direct to content


stepping stones of maritime history


In the course of a planned port development, three medieval shipwrecks were discovered in the Bay of Wismar and later investigated within the framework of a rescue excavation.

This is the largest of the three, excavated in 26 days in November and December 2017 by maritime archaeologists under the direction of Dr. Jens Auer of the State Department for Archaeology in Mecklenburg Western Pomerania (Landesamt für Kurtlur und Denkmalpflege Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, LAKD).

The wreck was dismantled under water, the individual ship-timbers raised to the surface and transported to the LAKD conservation facility for waterlogged timber. The timbers were 3D recorded ex situ by using an Artec scanner, which prompted also the development of an innovative methodology for swift timber-recording with a great cost-benefit factor, i.e. "The 3D annotated scans method".

The wreck features some diagnostic features of the Nordic clinker shipbuilding tradition, most notably the presence of bitis. The results of the dendrochronological analysis show that the vessel was built from oak and pine cut in western Sweden between 1184-1190. The construction shows striking similarities with a number of other large 12th century cargo vessels, like the wreck from Karschau (northern Germany), the Lynæs 1 wreck (Denmark), and the 'the Big Ship of Bergen' (Norway).


A 3D model of the wreck created by Massimiliano Ditta for the LAKD.


The ship-timbers are conserved at the LAKD waterlogged timber storage and research is still ongoing.


  • Auer, J., Ditta, M. (2019).
    Bergung und Dokumentation des Bodendenkmals Wismar, Ostsee II, Fpl. 32 im Rahmen des Projektes „Seehafen Wismar, Fpl. 32” (3544-5504).
    Schwerin: Landesamt für Kultur und Denkmalpflege.
  • Ditta, M., Auer, J. (2021).
    The 'Big Ship' of Wismar: A well-preserved 12th century cargo vessel from the harbour of Wismar.
    Open Sea … Closed Sea. Local and inter-regional traditions in shipbuilding (= Proceedings of the 15th International Symposium on Boat & Ship Archaeology, Marseille 22-27 October 2018), 191-195-209.
  • Van Damme, T., Auer, J., Ditta, M., Grabowski, M., Couwenberg, M. (2020).
    The 3D annotated scans method: a new approach to ship timber recording.
    Heritage Science 8:75, 1-18.

Down on 6 December

New in MaSS

Wrecks of Flevoland

Burgzand Noord

13 Provinces