The flute-ship Anna Maria of Stockholm

    This is an extract of chapter five in the book "Looking for Leads" (The Finnish Academy of Science and Letters, 1997, ISBN 951-41-0805-1).

The site and the wreck

From the close of the 15th century, and possibly even earlier, the natural harbour of Dalarö near Stockholm was part of a channel skirting the eastern coast of Sweden. It is here at Dalarö that the site and wreck discussed in this chapter are located. Beginning in the 16th century, fortifications were built there, partly on the mainland and partly on the nearby islands, to prevent possible enemies from using the channel leading to Stockholm. In 1636 the fort now known as Dalarö skans was erected on one of the islands. Gradually a small community arose on the adjacent part of Dalarö, where a customs house was also built. The population of the community consisted mostly of fishermen, pilots, seamen and customs officials. The village had several taverns for seamen waiting for suitable winds in the sheltered harbour. The community of Dalarö was an important junction for traffic to and from Stockholm. Vessels sailing to Stockholm had to give their customs declarations already at this point, which meant that Dalarö became the centre of considerable maritime traffic.


Fig 15. Model of the Anna-Maria in its present state, made by Harry Alopaeus.

At the bottom of this harbour, some seventy metres from the shore is the wreck of a merchant vessel, which – at the beginning of the present study – superficially appeared to be from the close of the 17th century or from the beginning of the 18th century. It had been a relatively large vessel for the period concerned, and its cargo is partly preserved. The cargo of sawn lumber is clearly visible upon inspection. Only the foredeck remains of the superstructures, and it is thus possible to look into the hold. This was presumably the result of a fire, for it is quite obvious that the ship is badly damaged by fire. According to local tradition at Dalarö, the vessel, known locally as Saltskutan (Salt Ship), was loaded with salt when it was lost. As will be seen, this was mistaken. But another local tradition concerning the vessel claims that it suffered from a fire that broke out when the crew was ashore drinking beer (oral communication by the late Professor Anders Franzén to the author; Franzén, who in his youth had dived to the wreck, believing it to be a 19th-century barge, had heard of the story of the burning ship from his father. As will also be seen, this story has a great deal to do with the truth).

The vessel, as will be seen, had returned on several occasions from voyages abroad with cargoes of salt. This was common to most merchantmen of the Baltic region in earlier times when they carried return cargo from the Mediterranean regions. There was a great demand for salt for the preservation of foodstuffs in the Nordic climate. It is obvious that a ship of these measurements was completely overdimensioned to be used exclusively in the Baltic traffic, and naturally it was not at all difficult to conclude that she had sailed foreign routes. The lines of the hull reveal certain Dutch features, e.g. the curving sides and the flat bottom pointed to Dutch origins. But this was as far as it was possible to proceed on the basis of visual inspection.

On the other hand, the wreck carried a cargo of what were typical Swedish export goods of the 18th century. The sawn lumber, revealed by the burnt deck, was analysed dendrochronologically. The National Maritime Museum (Statens Sjöhistoriska Museum, SSHM) had carried out a preliminary investigation of the wreck in the 1970s, with the following results:

1) Main dimensions:

The length of the wreck was slightly more than 38.1 metres, and the width varied at different parts of the hull between 8.1 and 8.4 metres.

2) Damage caused by fire:

As already mentioned, the wreck was considerably damaged by fire. The stern was almost completely missing, as also the superstructures. The sides were burnt, in parts down to the waterline. The worst damage caused by fire was to be found at the stern; the bow and adjacent parts had been partly spared, although here too considerable damage had been caused, although the fore-part was relatively intact, for example the foredeck still survived. The extent and type of damage can be seen in Fig. 15.

3) Construction material:

As far as experts were able to note, the whole hull was built of oak (Quercus quercus) deriving from an area outside southern Scandinavia and northern Germany. Owing to the lack of necessary basic dendrochronological curves for oak in the peripheral area (from the Swedish point of view), the material of the hull could not be identified any further. It was, however, interesting to note that the timber of the hull did not come from the Baltic region, nor from Northern Germany. As late as the 18th century, there were still Swedish possessions in the latter region, having been obtained by Sweden in the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648. These were Swedish Pomerania, parts of which remained under Swedish rule until 1815, and Bremen-Verden which Sweden ceded already in 1712 (Rasmusson 1959, p. 43).

4) Planking construction:

There are two ways of making the planking of a vessel: carvel technique, in which the sides of the planks are placed next to each other, and clinker technique in which the edges overlap. The wreck in question was carvel-built, which was easily observed despite the damages caused by fire.

Fig 16. There are two ways to construct the planking of a wooden vessel. If the planks are laid flush at the seams, the vessel is carvel-built. If the planks overlap, the vessel is clinker-built.

5) Cargo:

The vessel was carrying a full cargo, the composition of which is only partly known through archaeological studies of the material evidence.

On the other hand, a list of the cargo has been found in the archives (Latin sea certificates 1708; Archives of the Sea Certificate Office, Board of Commerce and Trade, RA). Concerning the contents of the hold, it could be observed that the upper layer of cargo consisted of sawn timber, planks of pine (Pinus silvestris), the most commonly used type of timber in Sweden. Furthermore, finds include barrels with steel staves, remains of iron bars, and rolls of copper plate. All these components of the cargo correspond to the list in Latin given in of Chapter 5, pages 105-110.

6) Location:

As mentioned above, the old ship rests on the bottom some seventy metres from the shore at Dalarö with the stern pointing landward. To make the description of the external, physical properties of the wreck complete we should add a further, seventh point, despite the fact that the location has already been indicated. The ship namely sank in the actual port of Dalarö.

These six points were the known factors in the equation to be solved, and were the facts that could be observed from the wreck itself. The unknown factors were far more numerous.

Dendrochronological analysis of the cargo

In 1984 and 1986 the Maritime Museum in Stockholm took a number of samples of the pine planks among the cargo of the wreck and also from the hull for dendrochronological analysis. In this connection (January 1986) the present author was contacted by the museum to attempt to identify the vessel. A natural means to this was to begin by using the results of these analyses. It was assumed in this connection that the dating of the cargo of planks and the date of the loss of the vessel were relatively close to each other.

This was based on the following argument:

Since lumber was one of the main export articles in 18th-century Sweden (second in value), large amounts of timber were exported from Stockholm, suggesting the further hypothesis that there was no time for any larger stocks of timber to accumulate. Owing to the great demand for timber, it was possible that most of the sawn goods were of relatively late date when the ship sank with its cargo, possibly being felled and transported to Stockholm not long before the shipwreck (Report to the Swedish Maritime Museum by Dr Thomas Bartholin 1986-12-3).

In reality, however, this was not precisely the situation in the lumber export trade. Lumber was considerably less important to Swedish exports than iron products, the leading group of articles. Already in 1929, Bertil Boethius pointed out that, for example, in the late 1730s the total annual export of sawn goods from the Realm did not amount to more than the yearly production of planks and boards by a single larger sawmill of the 1920s (Boethius 1929, p. 278, quoted in Högberg 1969, p. 101). The cited example is from a time when the Great Northern War was over and peace reigned in the land. Exports of timber in the middle of wartime must have been considerably less.

Samples from the hull were mainly taken to provide possible leads in establishing the provenance of the oak. Unfortunately, not one of the 28 oak samples from the hull could be dated, nor could they be synchronized with certainty with other samples from the vessel (Bartholin, ibid). Consequently, it Was not possible to obtain any results concerning the provenance of the material, except for the fact that the samples most probably did not originate from southern Scandinavia, or North Germany. The basic dendrochronological curves for oak in these areas were namely compared with the oak samples.

On the other hand, the cargo of pine yielded better results:

  Number of samples: Tree felled:  
4 1707-1708
3 1706-1707
4 1705-1706
1 after 1697 
1 after 1690 
1 after 1677 
1 after 1654 

Table 6. Dendrochronological dating of timber cargo samples from the Saltskutan wreck. (Pine planks in the cargo)

This suggested the conclusion that the timber could not have been taken on board before the summer of 1708. The 11 samples dating from the 18th century displayed similarities, which according to the dendrochronologist Thomas Bartholin of the Department of Quaternary Geology at the University of Lund, suggested that they might be from the Härjedalen region, having been floated down the River Ljusnan to be sawed at the coast and then shipped on to Stockholm. Bartholin also pointed out that the samples appearing to date from the 17th century were to be interpreted as lacking their outermost growth-rings, which had been worn off, thus providing an earlier date (The author wishes to thank Dr Bartholin for his work on the dendrochronological analyses. Without the precise dating of the samples, related research would have been far more difficult.)

With reference to this overview of the physical nature of the wreck, insofar as it concerns its identification, a summary has been drawn up of the points of departure for the study to be described below.

Without a detailed analysis of what these material points of departure could provide as indications for further study, the course of this study would have remained unclear. This particularly applies to the dating, but also to the aspects of social and judicial history combined with dendrochronologically established facts. Had these been lacking, attempts to identify and interpret this find would probably have yielded meager results.

When a ship of any size was lost in Swedish or Finnish waters, the resulting legal process almost always took place in the nearest staple town, and sometimes even in a nearby coastal town without staple rights. This observation leads to the conclusion that the process, which in all likelihood had taken place concerning the loss of the valuable ship at Dalarö had most probably been pursued in Stockholm. The obvious instance in this case would have been the city court (rådhusrätten). All the surviving records of this court, even for a reasonable period of time, naturally represented a much larger body of archival material than would have been possible to peruse. This problem, however, was alleviated by the fact that the dendrochronological analysis had fixed the possible date of the loss of the ship to within a few years. Establishing the probable point in time thus had the effect of eliminating a considerable part of the archive material, which would otherwise had to have been sifted, had the dating been less accurate. This was important, as no coins or other datable objects were found on board the ship.

Studies of historical decrees and judicial systems of the day had given the researcher a platform to stand on, admittedly a precarious one so far. But guided by the interpretations of the physical source material, it was gradually possible to construct a hypothesis which led towards the written sources. These would yield information, which having been tested would make it possible to attempt to answer the many questions concerning this ship.

Archival studies

In the hope of obtaining more information on the wreck, research was begun in the archives of Stockholm. It was now possible, with certain reservations, to assume that the sunken vessel was possibly Swedish, among other reasons because the so-called differential dues associated with mercantilistic policies generally made it unprofitable for foreign vessels to participate in the export of Swedish goods (Heckscher 1935-49,1:2 p. 675 et seqq.). Owing to the state of war existing in the region since 1700, foreign shipowners also had to take into consideration the risk of war in addition to unprofitability, which in itself was already a deterrent.

The effect of the above dues and other mercantilistic measures was already evident before the war in the form of a predominance of Swedish vessels in port trade. Almost three-quarters of all iron exported from Sweden to England in 1699 was shipped in Swedish vessels (Davis 1972, p. 218).

The mercantilistic measures of the Swedish authorities included the practice whereby the customs system favoured vessels built in Sweden. The evidence suggests that the vessel studied here was built outside Sweden, but most probably sailed under the Swedish flag. Foreign shipowners naturally were influenced by the protectionist attitude of the authorities in Sweden, which allowed Swedish citizens to accept considerably lower rates for transport of the same goods. This made foreign vessels stay away from Swedish waters, particularly after 1724, when a decree "on the traffic of foreigners to and from Sweden and Finland" was issued. This so-called product decree (produktplakatet) forbade foreign vessels from bringing other goods than the products of their respective countries. Combined with the so-called differential dues, this decree had the double effect of partly making Swedish cargoes commercially unviable for foreigners and of bringing about a marked rise in the Swedish shipbuilding industry and related outfitting activities (On the product decree, see Heckscher 1935-49,1:2, pp. 670-673 and 675-678. The present ship, however, turned out to be of a date prior to 1724, and therefore this decree had no influence on the prevailing situation.)

The vessel studied here possibly had Stockholm as its home port. The reason for this assumption is that Stockholm had a special position in the Swedish network of staple towns. Partly because of this, the largest Swedish merchantmen were often from the capital. The only staple town north of Stockholm was Gävle (except for a number of towns with limited staple rights which were probably of no major importance in practice). Gävle, however, did not engage in any major export of lumber. On the contrary, it was preferred lea to export timber from Norrland via Stockholm (Högberg 1969, p. 108).

It thus appeared probable that the court concerned with any possible legal conflict that might have emerged in connection with the loss of the ship at Dalarö would have been the City Court of Stockholm. It was more than probable for such a conflict to arise in this connection, and it appeared cornpletely justified to assume that proceedings had occurred, for instance between the owners of the large and costly vessel and the person or persons responsible for its loss. A hypothesis can always be tested and rejected if seen to be unsuitable, and an unproven assumption was at issue here. Whether such proceedings had occurred and accordingly recorded could hardly be established except by noting that the records themselves had been preserved.

The court records

The search for documents of the above nature was begun in the Municipal Archives of Stockholm by going through the minutes of the city court for the year 1708, i.e. the same year as indicated by the dendrochronological datings.

Initially, this search led to no results, but the register of judgments and rulings for 1709, the following year, revealed detailed notes of a testimony shedding light on a fire on the Swedish flute-ship Anna Maria of Stockholm (Stockholm Municipal Court, criminal case records, 6 May 1709 [Stockholms RR, kriminalprot. Maj 1709]). The ship had wintered at Dalarö off Stockholm because the ice in the archipelago of Stockholm had prevented her from continuing her voyage to Portugal begun in the late autumn of 1708. The fact that the vessel was en route to Lisbon with its cargo appears in a Latin sea certificate found in the National Archives (Kommerskollegium, huvudarkivet; koncept till sjöpass 1700-1710, B II b: vol. 12).

The adverse weather affected not only the Anna Maria. The great amount of ice was also the reason why a number of other vessels were similarly forced to discontinue their voyages and remain at anchor at Dalarö for the winter.

The other vessels lying in harbour were the Lilljenberg (196 lasts), Svänska Lösen (unknown lastage), Tyghuset (196 lasts) and the Förgylta Freden (208 lasts). The Anna Maria was of 274 lasts (The names of the vessels according to the records of the Stockholm Municipal Court dated 6 May). The lastages are from the Stockholm Magistrate's and Municipal Courts' supplements to maritime expeditions 1706 (Attester till sjöexpeditioner, SSA).

There was thus a small fleet anchored for the winter at Dalarö. Most of the "crew members had been sent home, and only a few men remained on board the Anna Maria to keep watch. The winter of 1708-09 was extremely cold, and the watch crew most probably suffered from the conditions; a fire was kept burning in the galley. One day crew members from a neighbouring ship were offered a meal on the Anna Maria. Afterwards, the visitors and some of the Anna Maria's watch crew went ashore to drink ale, as the ale on board was frozen.

The fire in the galley was possibly left untended despite claims to the contrary by the witnesses when they were interrogated. This was to amount to gross negligence on the wooden vessel, which the shivering crew was to repent. Approximately an hour after the crew members and visitors had gone ashore, someone from the Anna Maria came to the inn to inform that the vessel was in flames. Nothing could be done at that stage, especially since water was scarcely available because of the freezing weather. There were attempts to put out the fire with the help of the local customs officials, but the results these efforts can be seen on the bottom of Dalarö Bay (Stockholm Municipal Court records [krimin. protok.] 6 May 1709). The vessel sank in 18-22 metres of water. Released from the grip of the ice, the ship was drawn under by the weight of its cargo. The Anna Maria was carrying bar iron, steel and copper placed under the lumber in the hold.

Despite this information already being available, it was necessary to prove that the flute-ship Anna Maria of Stockholm and the unidentified wreck on the sea-bottom off Dalarö were in fact the same vessel before drawing any definite conclusions that the court records pointed to the wreck at Dalarö that was being studied.

Before discussing this point, the extract from the court records is given in toto:


The court has been presented with an investigation report submitted by the municipal chamber court, from which it has come to its knowledge how the ship Anna Maria came to burn in the harbour of Dalarö on the 6th of February last year and the Councillors appointed and authorized by His Royal Majesty to administer justice have on the 22nd of the same month resolved that this matter shall be investigated and judged in this city, whereupon Messrs shipowners have enjoined Advocate Johan Hierppe to attend said investigation.

Seaman Philip Bewe related that on the day that the fire broke out in the evening all who were on board held their customary morning prayers and then lit a fire in the galley where they cooked herring and heated porridge, and sat down to eat; and since Bewe had been with his ship-mates for a meal on the ship Tyghuset he invited these persons to eat on the Anna Maria, these being the cook of the Tyghuset, the son of the master of the same ship, steward Olow of the Swenska Lösn, the cook of the ship Lilljenberg and seaman Johan Anderson Tång. Bewe sent for a quarter of spirits and five biscuits, which all present consumed and during the meal drank only one tankard of ship's ale. After the meal Bewe and two or three of the rest of the party began to shave each other, while the others smoked and waited. At 3 p. m. Bewe and the persons named here went ashore to the widow of the customs official Åman, who lives some two musket-shot lengths from the anchorage, leaving seamen Erich Ersson, Carl Sigfridsson, Petter Simonsson and, Daniel Hindrichsson on board. Bewe is said to have urged them to keep close watch on the fire, after which he was no longer on board before he heard shouts that the ship was on fire. Upon returning to the ship, he saw that the fire had reached the firewood stored between the cabin and the mizzen mast approximately 3 to 4 feet from the galley. Thick smoke issued from there, and although they did their utmost to extinguish the fire their efforts were to no avail, since the fire had already gained the upper hand.

Seaman Erich Ersson related that he and Carl Sigfridsson went ashore to eat since visitors were to come there and they could not afford to join in the meal on board; but after the meal they went on board again and after being on board for around one-and-a-quarter hours and after Bewe and his party had left, they too had gone ashore, since they had no ale on board, and went to drink ale at the inn, & where they remained for an hour or more, whereupon they heard shouts that the vessel was on fire and upon coming to the vessel, all they could see was that the fire had taken hold aft of the galley. Carl Sigfridson attested to this account.

Seaman Petter Simonson related that after having eaten breakfast in the morning he had gone ashore and had returned around dinner time. He had not eaten with Bewe and the visitors, but after they left he heated some dried fish and ate, whereupon Simonson remained on board while the cook's mate Daniel Hinderson washed the dishes, during which time Simonson kept an eye on the fire and raked ash over glowing embers in the stove. Subsequently, he and Daniel went ashore to drink a round of ale, since the ale on board was frozen and after having been in the inn for about an hour they heard shouts that the ship was on fire, where-upon they immediately ran to the ship, but could not do anything, since the fire had taken the upper hand. Simonson claimed that he did not know how the fire broke out, but suggested that since a strong fire was kept in the galley that day, the heat may have passed to the walls and ignited them.

Cook's mate Daniel Hindricson related that since Bewe had invited visitors to dine on board, he had cooked some fresh meat, and that after the meal while Philip Bewe and the cook and the son of the master of the Tygbuset shaved, the others smoked, after which Bewe and the others went ashore. Following this, possibly around 3 P. m. the other members of the crew had some dried fish heated, which they ate, after which Carl Sigfridsson and Erik Ersson went ashore first, while Daniel Hinderson and Petter Simonson remained on board for about an hour, during which time Daniel washed the dishes and raked the ashes over the embers before leaving the ship. After they had been in the inn for an hour, they heard shouts of fire, and upon returning to the ship they found that the fire had taken to the pile of firewood and that thick smoke rose when they lifted the aft hatchway.

Furthermore, ship's master Hindrich Kalf and ship's mate Fredric Palke duly gave their testimony. Kalf attested that since he and Palke were at the time keeping watch over the ships at anchor, they ordered two men to keep watch around 6 to 7 p.m., these being Seaman Hindrich from Kalf s ship and two men from the ship Förgyldte Freden, who together with Kalf and Palke walked on patrol around the whole fleet at anchor. At 7 p. m. they went inside to eat and when they went out again to walk another round and came to the ship Tyghuset, being the second ship from the Anna Maria, they smelt smoke. They approached the Anna Maria, where no-one was on board. As the smoke rose aft of the galley, Kalf overturned the galley funnel, seeing the galley full of smoke, whereupon he ran to the inn to inform thereof and to ask for help to extinguish the fire, but since the fire had grown too strong, it could not be put out. Ship's mate Fredrich Palke attested in all respects to this account upon giving the oath of witness.

Advocate Hierpe, on behalf of the shipowners, pointed out that since the ship was Iost because of the negligence and carelessness of the crewmen, they are to be lawfully punished for their actions.

Merchants johan Burginan and Elias Forsberg have interceded before the court on behalf of said crewmen, pointing out that they should not be condemned to anything that will bring them to dishonour and shame, but should not remain unpunished and should be condemned to imprisonment on bread and water or jsimilar punishment.

The shipowners have submitted to the above-mentioned Mr Johan Hierpe a statement, where by he, on behalf of all the shipowners concerned, applies to this that it shall condemn said crewmen to an arbitrary punishment, since they are completely unable to recompense the damage financially. The owners do not desire to force upon them any punishment applying to their life or honour. And since Their Excellencies Messrs Councillors duly appointed and authorized by His Royal Majesty to administer justice have in their Resolution of 28 April last year seen fit to give the Burgomaster and Council free hands to lay down an arbitrary punishment on these crewmen, which they shall adjudge in view of the nature of the case at hand, and which can serve as an example to others, the Court has taken this case to be resolved and lays down the following judgment.

Insofar as the investigation in this case shows that the crewmen of the ship Anna Maria, Philip Bewe, Erich Erson, Carl Sigfridson, Petter Simonson and Daniel Hinderson, who had been instructed by the master Lennart Rix of said ship, anchored for the winter at Dalarö, to take good care of it and keep close watch over it, had not done so, but had completely neglected their task, having all five gone ashore, viz. Philip Bewe, followed by Erich Ersson and Carl Sigfridsson, and thereupon by Petter Simonsson and Daniel Hindersson, in whose absence the ship caught fire and could no longer be extinguished but was burnt and lost, the Court rules that the three who first left the vessel, viz. Philip Bewe, Erich Ersson and Carl Sigfredson shall serve four days' imprisonment on bread and water, and that the two who later left the ship completely unwatched are to serve eight days' imprisonment on bread and water.

There was now a hypothesis concerning the identity of the wreck which seemed plausible, but it was still unproven. Nothing, however, had emerged that could suggest that it was mistaken. it was still necessary to test the hypothesis in a series of different situations. Proof required that the six physical characteristics of the wreck, as described above, were in no way contradicted by the archival material. In other words, the main dimensions, the damage caused to by fire, the material, the construction of the hull, the composition of the cargo etc. were to correspond, within reason, to the information available in archives.

The result of the dendrochronological analysis of the cargo could be used as a kind of key to the large archival collections. This key, however, provided only an approximate and rough idea of the date when the vessel was lost, but it made it possible to eliminate a great deal, of archival material on record in Stockholm.

Historically and archaeologically, it is fortunate that a dense network of bureaucratic decrees and regulations existed in 18th-century Sweden. A great deal of superficially insignificant facts can namely be sought with the help of written material and records that were produced in compliance with these decrees. The facts themselves are mostly uninteresting, but the bureaucratic procedures which they led to often reveal details which are quite useful to the researcher: partial answers to the difficult questions of how people managed their daily lives and how their struggle for survival actually proceeded in the shorter temporal perspective dealt with by post-medieval archaeology.

Legislation concerning seafaring and trade was possibly more developed than in other areas of society in the 17th and 18th centuries, the reason being that these two sectors were of particular interest to those who shaped mercantilistic policies. The reader is referred to the compilation of 17th and 18th century decrees and regulations on seafaring given at the end of this book.

In the case of the Anna Maria, the number of individual documents and related records, in weighing books etc., is particularly large. All of these are due to one or other decree or regulation. This was mainly because the Anna Maria was one of the largest and most important ships in the Swedish merchant fleet of the period.

Written sources

Seven different types of documents were used:

  1. The weighing records of the City of Stockholm for the years 1697, 1702, 1704 and 1706-08 (SRA)

  2. Supplements to Maritime Expeditions (Attester till sjöexpeditioner) from the years 1694-95, 1697, 1701-04, 1706 (SSA)

  3. Sea Certificates in Latin for the year 1708 (Board of Commerce and Trade, main archives, sea certificate drafts 1708, B II b:12, RA)

  4. Crew lists (Skeppsprotokoll 1708, SSA)

  5. Criminal caee records of the Stockholm Municipal Court, 6 May 1709 (SSA) and the investigation records of the kämner court, 19 March 1709 (SSA)

  6. Diplomatic correspondence, reports from the Swedish Minister in Portugal, 1697 (Diplomatica, Portugallica, Vol. 14, SRA)

  7. The Amsterdam Notarial Archives (Gemeentearchief, Amsterdam). Excerpts of minutes from the archives of Notary Adrian van Zanten, 29 November 1694.

During the 17th and 18th centuries owners of Swedish merchant vessels were subject to a great many bureaucratic decrees. One of them concerned regulations for obtaining permission to travel abroad, as discussed in detail in Chapter 4, page 78. Most of the archives of the staple towns contain copies of certificates issued by municipal authorities and stating that a certain vessel is from a certain town, and in this connection the vessels main dimensions, owners, place of construction and intended voyage are given. The Stockholm City Archives contains documents of this nature pertaining to the flute-ship Anna Maria, along with a great number of similar documents on other vessels. To obtain the year when the ship was built, it was now necessary to proceed backwards from the year 1709, when the ship was lost, to the first mention of the Anna Maria in documents. The facts that the certificate was usually valid for only one year at a time, and that the required documentary attestations were mostly repeated yearly, naturally facilitated archival studies. in the case of the Anna Maria the applications and annexed material could be followed as far back as 1694, the first year that the ship is mentioned. The material showed that the Anna Maria had been commissioned and built in the previous year in Amsterdam for a consortium of 15 Swedish shipowners of Stockholm (letters to the owners of the Anna Maria, dated 11 November and 6 March 1693, from Abraham Kromhuijsen of Amsterdam (Attester till sjöexpeditioner, M och RR, SSA).

Fig 18. A Swedish flute-ship, drawn by Jacob Hägg.

The vessel in fact turned out to be a flute-ship of the Dutch type. The rounded forms characteristic of this type of vessel had been observed by divers in the early stages of investigating the wreck. Among the appendices to the applications for a certificate of nationality (charter) were excerpts of correpondence between the Swedish owners and a Dutch merchant known as Abraham Kromhuiisen or Cromhuijsen. The latter was an agent for the Swedes, arranging contacts between them and the Dutch shipbuilders. The notary archives of Amsterdam contain a declaration by Krombuijsen to the Dutch authorities concerning the building of the vessel. (This declaration was specifically given to Notary Adrian van Zanten in Amsterdam on 29 November 1694. Written communication to the author from the Gemeentearchief of Amsterdam, 13 May 1987.) In this document Kromhuijsen declares having completed and outfitted a flute-ship of the name Juffrouw Anna Maria, which had been delivered to him, by the master-shipbuilders Andries and Jacob Borst of Amsterdam (The prefix of the name, the Dutch word "juffrouw" or "Maiden" was dropped by the Swedes at an early stage, and only the latter part remained in use). The master-shipbuilders, in turn, had given their declaration to the Notary on the same day, giving as the ship's length 132 feet and 28 1/2 feet as its width (i.e. Amsterdam feet of 28.21 cm). Owing to the damage caused by fire, neither the length nor width of the wreck precisely corresponds to these measurements, but the observed differences are insignificant. The width of the main deck is given as 12 3/4 feet (359.6 cm), and that of the upper deck as 6 3/4 feet (190.4 cm).

Verification with reference to damage caused to the wreck by fire

In view of the connection between the Saltskutan (Salt Ship) wreck off Dalarö and the ship known as the Anna Maria in written sources, it is interesting to note that both suffered the same kind of fire. The testimonies of witnesses leave no doubt that the fire on the Anna Maria began aft. The same can be observed by anyone who views the wreck. No coins or other datable artefacts have been found. The dating of the wreck relies solely on dendrochronology, and its connections.

The ship: material and construction

It can be shown that the material and type of construction which archival sources note having been used in the Anna Maria are in complete agreement with those of the Dalarö wreck. This data is given in the vessel's certificate of nationality, measurement records, charter and other documents. During the 18th century almost all larger Swedish vessels, both civilian and military, were made of oak. This was partly because vessels that could serve military purposes were offered certain reductions of customs rates. The customs regulations of 1645 laid down that every merchant vessel made by a Swedish builder and in Swedish, ownership was entitled to a one-sixth reduction of the normal customs rate (halvfrihet). it was also laid down that if such a vessel can be converted into a warship, is carvel-built and could be fitted with a certain number of cannons, the reduction of the customs rate could be as much as one third (helfri) (Heckscher 1935-49, L2, p. 676).

The archives of the Board of Commerce and Trade in the Swedish National Archives (Riksarkivet) contain a list of all merchant vessels of Stockholm which could be regarded as capable of serving as warships in 1708 (Board of Trade and Commerce, Maritime Certificate Office, register and notes on vessels registered in Stockholm, Swedish National Archives) (Kommetskollegium, sjöpassexpeditionen, Liggare och förteckningar över Stockholms fartyg 1708, RA). The Anna Maria was included among these vessels, and the entries concerning her mention that she was carvel-built, of oak and with a lastage of 274. She was also regarded as built to carry guns and a crew of 22. Similar information is found in a variety of documents: sea certificates, measurement records, certificates issued by the Stockholm Municipal Court etc.

The fact that the Anna Maria had been built abroad possibly implied that she was not entitled to the full reduction of customs rates. However, the list of vessels of Stockholm that could be converted into men-of-war notes specifically that the Anna Maria was entitled to the full reduction of the customs rate (helfri). Vessels of this kind, however, were not used as warships during the Great Northern War (communication by Docent Jan Glete of Stockholm University).

In the case of the Anna Maria we may add that one of her principal owners, Claes Wittmach, was the director of the Tar Company (Tjärukompaniet) one of Sweden's major state trading companies with special privilege's (Heckscher 1935-49,11:2, p. 598). Olof Hansson Tbrne, another of the owners, was Burgomaster of Stockholm. The social status of the owners in the authoritarian society of early 18th-century Sweden may have influenced the authorities in their decisions concerning the customs rates applying to the vessel. The names of the owners, their shares, national origin and occupation are given in the table below. This data is from documents related to applications of certificates of nationality when the ship was built and during its first years.

The reason why the Anna Maria was commissioned to be built abroad remains obscure. The owners mentioned above had previously commissioned at least the merchant vessel Tre Kronor, which was apparently of roughly the same size as the Anna Maria. This vessel was also built in Holland (Letter from Sophonias Kröger to Abraharn Crornhuysen in Amsterdam, 11 November 1693, Attester till sjöexpeditioner, Handelskollegium, SSA) But why the order was made abroad is not known. Vessels of this size and even larger ones that were built in Sweden are known from this period (Hall 1963, p. 75 et seqq.).

Share % 
Olof Hansson Törne   6.25 Swedish burgomaster
Erik Boy  12.5   Swedish town councillor
Claes Wittmach 12.5   Swedish director of the Tar Company
Joh. Roselius 12.5   Swedish merchant
Herman Dassau    6.5   Swedish merchant
Erik Forsman  12.5   Swedish merchant
Roland Eliasson    6.5   Swedish trader
Dr. Anders Vallant    3.12 Dutch physician
Sophonias Kröger 12.5   German trader
J Corneliussen    3.12 Dutch ship's master, burgher of Stockholm

Table 7. The owners of the Anna Maria: shares, nationality and occupation

The cargo

The sea-certificate archives in the Swedish National Archives revealed a list of the cargo carried by the Anna Maria in the fateful autumn of 1708, when the intended voyage to Lisbon ended at Dalarö (Kommerskollegium, Sjöpassarkivet, koncept till sjöpass 1708, B 11 b: 12 RA). As described above, the sea certificates were in Latin in the early 18th century so that foreign harbour officials could read them.

The excavation of the hold has not been completed, and therefore the following information on its contents must be regarded as preliminary. The certificate of nationality (the sea certificate in Latin) contained not only the name of the master and owners but also a list of the cargo on the voyage to Lisbon, which was never completed: (data based on the sea certificate in Latin in the Main Archives of the Board of Trade and Commerce [Kommerskollegium, Huvudarkivet, koncept till sjöpass 10 oktober 1708, B 11 b: 12, RA] and information drawn up by Mr Nils Björkenstam, MSc (Eng.), and kindly supplied by letter to the author, 3 June 1987).

SAWN GOODS: 848 dozen sawn pine planks
COPPER PLATE: 46 pcs, original weight 1360 kg
BAR IRON: Weight 116,239 kg
STEEL: Probably so-called blister steel packed in casks; total weight 925 kg.

So far, only three of the four groups of products have been discovered, viz. sawn goods, copper and steel. The iron has apparently corroded to such a degree that only traces of it remain. Only four of the steel casks have been recovered, but at least 10 have been noted at the bottom of the hold. The recovered sheets of copper plate are between 0.5 and 1.55 mm thick and are mostly rolled, possibly to facilitate transport. The rolls weigh approximately 3 kg each. As a rule, the copper is badly corroded. The only goods mentioned in the certificate but not discovered is the bar iron. It has most probably corroded completely. This was probably caused by the fact that the iron was iron loaded at the very bottom of the hold in order to lower the centre of gravity.

It is not out of the question that some of the iron was salvaged after the fire, but there is no way to establish the fact. It can only be said that under normal circumstances a load of 116 tonnes of iron would have been too valuable to have been abandoned. However, almost all men capable of work were at war in the summer of 1709, and most of those who remained at home for some reason were needed on the farms. It may not have been easy to obtain labour for a salvage operation, if prisoners or war or soldiers were not available.

On the other hand it should be mentioned that the modern divers have reported that the bottom of the wreck was covered with a hard substance resembling concrete, which forms when iron oxidizes under water. The same substance has been observed at a hole in the side of the ship near the bow.

These observations may suggest that there are still large amounts of oxidized iron on board.

Fig. 19. Copper plate from the cargo of the Anna Maria which was laid into a roll, apparently to facilitate transport to Lisbon.

In 1698 the Anna Maria was expected back from the salt port of Torre de la Matta in Eastern Spain but she was delayed because of an incident with a Turkish pirate vessel, as described in correspondence between the Swedish Embassy in Lisbon and the authorities responsible for foreign affairs in Stockholm. The Anna Maria, and another Swedish merchant vessel the Stora Christoffer of Karlskrona, had been attacked by North African pirates. The Embassy reported that she "defended herself bravely against two large Turks who dishonourably turned tail". As a result of this incident, Jürgen Corneliussen, the Captain of the Anna Maria, was wounded so gravely that he died in Cadiz (Ahlström 1988; SRA, Diplomatica, Portugallica vol. 14, report by Nicolas Simons to Stockholm, 16 December 1697).

Christian Ahlström

Abbreviations used: RA=Riksarkivet (National Archives), SSA=Stockholms stadsarkiv (Stockholm Municipal Archives).
The list of references is in the book "Looking for Leads", publsihed by The Finnish Academy of Science and Letters, Mariankatu 5, FIN-00170 Helsinki, Finland. All text © Christian Ahlström. Published on Nordic Underwater Archaeology in 1999.

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