltic Sea maritime trade, is rich in medieval treasures.

The number of Arab dirhams discovered on the island, in particular, is astounding, dwarfing any other site in Western Eurasia. These coins made their way north along the Silver-Fur Road through trade between Rus merchants and the Abbasid Caliphate.

The 9-km long and 6-km wide Gotska Sandon island is part of Gotland County and has been a national park since 1909.