Saturday, August 15, 2015


15 August 2015: And speaking of things recovered from watery graves, my friends at Mystic Seaport (CT) tell me that divers in Sweden have salvaged a figure head from a 15th century Danish warship, Gribshunden, (I am told that is Swedish for "Griffon-dog, but since I have no knowledge of Swedish, I can not confirm it!). The 660 pound figurehead is carved into am 11 foot long beam and shows a crocodile mouth with lion ears. So far, it appears to be the only one in existence. Here's a photo of it:
Aside from being remarkably well preserved (I guess the really cold water there in Sweden is good for preservation!) it is an imaginatively carved critter which, I am sure, struck terror into the hearts of the enemies of the Danes! And warded off evil spirits as well!
To put in perspective the age of this artifact, consider that when this figurehead last saw daylight, Christopher Columbus was alive and Leonardo Da Vinci was creating his masterpieces!
The wreck was found in the Baltic Sea, south of Stockholm, discovered by sport divers in the 1970's but was not identified for several decades. As I mentioned above, it was the Gribshunden, which sank in 1495, and belonged to King Hans. The ship died not in battle, but was anchored in Ronneby en route to Kalmar when it caught fire and sank. It had been built most likely in Flanders with timbers harvested in France around 1482-3. Amazingly, the wreck is quite intact, considering its age. The low salinity of the Baltic prevents boring worms and other nasty critters from eating the wood.
Raising the figurehead. Bet that water is damn cold!
Following preservation, the figurehead will be on display in Ronneby, Sweden this autumn.
Until next time, friends,
                                     Fair Winds!
                                             Old Salt

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