Archaeology Magazine Archive

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Baltic Mystery Wreck Volume 55 Number 4, July/August 2002
by Per Akesson

A ship discovered in the Baltic Sea features a gilded figurehead in the shape of a seahorse. (Courtesy Per Akesson) [LARGER IMAGE]

The Swedish Navy has released footage of a spectacularly preserved eighteenth-century ship discovered during routine winter exercises in the Baltic Sea. Sitting upright in 300 feet of water, the 75-foot-long ship, identified as a snow brig, features two masts, an intact bowsprit, deck-level gunports, and a gilded figurehead in the shape of a seahorse, above. The ship seems to be a minor naval or postal ship. Why it sank is a mystery, since both the hull and rigging are intact. Skulls from at least two crewmen lie on the deck, which is also unusual, since casualties usually float away during sinking.

However, according to both the Swedish Navy commander who located the wreck and Swedish National Maritime Museum underwater archaeologist Bert Westenberg, neither authority has the money to return to the wreck site for a new investigation. Archival research may at least resolve the identity of the ship.

© 2002 by the Archaeological Institute of America