The fluyt ship Anna-Maria lies at the centre of Dalarö’s harbour at a depth of 18 metres. Built in the Dutch style, she is a merchant vessel that sank in 1709. On board the wreck are cargo remains of pine boards, iron and steel. Now the Anna-Maria can be viewed as a 3D model.

Ever since the 1950s, the wreck in Dalarö’s harbour has been well known to locals. The wreck was often referred to as Saltskutan (“Salt Ship”) and was believed to be the remnants of a barge carrying a cargo of salt which sank at the end of the 19th century. Today, Saltskutan’s secret has been revealed. With the help of archaeological documentation and accurate archival studies, the ship has been identified as the fluyt ship Anna-Maria, which sank on 6 February 1709.

The discovery revealed an exciting story about what happened. Anna-Maria, was built upon commission by a group of ship-owners and merchants from Stockholm. The ship made her maiden voyage to Setubal in Portugal, where she was loaded with salt to be shipped to Stockholm.

Anna-Maria locked in ice

In November 1708, she had been loaded with cargo for delivery to Lisbon. But when the ship arrived at Dalarö, she was unable to continue the journey. Because of the unusually cold winter, ice had begun to form and the skipper decided to lay up Anna-Maria for wintering. Five men from the crew remained on board as guards: the able seamen Bewe, Erson,
Sigfredsson and Simonsson as well as the cook, Hindersson. To cope with the harsh cold, the ship’s fireplaces were lit.

The guards’ sole occupation, in addition to seeing to the ship, was sitting at the relatively warm tavern with the other ship guards and drinking cheap beer.

A fatal night at the pub

After morning prayer and breakfast on 6 February 1709, Bewe went ashore to purchase spirits, bread rusks and meat.

The previous day, he had dined with his comrades on another winterized ship. A plan was hatched that Bewe would buy more rounds the following day. After dinner aboard Anna-Maria, the company went to the tavern, which was only “two musket shots away” from the harbour. The four other crew members remained on the ship with instructions to take care with the fire. It did not take long, however, until the four left the ship and joined the others at the tavern.

“Fire!”

After an hour of beer drinking and conversation, cries of “Fire!” were heard from the harbour. The guards from the other ships had detected smoke and alerted those nearby. As the tavern guests raced toward the harbour, they were met by the sight of flames rising from Anna-Maria. A fire was raging in the hold between the cabin and the mizzenmast where firewood was stored, and when the aft hatch was opened thick black smoke billowed out. The guards who discovered the fire had tried to extinguish it, but the ship could not be salvaged. With a crackling hiss, Anna-Maria was swallowed up by the ice.

8 days of water and bread in prison

During the legal proceedings following the fire, the five seamen were considered to have neglected their duty as they all left the ship without supervising the fire. However, the ship-owners of Anna-Maria asked the court not to pass a sentence that would lead to shame or disgrace, but would instead give them a bit of a slap on the wrist. Bewe, Erson and Sigfredsson were sentenced to four days’ imprisonment with only water and bread to eat. Simonsson and Hindersson, who were last to leave the ship, were sentenced to eight days’ imprisonment with water and bread. The punishments were considerably mild relative to the damage caused.

Basic data Anna-Maria

Depth: 13–20 metres
Built: 1694 in Amsterdam
Length: 38 metres
Width: 8 metres
Sank: 1709
Ship type: Fluyt