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1550 | Maasilinn, Insel Ösel

Das Wrack eines umgebauten Klinkerschiffes bei der Soneburg

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The Maasilinn wreck from the Island of Saaremaa, Estonia, is the earliest so-called “converted clinker” construction known so far. This construction encompasses an ordinary clinker-built shell-first construction, which was later refitted with a second layer of flush-laid planks. Only three comparable wrecks are known from the late 16th / early 17th century, one in German waters i.e. FPL-77 (ca. 1590), and two in Polish waters i.e. W-36 (after 1596) and Dębki (early 17th century). This wreck forms the last case study of my thesis, in which the following aspects are addressed:

  • detailed constructional comparison to other converted clinker constructions, evaluation of the building sequence and some special features, like the bilge-well
  • hypotheses for the addition of the carvel skin, ranging from maintenance & repair and water-tightness, the shallow water environment in which this vessel operated, protection from increased ice-drift with the beginning of the Little Ice Age, or a prestige-biased transmission
  • the historical site context of the castle of Soneburg and its harbour, in which this wreck was discovered, and the transport geography of the Bailiwick of Soneburg in the last decades of the Livonian Confederation
Three hypotheses on the building sequence of the inner lapstrakeand outer carvel planking (Zwick 2017)
The extent of the ice-shield is depicted in the contemporary Carta Marina (1539) of Olaus Magnus. The excerpt shows the Western Estonian islands of Dagö (Hiiumaa) and Ösel (Saaremaa). On the latter, the caption for Arensburg (Armborg) and Soneburg (Süneborg) were apparently confounded (Zwick 2017).

Was the second layer of flush-laid carvel planks a response to Climate Change, i.e. the advent of the Little Ice Age? This hypothesis is evaluated as part of the last case study in my doctoral dissertation.


  • Zwick 2017: D. Zwick, Maritime Logistics in the Age of the Northern Crusades (Dissertation). Kiel 2017.