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1609 | Japsand, Hallig Hooge

Ein Halbkraweel aus dem frühen 17. Jahrhundert im Nordfriesischem Wattenmeer

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In February and May 2017, respectively, wreck fragments were discovered off the shoals of Hallig Hooge in the North Frisian Wadden Sea. The area is strongly affected by tidal currents and the possibilities for archaeological research is restricted by the remoteness, the narrow time frame of receding tides, and the swiftness by which wreck remains in this area are reclaimed by the sea.

The peculiar construction, which combines a lapstrake construction in the lower part of the hull and flush-laid planking in the upper part, is a feature known only in Swedish and Norwegian shipbuilding since the mid 16th-century up to the early 20th century and is primarily associated with small-scale shipping in rural communities.

Wreck fragment 1 in February 2017 (© ALSH)

The dendrochronological samples taken from the frames and planks also point to a possible Swedish origin. Interestingly, with a terminus post quem of 1609, the wreck dates into the period of the Thirty Years War, in which Sweden as a major  Protestant power was heavily invested, partially with own territorial claims within the German Empire. The fragmented nature of the wrecksite, scattered across a stretch between the shoal of Japsand and Hallig Hooge, points to a particularly dramatic ship-loss, which may be associated to the historical event of the Burchadi Flood on 11.-12. October 1534. According to written sources, several dykes broke and several ships were washed ashore, often ending up in the streets of the Hallig settlements. The research on this wreck is still ongoing and will be published shortly in German and English.


  • Zwick et al. 2019: D. Zwick, J. Fischer & S. Klooß, Archäologie an der Waterkant. Die Wrackteile vom Japsand bei Hallig Hooge. In: Archäologische Nachrichten aus Schleswig-Holstein 25, 2019, 152-163.