My Writings. My Thoughts.
After yesterday’s high winds and crashing waves kept us land-based in the afternoon, we feared that a week’s worth of industrious dredging would be obliterated. Not only would the sea greedily reclaim the wreck, but it also threatened to confiscate one dredger and several hoses.
Fortunately, when we arrived at the wreck promptly at 8 am this morning, we found that the majority of the wreck was only covered with a thin layer of sediment. The rudder, which had been discovered yesterday and only barely exposed, was still visible. Even the dredger and hoses were still on the site itself. We, insignificant peons that we are, are mere visitors in this watery environment, and each day we spend exploring the wreck is a gift from the gods of the sea. Except for yesterday afternoon, so far they seem to be benign, perhaps even benevolent. Today, despite the rain, the sea was smooth as a mirror. This facilitated the use of dredgers again, and more recording of the hull planking.
As the number of timbers recorded underwater increases, the amount of work to be done in the evenings also increases. Timber recordings must be transferred from the waterproof paper to timber sheets, and also inputted into the database. Finds must be drawn, labeled, tagged, preserved, and analyzed. These are getting more interesting as we are now more than a week into the field school: today, among other finds and samples, a parrel was brought up.
More and more it appears that the wreck is older than initially thought. The meticulousness of the construction, the extreme thickness of the timbers, and the craftsmanship, all seem to point more towards the fifteenth or sixteenth century.
We seem to be improving in speed and efficiency, as today alone we doubled the number of timbers completed. A baseline was erected, ready for offset drawing on the morrow. That is, if we are again blessed with calm weather and still seas.
By Maggie Logan
Another day, promising as ever, is on the morning horizon of Bagenkop Havn for our team. The day is cloudy and gloomy, well if you live in Denmark enough this is the routine, but the almost absent wind and the flat sea make a perfect diving morning. Carrying, checking, dressings up and jumping in the water are the steps for a smooth day start, with a team of two members dedicated to recording the timbers of the “Angry Crab” wreck” and others two designated to dredging areas, with a specific aim: finding the stern of our ship. Maybe now you are asking why I called the wreck the “Angry Crab”…you need just a day to understand why. The wreck is populated by crabs that you cannot call friendly, well…we are going around their house sticking the nose between sand and timbers, would you not be also mad?
Apart from be careful with the crabs and jellyfish, the morning was going smoothly like planned but no trace of the end post of the “Angry Crab”. At this point the second team took place of the previous team, continuing their tasks. I was assigned to the searching of the end-post which sounds like an impossible mission. Sand, sand everywhere and just a roughly reference of the possible position from the recording taken the last year. Just me, the dredger and an angry crab that was staring at me. After several unsuccessful tries, I dredged in the correct position and there appeared the sternpost whit a beautiful massive rudder near it. The emotion of the moment was so big that I cheered and automatically searched someone to share with my discovery…. There was only one…the crab…that, of course, pointed at me with his claws in a rather impolite manner.
Well, after the successful search and the operative recording team operations, it is time to go back for lunch. And here, despite the quiet morning, a strong wind starts to blow bringing heavy rains and high waves which crash violently on the coast. A quickly change that surprised everyone…maybe also the crew of our wreck?
A forced half day off, since diving is not more possible, not relaxing at all because only a question is whirling now in our heads…will we find the “Angry Crab” covered by the sand again?
See the video on our facebook page!
While our heroic dredgers diligently continue their work to uncover the wreck, the first recording teams went down armed with a bag full of recording goodies and a drawing board.
Recording started in the bow area that was uncovered on the east side and is now progressing to the wreck´s western side. For the moment 6 timbers have been recorded by the rigorous recording teams with many many more to come…
The second day of dredging went smoothly as all the divers are now getting more and more used to handling the dredges. Even though the schedule is tight and everyone is getting tired, the spirit of the team is high. Regarding the wreck, the exciting news was the uncovering of two timbers that seem to be the keel and either the stem or sternpost, and tomorrow we will hopefully start the recording process.
Short impression of our field school wreck during excavation
Day three, finally the whole team gets a taste of what we have been looking for. All ready and set for a full day of dredging underwater and uncovering as much as possible of the timbers. Trying out a dredge for the first time felt rather clumsy, especially when working in pairs where one dredges whilst the other controls the air rush that is gushing out of the hose with the extracted sediment . Things got better in the afternoon as more timbers could be visible and we all got better at handling the dredge.
Many, many thanks go to Søren and his Bagenkop divers, who supported us and helped out with dredging the whole day! Cheers guys! Eight divers on one small wreck shifting sediment must be an unofficial record…
We are also getting a hand of dressing 4 divers in a small boat. With barely any space to maneuver in, we somehow managed to get the divers in the water all geared up and don them the fins. Thankfully the pumps for the dredgers are now on another boat, therefore more space and less noise
The underwater team in the morning had a grand time being blown around underwater by the force of a high pressure lance (the last resort to find our covered wreck, after probing led to no results). It was quite difficult for the petite ladies on the team to handle the powerful tool, even at half-power and even when two were holding it. The aim was to use the lance to blow the sediment away, exposing the wreck. After a morning of making lovely zig-zag patterns right around the sinker, Jens took five minutes with the lance and found the wreck. The lance was switched for the dredger, and little by little more timbers were exposed. Now the field school can start!
Also the land team made a discovery, when in the field right across the Magleby Efterskole 7 anomalies were discovered. The results will be processed in the evening and hopefully this will identify the cause of these anomalies.
Maggie Logan & Alexander Cattrysse
Here we go again, a new summer and a new summer field school, this time on the beautiful island of Langeland in the Danish South Sea. On Sunday morning we packed our bags in Esbjerg and four hours later we arrived in Bagenkop, a small harbor on the tip of Langeland.
We set up camp in the SME, a school specializing in maritime education, which is situated directly at the harbor of Bagenkop. Facilities could not be better: Accommodation in the harbor, sunshine and a wreck right outside the harbor…
A wreck? At this point I hand over to the first student supervisor team:
In the early morning hours the SDU dive team set sail toward the wreck’s GPS location. Various survey techniques were used in the hope to locate the wreck. These were:
- Human sonar
- Free sweeps in a designated search area
- Circular searches around a master buoy which marked the wreck’s GPS position.
Alas, all the effort was in vain and the wreck could not be located. An investigation of the area revealed that due to sediment shift, the wreck is covered in more then 30-40 centimeters of sand. Exhausted but glad to have had the chance to dive, the divers returned to the campus in hope of hearing of more progress on the land site.
On Day One, the land team had no more success in findings than the underwater team. The land team began by making grids in the shadow of Magleby Kirke. After lunch, when the land team grew, another grid was created in the field opposite. So far, no anomalies in the resistivity readings, but only three and a half grids were walked. Maybe tomorrow?
Alexander Cattrysse and Maggie Logan
Undoubtedly one of the great advantages of studying Maritime Archaeology at the SDU is the possibility to develop and gain more experience from little projects alongside the main study programme. With exercising the practical activities, such as diving, measuring, making drawings underwater and dredging, comes the responsibility of planning and managing diving operations, under supervision of our teachers. But the second attempt to find a clinker built shipwreck in Bagenkop was very special for a few of us. This was the first time, when a group of students was asked to hold the task alone.
The group was four students strong and eager to work. The preparation started a few days before leaving to the island of Langeland. After we were given tasks and problems to solve during the trip, we prepared the equipment. Finally the day had come. We hit the road on Wednesday, after class. Three and a half hours drive through the beautiful landscapes of Jylland and Fyn brought us to Bagenkop right after sunset. We were expected in Maritime Efterskole, where our accommodation had been organised. Very hospitable hosts welcomed us with supper. We finished the day with a little walk to the beach and the marina.
We woke up at dawn. The rising sun forecasted nice weather for diving. After breakfast we drove to Rudkobing to pick up a boat and meet Christian Thomsen from Langeland Museum. We came back to Bagenkop, launched the boat and prepared diving equipment. The shipwreck hunt began. The sea was calm and the visibility perfect. First we decided to circulate a bit in the area checking if we could see anything interesting on the bottom. We finally anchored at the place located with the GPS coordinates, that we were given by Christian. The first diver – Dominic, started circular search around sinker poking seabed with a spike. I was sitting in the boat, fully dressed as a standby, when the sun reminded itself, that it was not really present during the summer. I was impatiently waiting to be next in the water. Firstly, because I wanted to be the one who would find the wreck, secondly to cool down. Finally my turn had come. First the crew had moved the sinker to a new place, where I continued the circular search. I found some wood. Unfortunately none of the pieces were worked and the promising long, cylindrical timbers were just branches. At noon we headed back to the harbour, where Christian joined us. The following dives were not prosperous. We moved from place to place hoping for the best. In the afternoon four cylinders with air were emptied and the clinker built shipwreck remained undiscovered.
However good archaeological research is useless if not published. The same way, if maritime archaeology is not popularized there will be no interest in it. That evening we gave a presentation for the students at Maritime Efterskole. Xenius gave a short lecture on maritime archaeology in general. André presented the field school in Germany that took place this summer and I mentioned a few words about the Norwegian one. Christians task was to explain what had brought us to Bagenkop.
The Baltic Sea was very calm the next day. Its’ surface looked like the surface of a lake, and the water was crystal clear. Again we started the day with cruising around hoping that we could spot anything from the surface. We snorkelled probing the seabed with a long pike. Two short dives succeeded with the relocation of the shipwreck found here in August. We sailed back to the harbour, where we met Jens and Bo, who came to Langeland that morning. We discussed what was next, and we decided to focus on the known shipwreck and to stop looking for the mysterious clinker built ship. The aim of the next dives was to gather most information possible e.g. ship orientation, length and width of the site, position, some construction details, how deep under the sediment were the ship, and so on. We dredged, measured, drew for next hours, emptying the last cylinders. We answered all the questions and prepared the site for the first year students who will come to Bagenkop the next summer for their field school.
The project did not only succeed, because we gained new information about the Bagenkop shipwreck, but also because it showed that the way the Maritime Archaeology Programme is designed, prepares students to conduct projects on their own.
Our new master thesis database is now online. We will be adding data to provide a complete overview of master thesis projects at the Maritime Archaeology Programme. Most theses will be available for direct pdf download as well. Check it out here!