Archaeology

UNDERWATER ARCHAEOLOGISTS REVEAL FOOTAGE OF NORWAY’S “OLDEST” SHIPWRECK

IN 2022, A TEAM FROM THE NORWEGIAN DÉFENSE RESEARCH INSTITUTE AND THE NORWEGIAN UNIVERSITY OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY (NTNU) ANNOUNCEMENT THE DISCOVERY OF A SHIPWRECK DURING A SURVEY TO MAP WW2 AMMUNITIONS DUMPED IN NORWAY’S LAKE MJØSA.

According to the press announcement at the time, the ship, named the Storfjord wreck, was suggested to date from the 14th century or possibly earlier, and could be Norway’s oldest known shipwreck.

Sonar images showed the hull to be around 10-metres in length by 2.5 metres in width, and is situated on the lakebed at around 410 metres beneath the surface.

From the design, it was suggested that the ship could be a clinker type construction, a traditional Norse boatbuilding method that overlapped the planks of the hull to reduce overall weight, and that the ship likely had a square sail comparable to those used by the Vikings.

In May 2023, underwater archaeologists used a remote-controlled underwater vehicle (ROV) to film the wreck site, revealing the footage at NTNU during Ocean Week.

The footage shows that parts of the hull are in situ protruding above the lakebed, which the researchers suggest are the remains of the upper strake, a longitudinal course of planking which runs from the ships stempost (at the bows) to the sternpost or transom (at the rear). The footage also shows that the strakes have no rowlocks, suggesting that the vessel was self-propelled instead of rowed.

Øyvind Ødegård, from the NTNU University Museum, told sciencenorway.no: “On top, you have a slightly stronger, slightly rounded strake that reinforces and prevents it from breaking when you enter or exit the boat, or row.”

Dating the wreck from the footage is still inconclusive, however, it does give further support to the theory of the ship being a clinker-type construction.

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