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The Lastdrager (in English: load carrier) was a merchant ship sailing for the Dutch East India Company (VOC). The ship was not built at the shipyards of the VOC, but was purchased in 1648. She had made twovoyages to the East before she was lost off Yell on the 2nd of March 1653. She had struck the reefs of the Bluemull Sound. 26 people survived the loss of the Lastdrager. The event was documented by one of the survivors, Johannes Camphuys. He wrote a dramatic account on the stranding of the ship and his own survival. He finally reached the East and after years got the function of Gouverneur-Generaal, the highest function that could be reached within the company VOC.

Portrait of Johannes Camphuys.

Archaeological description

Several salvage operations were attempted in the years following the loss. However these had little results andclose to nothing of the cargo was recovered.

The ship was (re)discovered in 1970 and was excavated by Robert Stenuit in the years 1971-72. There had been partial excavation and record by Stenuit to illuminate the 17th century development of the VOC.

There were approx. 2746 complete and fragmentary artefacts such as: navigational tools, surgical instruments and everyday artefacts such as spoons, jewellery items and clay pipes. Some remarkable finds were golfclubs and small arms.

The majority of the items recovered from the wreck were individually sold at an auction at Sotheby's. This auction took place on November 8th, 1973.

The site of the Lastdrager is protected under the Protection of Wrecks act of 1978.

Sotheby's Auction overview: including Lastdrager.


Name: Lastdrager

Type: Fluyt

Master: Johannes Camphuijs

Purchased for the VOC
in 1648

Yard: Amsterdam

Chamber: Amsterdam

Tonnage: 640, 320 last

Length: 140 ft

Width: 27 ft

Painting of a Fluyt ship, ca. 1650.


The Lastdrager wrecked on the Cruss of Ness in the Bluemull Sound, Yell at the Shetland Islands of Scotland.

Bluemull sound, Shetland Isles.


The site of the Lastdrager is protected under the Protection of Wrecks act of 1978. See description for more information on the discovery and its research.

East Indiaman

Roman structures