A medieval shipwreck has been found near the island of Dyngö, outside Fjällbacka, on the Swedish west coast. The ship was identified by maritime archaeologists from the University of Gothenburg undertaking underwater archaeological investigations of wrecks on the sea floor in this area. On its discovery, a limited survey was carried out of the previously unknown shipwreck, which has been given the name ‘Dyngökoggen’.
Dendrochronological analysis has determined that the boat was built using oaks felled between 1233 and 1240, making it the oldest shipwreck known in the province of Bohuslän, as well as one of the oldest cogs ever found in Europe. A cog is a type of ship that was widely used from the 12th century onwards, constructed with carvel planking (flush-laid) on the bottom of the vessel, and clinker (overlapping) planking on the sides. The seams between the planks were often sealed with moss, evidence of which can clearly be seen in the Dyngökoggen wreck. The remaining section of the hull is around 10m long and 5m wide, but principal investigator Staffan von Arbin believes that the ship may have been up to 20m long.
Analysis of wood samples from the wreck also revealed that the oaks used came from north-western Germany, suggesting that the vessel was built somewhere in the region of Bremen or Hamburg. Cogs were used throughout northern Europe in the medieval period, but this ship’s discovery outside Fjällbacka reflects the presence of important international maritime trade routes through Bohuslän at this time.
There is, however, some mystery surrounding the ship’s demise, as the survey revealed clear evidence of an intense fire. Researchers have speculated that the cog may have been attacked by pirates, as there are written sources that attest to high levels of pirate activity along Norway’s southern coast (of which Bohuslän was a part until the 17th century) at various points in the medieval period. It has also been proposed that perhaps the ship was sunk in battle, as this was a turbulent time in Norway’s history. However, it is possible too that it was simply the result of an accident, perhaps a fire that spread while the ship was docked.
The findings from the maritime archaeologists’ research are currently undergoing analysis, and it is hoped that it will be possible to carry out more extensive investigations of the wreck in the future.