Archeologists have found a shipwreck from the late 1300s buried in the mud of a bay in central Stockholm, officials said Thursday.
They are now awaiting permission to excavate the wreckage — one of the oldest ever found in the Swedish capital — hoping it will shed light on shipbuilding techniques and trade in the 14th century.
Experts say they might be able to bring the ship up on land, as was done with the 17th century warship Vasa, which is now housed in a museum that is one of Stockholm's main tourist attractions.
Archeologists found it last year when examining the planned site for a new train tunnel. They have now dated the ship to between 1350 and 1370, and believe it sank sometime in the 1390s.
"This is really exciting," said Marcus Hjulhammar, project leader for the museum.
"What is so special is that it is under water, here in Stockholm," he said. "That makes it much more likely that it is well-preserved than if it had been on land."
Shipwrecks have a decent chance of being well-preserved in the low-salt waters of the Stockholm archipelago because of the lack of wood-eating shipworms.
If the entire ship — the size and type of which are unclear — is still intact, its cargo could give historians a better idea of trading that took place in the area at the time.
There is a large crack in the hull, which had been covered by a piece of leather that had been nailed to the boards, Hjulhammar said.
"That is a sign that this ship was very worn down, and it is possible that this repair work is part of the reason it sank," he said. "My spontaneous reaction was that the repair was rather clumsily done."
The museum is awaiting permission from the county government to dig out the remaining parts of the ship, Hjulhammar said. They would then decide whether it is possible to bring it up on land.
"But it depends on how eroded it is," he said. "It may turn out that it is better to let her lie."