Bohuslän province on the west coast of Sweden is known internationally for its many and varied Bronze Age rock art sites. But its archaeology is rich regardless of what period you look at. My maternal great-granddad’s people came from Tanum and Kville parishes, so I’m sort of a Bohuslän aborigine.

The discovery of a Medieval shipwreck off the Bohuslän coast was recently announced. Or rather, the wreck has been known for centuries, and local tradition held it to date from the grim early-18th century reign of warrior king Carolus XII. Now maritime archaeologist Staffan von Arbin from the County Museum has secured samples dating the vessel’s construction to between 1310 and 1350. The samples also indicate England as the timber’s most probable country of origin.

This may be a historically documented shipwreck: on 20 February 1361, King Edward III of England wrote to King Magnus Eriksson of Sweden and Norway with a complaint regarding the latter’s seizure of goods from an English ship that had foundered right about the place where the newly dated wreck is.

Thanks to Niklas Ytterberg for the tip-off.


  1. #1 Romeo Vitelli
    February 13, 2009

    Do they know what kind of shipment it was carrying?

  2. #2 Martin R
    February 14, 2009

    Not sure if there are any indications. The site hasn’t been dug, just sampled. And I haven’t read King Edward’s letter. Maybe he enumerates the contents of the seized cargo?

  3. #3 Staffan von Arbin
    February 14, 2009

    According to the letter, the ship carried cloth. As Martin says we haven’t dug the site yet, so we don’t know if there still are remains of the cargo inside the wreck. If we can raise the necessary funding we will try to do a small test excavation later this year.

  4. #4 Martin R
    February 15, 2009

    Bring a metal detector to pick up coins and lead seals from the cloth bales!

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