30 metres below the water’s surface, near Dalarö in Stockholm’s southern archipelago, divers found a wreck in the spring of 2003. Their discovery triggered a thrilling hunt to identify it. Today it is believed that the wreck is the remains of the ship Bodekull, which sank in 1678. Bodekull is one of the world’s best preserved wrecks from the 17th century. 3D imaging of its remains shows the whole ship.

The divers contacted the Maritime Museum and contributed a collection of salvaged objects, including a wine bottle bearing a seal that was identified as likely being an English noble weapon. The shipwreck was dated using dendrochronology and tree-ring dating. One of the samples showed that the oak was felled after 1643 in Northumberland, England. The other salvaged finds have also been dated to the middle or the second half of the 17th century.

The wreck on the seabed north of Dalarö measures about 20 metres long and is carvel-built (the hull’s planks lie flush rather than overlap). The stern’s design indicates that the ship was built according to English tradition. On the seabed, in front of the heavily bent stem, lies a figurehead depicting a lion. The bowsprit has fallen and lies with its outer end resting on the seabed fore of the hull, while the inner end rests on the bow railing.

Is the Dalarö wreck the ship Bodekull?

Recent research has shown that the Edesön wreck might be the ship Bodekull, which sank in 1678. The ship was built around 1660 as a landing ship intended to be part of a fleet that would invade Denmark. Following the death of King Karl X Gustav in 1660, the invasion plans were abandoned and the newly built ships, including Bodekull, were refitted for other purposes. Bodekull is believed to have served as a cargo ship along the east coast. When she sank, the ship was en route to Kalmar and laden with flour that was ground at Fagerholm’s Mill.

3D reconstruction

In recent years, marine archaeologists at the Maritime Museum have meticulously photographed the entire wreck to allow 3D imaging of its remains. This offers non-divers the opportunity to experience what it’s like to dive on the wreck.

The wreck’s condition

The sides of the hull are severely caved in, meaning that its maximum width is slightly above the waterline. Several deck levels have been observed, including a main deck and a forecastle. The forecastle has completely collapsed and now rests on the main deck. Several household utensils have been found in the area under the forecastle, possibly indicating that the area was used as a living space.

On deck there are two pumps, placed directly aft of the mainmast. Two anchor wheels can be found on the main deck, one a horizontal windlass and one a vertical windlass. There are two gaps in the main deck, a major one between the mainmast and the windlass and a smaller one aft of the mainmast.

The lower mast sections of the mainmast and foremast are in their original positions, and the ship likely had another mast aft, a mizzenmast. The rudder, with the tiller, is pushed all the way to port. On the starboard side are two grindstones and a stack of bricks which might be the remnants of the galley.

 

Basic data, Dalarö wreck/Bodekull

Built 1660
Depth 30 meters
Sank 1678
Lenght 20 meters
Width 5.5 meters
Ship type 
Like a frigate