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Photo: Ingemar Lundgren / Blekinge museum

Gribshunden - Contemporary with Columbus

Outside Stora Ekön in Ronneby’s archipelago lies one of the world’s best preserved 15th-century shipwrecks. It is Gribshunden, the flagship of Danish King John, which sank here in 1495 after a fire on board.

Facts

Deep: 9 metres

Build: -

Length: 30-32 metres

Width: 10 metres

Shipwreck: 1495

Ship type: Ship

The late medieval wreck is located on the north side of Stora Ekön at a depth of about 10 metres. Many recreational divers have visited it since it was discovered in the 1970s, and Kalmar County Museum has carried out several surveys of it.

The museum initially dated the remains to 1450–1550. Wood samples provided more accurate data after a dendrochronological analysis: the wood was felled in the winter of 1482–83 in the northeast of present-day France.

Many finds were discovered at the wreck site, including gun carriages, a windlass for anchors, crossbow arrows, and remnants of a chain mail in bronze. The most conspicuous find is probably the figurehead in the form of a monster devouring a screaming man.

With the aid of written sources, the wreck could be identified as Gribshunden, a carvel-built ship belonging to Denmark’s King John. In 1495, King John was on his way to Kalmar when he was forced to seek shelter from a storm at Stora Ekön. A fire erupted on board and the ship was quickly set ablaze. The king could have gone ashore, but according to the sources many of the crew perished and numerous valuables were lost.

Experts consider the Gribshunden shipwreck to be one of the world’s best preserved 15th-century ships. One intriguing idea is that the ship sank only three years after Christopher Columbus sailed to America with his ship the Santa Maria.

Facts

Deep: 9 metres

Build: -

Length: 30-32 metres

Width: 10 metres

Shipwreck: 1495

Ship type: Ship

See where the wreck is located To the map