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stepping stones of maritime history



A violent storm ravaged the roadstead of Texel during Christmas night of 1593. This roadstead in the north of the Netherlands was one of the most important convergence points of merchant ships in Northern Europe at the time. Many ships were lost and among these was the ship whose wreck would become known as Scheurrak SO1 (it was called after the fairway in which it was found). The wreck turned out to be that of a Dutch merchant ship with a cargo of (still well preserved) Baltic wheat. It was discovered by amateur divers in 1984.


The wreck was excavated by the Netherlands Institute for Ship- and underwater Archaeology (NISA, the predecessor of the maritime archaeology department of the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands) between 1987 and 1997 when the NISA developed ways to do archaeological research in the muddy Dutch waters. It was the first large underwater excavation in the Netherlands.

Finds from the wreck

Several types of weaponry were found in the Scheurrak SO1 wreck . Amongst them were four iron cannons (so-called gotelingen) and five small gun carriages (with three wheels). The ammunition of the cannons varied from 6-8 cm - they are 2, 3 and 4 pounders. Seven arquebuses and some muskets were also found.

musket balls in a casket


Musket balls in a casket.

Special finds

A special linstock has been found in the wreck. A linstock (also called a lintstock, adapted from the Dutch 'lontstok' or 'match stick') is a staff with a fork at one end to hold a lighted slow match. Linstocks were used for firing cannons in the early days of artillery. This linstock is special because it is has a poem on its rim, with the name of the poet.

The following text is on the stick (in Old Dutch):

'Die avent en die muierghen zyn niet even goet
Den moerghen moet sorghen dat den avent niet en doet
Soude den avent sorghen als den morghen doet
Daer soner menigh ryen die nu gaen tefoet.

- Bymy cornelis clasoon van block dick ffff anno 1590.'

In English:

'The evening and morning are not equally good
The morning has to make what the evening does not
Should evening make what morning does
Then many would ride who are now on foot.
- Made by me Cornelis Claaszoon van Blokdijk in the year 1590.'

Some research has been done into the background of the poem. A sailor named Corneliszoon Claesz van Westerblokker lived in Blokdijk, a small village near the city of Hoorn. He was a gunner (so-called bosschieter). So it is possible that he was the man who wrote the poem on the stick.

Lintstock with poem


Linstock with poem.

Special finds

A large amount of personal items were found in the wreck. Among them are a decorated wooden box, containing the posessions of an official: a pair of slippers, a gavel, a set of ceremonial batons, a signet and a chunk of sealing wax. Many images of the finds from the wreck and drawings of it have been published on Wikimedia by the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (see references).

Decorated box:


Decorated wooden box with contents.


The ship found here was intended for the Baltic trade (these were called Oostvaarders by the Dutch, 'East Sailers'). When looking at the hull shape, it is clear that the ship found here had not yet evolved into a ship of the flute type (fluitschip), a widely used Dutch ship type in the 17th century.

The design of flutes was largely similar to that of the early galleons. They generally measured around 200-300 tons and were around 80 feet long. The pear-shaped vessel had a large cargo hold near the waterline and a relatively narrow deck above that. This was a way to bring down the amount of tolls collected by Denmark in the Øresund, which was assessed based on area of the main deck.

The fluit was square rigged with two or three masts. The masts of this type were much longer than those of galleons to allow for greater speed.

Part of the hull


Part of the hull.

impression of the wreck and the hull part saved


Impression of the wreck and the saved hull part.


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