Anchor Types

The first anchors were probably made of stone. The disk-shaped stones had at least one hole in the middle, to attach the line, and the stone anchors probably could serve as ballast as well. Stone anchors have been used in parts of the world until historical times. In Roman times, in the Mediterranean, ship anchors were made of either lead and wood, or entirely of iron.

Stone anchors. Museo Archeologico, Palermo, Italy.

Roman lead stock anchors with metal fluke braces, reconstructed with modern wood. Museo Archeologico, Palermo, Italy.

Anchor of Greek-Roman type off Cefal¨, Sicily. Photo courtesy Gianfranco Purpura, University of Palermo.

Lead stock anchor from Nemi ship, 5 m long (c 40 AD).

Reconstructed iron anchor from Nemi ship, 4 m long (c 40 AD).

After Antiquity, European anchors are mostly made of iron, often with a wooden stock. From the 19th century, the stock was made of iron instead of wood. Also, the anchor rope was replaced by the anchor chain.

Iron anchor from Cefal¨ Byzantine wreck, 6th century AD. Photo courtesy Gianfranco Purpura, University of Palermo.

  Iron anchor of the Oseberg ship (c 850 AD).

HMS Pandora, 1791

Wooden stock iron anchor of the Pandora (1791).


Text in Swedish


  • Gerhard Kapitńn's article on anchors in IJNA vol 13 1984.

Per ┼kesson, November 1999

Nemi ship anchors courtesy Dianae Lacus. Oseberg anchor image from The Viking Ships by A W Br°gger & H Shetelig (Oslo 1951, 1971). Page rev jul '12

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