The Naval Frigate Birger Jarl

Circumstances of the find

To begin with, it must be pointed out that the research described here does not directly rely on the civil judicial-administrative framework as described in chapters 1-4 in the book, which provides the background for the case studies discussed in the other chapters of the book.

Archival material describing the loss of a man-of-war must naturally be first sought in military or naval collections. This chapter, however, demonstrates clearly how an apparently insignificant artefact can lead the researcher to the necessary sources that it is called for to include it in this book, even though the problems concerned differ somewhat from the rest of the cases discussed here. The loss of the frigate during the Napoleonic Wars – the core question of this chapter – occurred in international waters, but the vessel was a Swedish man-of-war and most of the research concerning it was carried out in Swedish archives and research libraries, and therefore I see no obstacle to it being included among the vessels discussed in this book.

On September 25, 1974 a Danish trawler in the Bay of Fakse close to the south-east coast of Sealand made an unwelcome catch. A large length of timber, being a long coarsely made part of a wooden construction, was lifted from the sea bottom. It appeared to belong to the remains of the wreck of a wooden ship (The trawler Skawbank reported, via port master K. J. Nielsen, to the Museum of Köge that it had caught in its trawl a ship's timber from a depth of 25-26 metres. The find had been taken ashore to Köge (Schou-Hansen 1976, p. 2). The matter was given into the charge of Ole Crumlin-Pedersen of the Laboratory of Naval History who was to investigate the length of timber a few days later.

Fig. 20. In late May 1813, during the Napoleonic Wars, the Swedish naval frigate Birger Jarl sank at a point ca. 12 nautical miles NE of the Danish island of Möen, in the Bay of Fakse. The captain, the first lieutenant and the Finnish military catiographer Julius Hagelstam along with a few others were rescued and taken care of by the Danish coastal forces.

The following was noted when the find was investigated:

It appeared to be the central, vertical part of the sternpost of a middlesized carvel-built vessel with a stern construction of the type shown in Fig. 25.

The timber was 5.35 metres long and 30 cm wide in its upper part, being 25 cm wide at its lower end. Pressed into the surface laid against the upper side of the keel was a metal button. On the reverse side, the button had a round leather piece with an incision through which the metal loop passed, to which the button was attached. The metal loop had been pressed into the timber (Schou-Hansen 1976, p. 2). The depth scale marked with metal plates at one-foot intervals along the sternpost showed that the vessel's draught was only around 3 metres, which caused much surprise. It was regarded that a vessel of such size would have had a clearly greater draught. There was something about the sternpost from the Bay of Fakse which did not correspond to the normal rules of vessel construction.

The Danish experts, however, had begun investigations to find possible documents concerning the vessel in the archives of Copenhagen.

Reports from Danish archives

The Danish reports and studies of both material and written sources deserve more attention than is given here. They are referred to here only insofar as they permit the reader to follow the course of the investigations, which began in Denmark, the first stages being conducted by Danish researchers. These studies were then complemented in Swedish archives, research libraries and museums by the present author.

The first document relating to the case that was found by the Danish researcher Jens Frio Schou-Hansen in the Danish National Archives in Copenhagen was a letter sent in May 1813 by Captain Hummel, commandant of the coastal fort of Köge on the island of Möen, to his superiors at the admiralty in Copenhagen. Hummel related that a Swedish frigate known as the Billiard had been lost off Höiemöen. Upon receiving this information he had immediately dispatched Second-Lieutenant Bang to obtain further details and offer all assistance possible. Bang reported the following:

The name of the frigate was the Billard. It was five years old and had a crew of 173. The commander of the vessel, Captain Hielmstjerna, Second Officer Lieutenant Nyeberg, Major Hagelström and six of the crew had escaped on the dinghy: the ship had been en route from Karlskrona with orders to join the Swedish ship-of the-line Gustav III between Stevn and Dragöe in order to transfer Major Hagelström and some of the crew on board the latter; from there the frigate was to sail to Malmö (Sweden) to raise its complement to 300 men and thence to Pomerania together with a number of transport vessels. The ship had left Karlskrona on the 26th (of April). Throughout the night of the 27th she had leaked to such a degree that by morning all attempts to stop the leak were in vain. Then the mizzen mast was cut down to make the vessel fall off with the intention of putting her ashore, but suddenly the water had risen to the gun deck and she sank. The officers assumed that the reason for the loss was that a plank had come loose when the vessel ran aground when being kedged out of the harbour of Karlskrona. The frigate carried supplies for 2 months and 200 Swedish centners (8500 kg) of powder. The officers assume that no more was salvaged. The frigate is at a position approximately 1 3/4 nautical miles southeast of Stevns, which is hereby humbly notified.

Copenhagen 30 April 1813.

Several other documents concerning the same matter were also found in the Danish archives. Only one of them will be referred to here; the others mainly repeat the same information (Danish National Archives, maritime matters and commissariat, 29 April 1813 [Rigsarkivet, söetaten og commissariatet, 29 april 1813].):

First Lieutenant Lund reports having been notified by Captain Hummel on Möen that on the 27th inst. at 8 a. m. a frigate was sighted, assumed to be a naval frigate. The vessel appeared from the south on a northward course. At roughly 9.15 midway between Stevns and Falsterbo one of its masts went overboard and the ship sank with crew and all. Two of the masts could be seen above the water from the tops upwards. Second Lieutenant Grove was immediately dispatched to rescue, any members of the crew who may have taken refuge on the mast-heads, and to establish the position where the ship sank; which is hereby humbly notified.

Copenhagen 29 April 1813

The Danish researchers were not willing to continue their investigations in archives outside their own country. Accordingly the present author was requested to continue the work, as the Swedish National Maritime Museum (SSHM) could not find any information on a warship known as the Billard. There was indeed nothing strange about this, since there was apparently no major vessel named Billard, as mistakenly mentioned in the report of Second-Lieutenant Bang, on 30 April 1813, in the Swedish fleet of the time.

Fig. 21. Loss of the Swedish frigate. The drawing was possibly executed by Julius Ragelstam, a Finnish cartographer in Swedish military service who was on the fateful voyage. The mizzen-mast of the ship is drawn with a dotted line, because at this point it had been cut by the crew in desperate attempts to make the sinking vessel turn towards land. The small jolly-boat, in which the survivors escaped, was attached to the sinking ship with a painter and was almost drawn down into the depths (source: Svaneholms slottsmuseum, Skurup, Sweden. Photo by H. Sernert).

The button find

The metal button which was pressed between facing surfaces of the sternpost and the keel was possibly placed there on purpose in connection with some unknown ship-building tradition, similar to placing a coin minted during the year of construction under the mast of vessel. The button was to prove to be a very important artefact for research purposes, being of the type previously mentioned (Fig. 22). Finds of this kind can lead the researcher who interprets them correctly to archives with written sources containing information essential to interpreting the material.

The button was of the following dimensions:

Fig. 22. A metal button (left) was found pressed into the woodwork of a floating part of an ancient ship, discovered by a trawler in 1974. In the view of experts the button had belonged to a historical Swedish uniform. The author was able to find a similar button in a museum in Stockholm, which resulted in a positive identification of the ship. This was possible despite the fact that, following a misunderstanding in the historical past, the sunken ship was at first known under the wrong name.

The button was of brass and bore an emblem with three crowns and an anchor. Its appearance suggested that it had belonged to a Swedish naval officer's uniform of the type that was in use in 1808 (A. Eklöf-B. Somreum-W. Wahrenberg 1981, P. 34, no. 2). Similar buttons are found on a uniform in the Swedish Maritime History Museum. This uniform was worn by an officer of the Archipelago Fleet in 1808 (see Fig. 22, SSHM, inventory Ö. 1920). All this suggested that the button and the sternpost were of the same Swedish origin. Naturally, this was only a hypothesis, which, like all others, had to be checked. But in any case the button provided a lead that could be followed, at least for the time being. The discovery of an object with an anchor motif in a maritime archaeological context comes as no surprise, but to observe that the old Swedish national emblem of the three crowns is in some way associated with the object naturally suggest a search among Swedish sources. In an unpublished study, the Danish marine architect Mårten Götche (1974, p. 14) assumes that the button was of a type in use as early as 1793, being worn by the shipbuilding corps of the fleet. According to A. Eklöf - B. Somreus - W. Wahrenberg (1981, p. 34), the anchor emblem had been used in the buttons of officers uniforms since 1775. A miniature portrait of Admiral Gustaf Klint as a young officer depicts similar buttons (Schou-Hansen 1976, p. 2).

Fig. 23. Uniforms of Swedish naval officers of 1808 (inventory number Ö. 1920, SSHM). These uniforms had buttons identical to the one found pressed into the woodwork salvaged by a Danish trawler.

Admiral Klint was born in 1771 and saw active service with the fleet 1788-1790 during the Russo-Swedish war. He had the rank of flag officer in 1814 in the war against Norway. Klint was also a leading cartographer of his day, publishing between 1797 and 1820 the Sveriges sjöatlas ("Swedish Sea Atlas"), an important cartographical work. Gustaf Klint died in 1840. The studies that had been carried out in the Danish archives had provided satisfactory results that offered a good basis for continued research in Swedish archives. However, information on the name of the vessel and of certain officers was incorrect and initially misleading.

The political situation in northern Europe towards the end of the Napoelonic Wars

In a previous chapter (in the book) I have underlined the importance of a thorough analysis of the historical situation of the period concerned. The following is an outline of the situation in the southern Baltic regions in May 1813. Obviously, this cannot be a detailed historical analysis; such must be left to those who are more qualified in military history. Moreover, a discussion of that kind would go beyond the aims of the present study. My intention is only to point to certain features of the situation in 1813, which can provide a better understanding of the historical background of the loss of the Birger Jarl.

As is well known, the Napoleonic Wars neared their final stages in the spring of 1813, and military activity in northern Europe was still lively. Although there were no major naval encounters in the region, all the neighbouring countries were alert, Sweden by no means least, having rejected neutrality and now belonging to the anti-Napoleonic alliance. Denmark had been forced to join the Empire's allies. The Crown Prince of Sweden at the time was Napoleon's former marshal, jean Baptiste Bernadotte (later crowned as King Charles XIV Johan of Sweden), who broke relations with Napoleon while the King Charles XIII, brother of Gustavus III, still reigned in Sweden. Leading a Swedish army, the Crown Prince had journeyed to North Germany to go to war against Napoleon, and the situation was still highly tense. Denmark and Sweden still enjoyed friendly relations in May 1813, despite their belonging to different camps. The war against Norway was not to begin until August 1813. Danzig and a number of other fortified locations on the southeast coast of the Baltic were still in French hands. Contemporary observers no doubt regarded the outcome of this complex situation as highly uncertain. Although the French Emperor now seemed to be in a difficult position, this had been the case on several previous occasions, and no essential changes had come about. Owing to his unbelievable strategic and political skills Napoleon had so far been able to make the best of the situations in which he found himself.

When the Swedish frigate sank and the survivors came ashore in a boat a few hours later, the incident was immediately reported to Copenhagen. The Danish officers responsible wrote to their superiors at the Royal Danish Admiralty, notifying them that a Swedish frigate known as the Billiard had sunk off Köge. A large number of the Swedish crew had drowned in the accident, which had occurred in good weather and without any obvious cause.

An analysis of the overall military-political situation as described in works of military history, indicates that 1813, two years before Napoleon's final downfall, was a critical year in the Baltic region. This was an important context that could provide valuable information. Placing, for the sake of argument, the identification of the sternpost in a broader connection, the following reflections suggest themselves. In view of the situation in Northern Europe in the spring of 1813, the origin of the uniform button, and accordingly the launching of the vessel could be dated five years back from 1813. As already mentioned, the type of button is dated to 1808. One of the Danish reports, provided by Danish researchers, mentions that the mysterious frigate Billiard, which sank in the Bay of Fakse was five years old at the time. Adding five to the date 1808 we clearly obtain the year 1813. It is thus possible that 1808 was also the year when the mysterious frigate was built, assuming at least that the metal button in the sternpost dated from the year of construction. Accordingly, the Danish fortifications officer's observation that the frigate was five years old in 1813 would be correct.

Studies at the Royal War Records Office in Stockholm

Had the sternpost belonged to a Swedish naval vessel, as suggested by the button, the wisest course was to begin studies at the War Records Office (Krigsarkivet) in Stockholm, where most Swedish documents of a military historical nature are kept. This work began in early May 1975.

In 1791 the Swedish Board of the Admiralty had been. dissolved and its functions were taken over by a General Naval Office (Svenskt skeppsbyggeri 1963, P. 168). This body was in turn replaced by a new organization in 1803, the Administration of Maritime Affairs (Förvaltningen för Sjöärendena) (ibid., p. 273). Even if the suggested year of construction proved to be incorrect, it seemed to be called for to study the archives of the latter organization for the years concerned.

In labourious archival investigations of this kind a great deal of effort can be saved by first going through the journal for the year and office concerned. This source lists each incoming document addressed to the government office in question. The journal gives the date of the communication, the name and official position of its author, and a brief summary of the contents of the document. Journals of this kind provide in a relatively short time an overview of the matters dealt with by the office concerned. With luck, it is possible to come across concrete events associated with the vessel concerned and a reference number indicating possibly preserved documents pertaining to the matter (Unfortunately, it rarely occurs that one finds the actual document. In most cases the researcher must make do with the summary given in the journal). The journal studied here was kept at the headquarters of the Army Fleet, Stockholm Squadron, Administration of Maritime Affairs 1813 (FSA 1803-1814, Plenum, Serie B I, Huvudseric. KRA).

The confusion of names

It could be noted at first that there was no entry in the journal in 1813 for a vessel known as the Billard. However, the entries for May and the early summer contain a great deal of information on a sunken frigate known as the Birger Jarl. Furthermore, this naval frigate had sunk in the Bay of Fakse close to Danish waters, which suggested further research to determine whether the names had been confused. It could be seen that so many of the circumstances concerning the frigate Birger Jarl corresponded to the data on the loss of the ship as supplied by Danish researchers that this confusion of names appeared almost certain. The only incorrect information was the name of the frigate and those of the second-in-command and the major of the Naval Survey Corps who had been on board. These are given in the Danish documents as Billard, Nyeberg and Hagelström instead of Birger Jarl, Nyström and Hagelstam. The date of the incident, the name of the commander and the site all corresponded, and the mistakes were easily corrected with reference to information from the Swedish War Records Office.

On 6 November 1974 Danish researchers had found on the bottom of the Bay of Fakse a large wreck of the same dimensions and armament as the sunken Swedish frigate (Schou-Hansen 1976, pp. 6 & 60). When the frigate sank it was armed with twenty-two 36-pound cannons and ten 24-pound carronades, as also indicated in the plans of the vessel in the Swedish War Records Office. In this connection it was also possible to solve the problem of the vessel's draught, which appeared to be too small in relation to the length of the sternpost. The Birger Jarl was an artillery-bearing vessel of shallow draught of the hemmema type, a construction which had originally been designed by F. H. af Chapman but which had been rebuilt and modernized after his death. An archipelago frigate of this kind had to have the least possible draught in order to manoeuvre with ease in shallow waters. The problem of the short sternpost originally discovered by the trawler, the shallow draught, appeared to find its solution.

The vessel belonged to a series of four types of naval vessels, each named after a Finnish province: Hämeenmaa (Hemmema), Turunniaa (Turuma), Pohjanmaa (Pojama) and Uusirnaa (Udema). In daily parlance (and also in writing) these types were referred to with corruptions of the names of the landscapes, given here in parentheses. The hemmema Birger Jarl was one of these archipelago frigates. They were all equipped with heavy artillery and they were also oared, which was thought to be of military significance when becalmed.

It appears that the hemmema-vessels were, however, too large and heavy to be manoeuvred even slowly with oars, and the type gradually went out of use (Each oar was worked by 4-5 men. When becalmed, rowing was intended to provide a speed of 2-3 knots, corresponding to 3-5 km/h. Oral communication by Professor Christoffer H. Ericsson of Helsinki).

A study of the reports in Swedish archives (covering the period 1758-1824 in the archives of the Stockholm squadron, Archival register no. 529 b, FSÄ, War Records Office) the following facts could be established:

  1. The correct name of the Swedish frigate was Birger Jarl, not Billard.
  2. The commanding officer was, as assumed by the Danish researchers, Hjelmstierna.
  3. The second-in-command was Lieutenant Nyberg.
  4. The third officer who was saved in the dinghy was Major Hagelstam (not Hagelström as given in the Danish documents).

Fig 24. tackle-plans of the Birger Jarl and her sister ship the Erik Segersäll. From the War Recors Office (Krigsarkivet), Folder 81.

Fig 25. Plans of the hull. From the War Recors Office (Krigsarkivet), Folder 81.

The report to the King

The frigate had sunk on the 28th of April 1813. She appears to have been in the naval harbour of Karlskrona a few days previously, which prompted a search among microfilms of local newspapers that had appeared in May, 1813.

In this connection, a published list of Swedish newspapers and journals pointed to a valuable source of information (despite its age, the list, Bernhard Lundstedt, 1902, Sveriges periodiska litteratur, was particularly useful in this connection). Number 40/1813 of Carlscronas Weckoblad, a local newspaper of the period, mentions a report submitted to King Charles XIII on 1 May 1813 concerning the loss of the Birger Jarl. It contained the following information:

His Royal Majesty has received the following report: Having presented myself for duty at Carlscrona on His Royal Majesty's hemmema frigate the Birger Jarl on the afternoon of 25 April I sailed from there at 7 a. m. the next day to join the ship-of-the-line Gustav III in the Sound as per received orders.

One of the Danish reports mentions that some of the officers on board the Swedish vessel had mentioned that while the frigate was being kedged from the harbour of Karlskrona, she had drifted aground in which connection a plank possibly came loose from the hull. This wrong maneuver is not mentioned in Hjelmstierna's report to the Adjutant-General of King Charles XIII, nor in subsequent reports to the admiral in command of the Stockholm squadron to which the Birger Jarl belonged.

Hjelmstierna's report of 1 May continues:

… on the following day, i.e. 28 April, with the same wind and good weather, viz. an east wind, when I was in the middle of the bight between the island of Möen and the Stevns roads between 6.30 and 6.45 a. m., and also being between the roads and Falsterbo, it was suddenly discovered that water was rising with unbelievable speed in the cable-room and the supply-room. I undertook to reef the top sails and took a course towards Flintrännan. The crew was immediately summoned, the top-sails were left. And upon going down into the hold I found it half submerged. All the pumps and the main pump were taken into use, and firebuckets and tubs were used to empty the water, but despite this, the water rose, and all hope of saving Your Majesty's vessel was lost. Therefore, I regarded it as my final duty to save the crew if possible, whereupon I attempted to run before the wind, but she would not obey the rudder with an ordinary manoeuvre. I was therefore forced to cut down the mizzen mast, and the ship finally fell off and I ran before the wind towards Möen.

(That it was necessary to cut own the mizzen mast is confirmed in the report of the Danish Lieutenant to his superiors.)

Now the upper edges of the gun-ports were submerged. The lashings of the sloop and the long-boat were cut loose, and up to that moment I have to do my unfortunate crew the justice of noting that all my commands were obeyed and order was kept. – The crewmen manning the guns at the pumps did not leave them until the water had risen to half the height of the battery. Now all sought their way amidships to make their escape in the sloop and the long-boat, and at the same moment the prow went under, followed by the quarter-deck one or two seconds later. It was only then that I left this place and went on top of the coach, which a moment later went under.

At the end of his report Captain Hjelmstierna notes that 149 men drowned; the figure was corrected to 159 in the report to his admiral. It appears strange that all the others drowned except the six crewmen and two officers who accompanied Hjelmstierna in the dinghy. It can be assumed that the sloop and the long-boat, which definitely could not hold anything near 159 men, were swamped and sank; but further on in his report Hjelmstierna notes that the frigate's top-gallant masts remained above water level after the vessel had settled on the bottom. There is cause to speculate over the reasons why no one saved himself by holding on to the top-gallant masts. Danish cannon-boats were dispatched to the site to see whether this was the case. To be true, few seamen of the past could swim, and it is quite probable that far less than half of the seamen even had rudimentary swimming skills. But a few seamen who could swim and were strong enough to climb on to the top-gallant masts would certainly have been rescued the next day by the Danish cannon-sloops sent out to rescue any survivors (see below). In any case some 150 skeletons should be found near the wreck.

Hjelmstiema's report continues:

... then I jumped over the stern into the dinghy hanging in the davits and already containing two subalterns and four crewmen as well as Major Hagelstam of the Maritime Survey Corps. We rescued my second-in-command, Second-Lieutenant Nyberg, who was in the water. We could not take on more men without the risk of sinking the dinghy, which was already overloaded. Moreover, the sea began to rise and at a distance of 4 nautical miles from Möen it would certainly not have ridden the waves if there had been more men on board. No more than 20 minutes passed from the discovery of the leak to the sinking of the vessel, for it went under around 7 a.m. As soon as 1 had come ashore and met the Danish duty-officer, we were taken to the small town of Stege, where I requested the local commandant, a Colonel, to send a few gun boats to the site where the hemmema sank, as the top-gallant masts were above water and the site could thus not be missed. But although there was not a strong wind, or sea, the cannon sloops, although ordered to leave at 6 p.m., could not sail until 2 a.m., and when we left Stege the day before yesterday, they had not yet returned.

It can be asked why Hjelmstierna was in such a hurry to leave Stege that he did not remain to hear of the fate of his crewmen. Before the Danish gun boats had returned, he could not know whether or not they had found any survivors. In Copenhagen, Hjelmstierna was received by the Swedish consul, Grahm, who lent him money, and assumedly got Hjelmstierna and his officers presented at the Danish court. The report to the King continues as follows:

A great deal of civility, courtesy and hospitality has been accorded to us. The above-mentioned Colonel at Stege offered me as much money as I needed for myself and the others. I had to take some of the money, as none of us had thetime to think of either the vessel's own till or to rescue anything, which meant that except for the clothes on our backs, we had nothing and for the time being we have lost everything.

Hjelmstierna and those rescued with him later submitted an application to the commanding Admiral in Stockholm for the payment of restitution. The tendency of the period to indulge in dramatic expressions is also present here.

Hjelmstierna concludes his report as follows:

General Byloff, commander of the general staff here, has offered me money and anything else we might need, but I have not yet taken up his offer. We came here yesterday afternoon, and as soon as we obtain clothing we shall travel to Sweden and continue to Stockholm.

Your Majesty! I and those who were rescued have lost everything we own, 149 men died, and all this on a vessel that should have been so strongly built as to withstand a bombardment of 8 to 10 hours with a 36-pounder battery. But now in good weather, a good wind and hardly any seas she sank.

Copenhagen, 1 May 1813
C. Hjelmstierna
Captain of the Army Fleet

With reference to the above, His Royal Majesty has graciously decreed that as soon as the rescued crew of the vessel has arrived here, a thorough and strict investigation shall be initiated to establish all circumstances and reasons which may shed light upon this incident and are possibly to be obtained.

A similar report, addressed to Admiral Victor von Stedingk, Commander of the Stockholm Squadron, is to be found in the War Records Office (Krigsarkivet, Stockholms eskader, eskaderschefens ankomna handlingar 1813 29/4-27/8, E 1, 81). This report, dated 14. May, contains largely the same account of the loss of the vessel as that in the report to the King, the only difference being references to some of the names of the crewmen who drowned on the Birger Jarl. A few later documents in the same volume pertain to reports sent by the members of the commission which had been appointed to investigate the incident.

Captain Hjelmstierna went on to become a Commander and died unmarried in Stockholm in 1830. Major Hagelstam, of Finnish origin, lived until 1870 and followed a long and recognized career as a fortifications officer, cartographer and a member of the Swedish diet.

By this stage, sufficient information on the Birger Jarl had been obtained in order to find its drawings and plans. These were found in the collection Drawings of the Navy together with those of her sister vessel, the Erik Segersäll.

In the meantime the Danish researchers had located the wreck and established that the vessel was armed with twenty-two 36-pound cannons and ten 24-pound carronades (Schou-Hansen 1976, p. 60). This figure corresponds to the drawings in Stockholm. It should also be mentioned that when being sailed from Norrköping, where she was built, to Stockholm in 1809, the frigate ran aground, but this was not recorded in the log (Ellsen 1945, p. 6). In 1812, when sailing from Stockholm to Karlskrona, the Birger Jarl began to leak, with four feet of water accomulating in the hold within two hours. Neither was this recorded in the log (Ellsen 1945).

The presumably only published account of the history of the Birger Jarl is an article by Commander A. Ellsen in the journal Sjövärnsposten (No. 4, Vol. 2, 1945), which Mr Peter von Busch, MA, kindly made available to the author. Unfortunately, the article lacks notes, which leaves the sources of information uncertain. It contains a few illustrations, possibly drawn by Major Hagelstam, who was an eye-witness to the events on board. Further information on the loss of the frigate is most probably available in the archives of the Naval Museum in Karlskrona (folder 159, reports and investigations of wrecks).

The situation at present is that in international waters, close to Danish territorial waters, is the wreck of a large, fully armed and outfitted Swedish naval vessel from the time of the Napoleonic Wars. Around the wreck an possibly in the hull are probably the skeletal remains of 150-160 members of the crew, which are assumedly an interesting subject for osteological studies. This potential marine-archaeological goldmine came to light as the interpretation of what first appeared to be an insignificant find – the vessel's sternpost and a uniform button pressed into it – led to written sources containing essential information.

Christian Ahlström

The entire article and 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 by kind permission on Nordic Underwater Archaeology in 1999.

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