Weapon chest discovered on the remains of a 15th century 'floating castle'

SwedenA hundred-year-old weapons chest could help archaeologists understand the fire and explosion that sank the Danish king’s flagship.

Underwater archaeologists in Sweden have determined that a chest on the wreck of a 15th-century warship contained tools for making lead bullets for early handguns, Live Science reported on April 23. The discovery revealed key changes in naval warfare at that time. The shipwreck named Gribshunden (Griffin Hound), known as the “floating castle” of the Danish royal family, sank in 1495 in the southern Swedish anchorage after a fire contributed to gunpowder discharge. explosive.

The discovery could help shed light on the ship’s fate, according to Rolf Warming, a maritime archaeologist and doctoral student at Stockholm University. Warming co-authored a new paper on the weapon chest and other finds from the Gribshunden wreck with Johan Rönnby, a maritime archaeologist and professor at Södertörn University in Sweden. The wreck was discovered by recreational divers in the 1970s, and Rönnby has been studying it since 2013.

The new discovery also shows the early development of maritime warfare from direct ramming and hand-to-hand combat in ancient times to attacking enemies from afar with gunpowder, according to Warming. But he emphasized that this development took more than a century to spread. “This was the beginning of what we call maritime military evolution. That tactics and technology only matured in the second half of the 17th century,” Warming said.

Warming and Rönnby used photogrammetry, a technique that involves digitally stringing together photos to create an accurate 3D model of the weapons chest. The chest remains underwater at the site of the wreck in a coastal archipelago near the Swedish town of Ronneby, but Warming hopes to be able to collect it soon. Preserving items in chests will be a lengthy process. Based on what can be seen from the top layer of the chest, it contained several molds of various sizes for making circular lead bullets used in early handguns, lead plates for melting the molds, and a cylindrical box that appeared to be a canister. shot.

The team identified the chest as a “zeuglade”, a type of tool chest used to create ammunition. They speculate the chest belonged to a company of German-speaking mercenaries on board when the ship sank. In addition, a chain bulletproof vest made from bronze in the Bavarian city of Nuremberg in the early 1400s was also found on the wreck.

Gribshunden was the flagship of King Hans of Denmark, who returned from the Swedish town of Kalmar when the ship sank. King Hans and his entourage were not on board at the time. Kalmar was where the agreement to unite Denmark, Norway and Sweden under one dynasty, called the Kalmar Union, was discussed. But the agreement was suspended, and in 1945, King Hans sought to persuade Sweden to rejoin the alliance under his rule. Learning about the fire that sank the Gribshunden can help explain open questions such as whether the accident was a sabotage attempt or not.

By Editor

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