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stepping stones of maritime history


Within the framework of a rescue excavation in 2009 at the Rhine dyke in close proximity to the fortification remains of Kaiserwerth, a flat-bottomed river craft was discovered at the northern corner of the fortification's batardeau. As substantial masonry remains of the batardeau (cf. plan below: red line in the blue rectangle) had collapsed onto the wreck (green line), a stratigraphic terminus ante quem of 1702 was inferred, associated with the siege of the fortress by allied troops from Holland, Brandenburg and England in the War of Spanish Succession.


The wreck's cross-section is typical for a type of pram known as nachen in southern Germany, or more specifically as schnieke in the upper Rhine area.

Length60.4 feet (18.4 m)
Beam11.5 feet (3.5 m)


The flood control necessitated a swift recovery of the wreck remains, so that an extensive in situ documentation was impossible.

The ship-timbers were transported to a conservation facility at Gottorf Castle in Schleswig for PEG-conservation. In March 2021, the conservation was finalised and the wreck will be re-assembled in the near future at an exhibition area in Düsseldorf (to be determined).


  • Schletter, H.-P. (2009).
    Batardeau, Uferbefestigung und ein Plattbodenschiff der frühen Neuzeit in Kaiserwerth.
    Archäologie im Rheinland 2009, 173-175.
  • Schletter, H.-P. (2012).
    Der Kaiserswerther Nachen. Ein archäologischer Beitrag zur Rheinschifffahrt der frühen Neuzeit.
    Deutsches Schiffahrtsarchiv 35, 2012, 13-72.

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