Shipwreck from 14th century found in Stockholm canal

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The Independent Online

Archaeologists have found a shipwreck from the late 14th century buried in the mud of a Stockholm canal.

They are awaiting permission to excavate the wreckage - one of the oldest found in the Swedish capital - hoping it will shed light on shipbuilding techniques and trade.

Archaeologists say they might be able to salvage the ship, as was done with the 17th century warship Vasa, which is now housed in a museum and has become one of Stockholm's main tourist attractions.

Parts of the wreckage are protruding from the sediment at a depth of about 30ft in the Riddarfjarden canal leading into the heart of Stockholm, officials from the National Maritime Museum said. Archaeologists found it last autumn when examining a site for a new train tunnel. They have dated the construction of the ship to between 1350 and 1370, and believe it sank some time in the 1390s. "What is so special is that it is under water, here in Stockholm," said Marcus Hjulhammar, project leader for the museum. "That makes it much more likely that it is well preserved than if it had been on land."

Shipwrecks have a decent chance of being well-preserved in the low-salt waters of the Stockholm archipelago because of a lack of wood-eating shipworms. If the entire ship - the size and type of which is unclear - is still intact, its cargo could give historians a better idea of trading in the area at the time.

A large crack in the hull has been covered by a piece of leather that had been nailed to the boards, Mr Hjulhammar said. "That is a sign that this ship was very worn down, and it is possible that this repair work is part of the reason it sank."

The museum is awaiting permission from the county government to dig out the remaining parts of the ship, Mr Hjulhammar said. They will then decide whether it is possible to lift it to land. "But it depends on how eroded it is," he said. "It may turn out that it is better to let her lie."