The shipwrecks have now been dated for the first time, and preliminary analyses show that they were built outside of Scandinavia sometime in the mid-14th century.

Elisabet Schager, an archaeologist and project leader of the excavation at "The Archaeologists," which is part of the National Historical Museums of Sweden, believes this is an important discovery. 

"These wrecks are an exceptional discovery, both in Sweden and abroad, so it has been fantastic to find them. Before these two wrecks were discovered, only seven other cogs were known in Sweden, and only around 30 are known in the whole of Europe," Schager noted.

The two ships were constructed in the 14th century

The analysis of the tree-ring dating samples shows that the Varbergskoggen 1 ship was built with lumber that was felled after 1346 in the area that today consists of the Netherlands, Belgian, and north-eastern France. 

On the other hand, the smaller vessel, the Varbergskoggen 2, was constructed using oak that was felled between 1355 and 1357, in northern Poland. 

The results of the analysis suggest that both vessels were in foreign waters when they ended up at the bottom of the seafloor. 

A separated sheave from the cog 1 wreck. Photo: The Archaeologists / CC BY

The use of cogs

As The Archaeologists explain on their website, cogs were medieval single-masted transport vessels designed to maximize cargo space, and they're often associated with the Hanseatic League. 

However, they were also used across Northern Europe. Furthermore, they're commonly seen as the successor of the Viking Age knar

During the excavation of the shipwrecks, experts identified several construction details characteristic of traditional cog construction. 

For example, the bottom strakes of the vessels were built in the carvel style, while the sides were built in the more traditional clinker style. 

Furthermore, the caulking between the strakes was made with moss and secured with lathes, and the decks were supported with bulky crossbeams which stuck out the sides of the hull.

A wooden spoon from the 14th century, discovered on one of the cogs. Photo: The Archaeologists / CC BY

Exciting artifacts discovered

Scientists have also uncovered a number of fascinating artifacts in the shipwrecks, including leather shoes and housewares made of wood and ceramic. 

Aboard the Varbergskoggen 1 shipwreck (the larger of the two wrecks), rare cache ship equipment and reserve parts were discovered. Luckily, a pile of ballast stones protected these from wreck plunderers.

Archaeologist Schager explains that the finds can help us understand what life at sea looked like at the time.

"We have a lovely assortment of personal objects that represent parts of the crew's daily routines, like wooden bowls and spoons. A number of barrel lids, some of which have what appear to be maker's marks carved in them, were also unearthed among the wreckage. 

"We have collected and are analyzing soil samples as well, which will hopefully be able to identify the remnants of food or cargo. We will even search for parasitic remains, which could identify if animals were kept onboard, and, if so, which species. We hope to be able to piece together where the cogs' fateful journey originated and where they were headed," she noted.

A small figurine found in one of the cogs is just one of the multiple fascinating artifacts discovered. Photo: The Archaeologists / CC BY

Further analyses will likely help further specify the dating of the wrecks, as well as help scientists understand how long the ships were used before their demise.

The cause of the sinking of the two ships is still not clear. 

"Once we have cleaned every timber from the wrecks and critically analyzed them, we will hopefully be able to get to the bottom of the mystery. 

"The information we could gather from the initial excavation is that the larger Varbergskoggen 1 had rolled on to its port side in shallow waters while it was still rigged", Schager concluded.

A team of experts at the excavation site. Photo: The Archaeologists / CC BY

The cog 1 shipwreck. Photo: Anders Gutehall / Visuell Arkeologi

The cog 2 shipwreck. Photo: Anders Gutehall / Visuell Arkeologi

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