Sturkö (Suède): Extraordinary' shipwreck found

Oliver Gee

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An 800-year-old shipwreck has been found by divers off the south coast of Sweden, prompting archaeologists to ponder the potential treasures inside.


Lars Einarsson, underwater archaeologist at the Kalmar County museum, was amazed at the results of the exploration of the ship found off the coast of Sturkö, near Karlskrona.

“This is an extraordinary medieval wreck. We’ve found that the wood was cut down between 1250 and 1300,” he told The Local.

The long and narrow ship, measuring 14 by two metres, would have been sleek and fast, and most likely used for attacking and looting.

The ship is 1.8 metres underwater, and is still almost completely buried under the seafloor, which makes for “troublesome diving conditions” according to Einarsson.

“When the divers recovered fragments for dating, they were literally ‘looking’ with their hands,” he said.

“The sediment is so easily disturbed that it makes it almost impossible to see what you’re doing. In some ways, it would be easier if the ship was ten times deeper.”

While the cost of excavating the ship is enormous and the decision to do so is in the hands of the Kalmar county administrative board, Einarsson explains that the potential contents of the ship may make the mammoth project feasible.

“We really want to determine why the ship was abandoned. We want to know if it was dramatic, or whether it was just left because the ship became too old-fashioned,” he told The Local.

“If it was left under dramatic circumstances, who knows what treasures the insides of the ship may hold? The contents would be tremendously helpful in making a connection to the cultural and historical context of the ship.”

While Swedish media has referred to the find as a Viking ship, Einarsson is quick to point out that this is not the case.

“It was built in the same style as the Viking ships, but that’s not saying much – some ships on Norway’s west coast are still built in that style. This is certainly a medieval wreck, and this is exciting as there haven’t been many found from this time.”

Meanwhile, Einarsson explains that this won’t be the last wreck found off Swedish shores.

“Prehistoric and medieval ship could come extremely close to the shores. There are certainly many more ancient wrecks that have yet to be discovered off the coasts of Sweden, many right under our feet when we’re swimming on holiday,” he told The Local.