Casks from Gribshunden (1495) – Dendrochronology of Late Medieval Shipboard Victual Containers

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Wooden casks were used extensively to transport goods in medieval Europe but have been
largely overlooked in Scandinavian marine archaeological studies. We present a study of
casks recovered from the Danish-Norwegian royal flagship Gribshunden, which sank in
the summer of 1495 outside Stora Ekö Island in southeastern Sweden. During
excavations in 2020–2021, archaeologists recovered 135 wooden staves and heads for
dendrochronological analysis. Seventy-nine percent of the samples were successfully
dated and provenanced from seven different timber source areas, predominantly
southeastern Baltic (59%) and Scania (22%). These results suggest the geographical
extent of the late medieval Nordic timber trade. Components from several source areas
were incorporated within individual casks, suggesting staves were bulk goods
transported to production centres for cooperage. The dating results indicate the life span
of medieval casks was just a few years. This study highlights the untapped potential of
wooden casks for a wide range of research fields.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)358-375
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Nautical Archaeology
Issue number2
Early online date2022 Nov 17
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
  • History and Archaeology

Free keywords

  • Marine archaeology
  • dendrochronology
  • shipwreck
  • Baltic Sea
  • medieval


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