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stepping stones of maritime history

History

This wreck was discovered in 1999 on the west coast of the island of Poel in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania and excavated by Dr. Thomas Förster. Initially it was dated typologically into the high medieval period. This initially seemed to be corroborated by a dendrochronological analysis of the treenails, pointing to a felling date to around/after 1369.

This was one of two wrecks associated with the illusive "Baltic cog type", a hypothesis based on iconographic evidence from ship-depictions on town seals. It differed in that it was a fully lapstrake-built vessel with a beam-keel, thereby deviating from some of the criteria set up for the Bremen-type or bottom-based tradition, which has been commonly associated with cogs. Moreover, instead of the more common oak, this vessel was entirely built of coniferous wood.

The ship-timbers were revisited ex situ within the framework of Mike Belasus' PhD project, who commissioned a new dendrochronological analysis, carried out by Dr. Aoife Daly. This time 16 samples were taken from the timbers directly. Surprisingly, the new analysis yielded a strikingly different result: The timber was felled 1773 or shortly thereafter. Based on the master chronologies for pine, the timber originated in south-west Finland.

Description

The wreck has been noted for its wide flat-bottomed beam, but entirely lapstrake-built at a time when carvel building was most common. Both the construction and selection of timber species underpin the vessel's rural origin.

Belasus 2017

Status

The ship-timbers are in a waterlogged storage. The legacy of this wreck's research history highlights that hypotheses on historical type-names can easily crumble when key assumptions about a find are refuted by hard scientific evidence. The archetype of a "Baltic cog" has already become ingrained in popular culture through the initial over-interpretation of this wreck-find and has culminated in the reconstruction of this vessel as "cog" (cf. Poeler Kogge or WISSEMARA), in which the medieval style superstructure and rig has been simply superimposed on what has turned out to be an early modern coastal trader from Finland (at that time a Swedish province).

References

  • Belasus, M. (2014).
    Tradition und Wandel im neuzeitlichen Klinkerschiffbau der Ostsee am Beispiel der Schiffsfunde Poel 11 und Hiddensee 12 aus Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (= Dissertation).
    Universität Rostock.
  • Belasus, M. (2017).
    Connecting maritime landscapes or early modern news from two former 'Baltic Cogs' (Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, Germany).
    Ships And Maritime Landscapes (= Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Symposium on Boat and Ship Archaeology, Amsterdam 2012), pp. 179-184.
    Eelde: Barkhuis Publishing.
  • Daly, A. & Belasus, M. (2016).
    The Dating of Poel 11 and Hiddensee 12, Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, Germany.
    The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology 45.1, 170–205.
  • Förster, T. (2009).
    Große Handelsschiffe des Spätmittelalters. Untersuchungen an zwei Wrackfunden des 14 Jahrhunderts vor der Insel Hiddensee und der Insel Poel (= Schriften des Deutschen Schiffahrtsmuseums 67).
    Bremerhaven.
  • Lüth, F., Förster, T. (1999).
    Schiff, Wrack, ’Baltische Kogge’.
    Archäologie in Deutschland 4, 8–13.
  • Poeler Kogge WISSEMARA (historical reconstruction as "cog").
  • Der Spiegel.
    Ostseewracks neu datiert: Berühmte Schiffe sind offenbar jünger als vermutet.

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