'World's oldest' wreck found in Swedish Baltic

World's oldest wreck ?

From The Local

What looks very much like a cog, a ship used in the Baltic between the 12th and the 14th centuries, has been discovered in the waters between the islands of Gotland and Öland off the east coast of Sweden.

The vessel showed up in sonar pictures of the area, causing experts on shipwrecks to believe that they may have the world’s oldest intact shipwreck on their hands.

“The hairs at the back of my neck stood up when I first saw the pictures,” said shipwreck expert Erik Bjurström to the local Barometern daily.

Because of the age of the ship and the location, historians cannot but wonder if it in fact could be the legendary ship that carried the Danish king Valdemar Atterdag home after his sacking of Visby on Gotland, in 1361 AD.

"There is a theoretical possibility that it is Atterdag's ship," said Richard Lundgren at exploration firm Ocean Recycling to The Local on Friday.

Wanting to limit the power of the hanseatic trade league in the area, King Valdemar IV of Denmark decided to attack the Baltic island of Gotland. According to legend he hated the Gotlanders and especially the city of Visby, where he had heard that they had made up songs to mock him.

Once in possession of the city of Visby, the Danish king, wanting to humble the burghers, allegedly set up three huge beer barrels saying that if the barrels weren't filled with silver and gold within three days, he would turn his men loose to pillage the town.

But the barrels were filled before nightfall of the first day and after the churches had been stripped of their riches, the loot was loaded on Danish ships and carried home.

However, one ship was lost on the way and although sought by many a shipwreck expert, it has never been found.

After studying the images Bjurström it is almost certain that what the sonar showed is a medieval cog.

The discovered ship was found at a depth of 100 metres in a secret location between the two Baltic isles. The sonar pictures show a small vessel, 28 metres long and seven metres wide.

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