The Unexplained: Will the dead tell their stories?
June 17, 2022
The remains of the drowned were in excellent condition and can give us valuable information about their lives and their times at sea.
In the 1620s a Swedish king commissioned a magnificent warship. He did so because of his desire for military expansion during skirmishes with Poland and Lithuania.
King Gustavus Adolphus ordered the ship built by private ship builders.
It was laid out 1626 and launched in 1627. It was beautiful and made if oak gathered from Sweden, Poland and Lithuania, measuring 226 feet long, 38 feet at the beam, and 172 feet tall. Sixty-four newly casted bronze cannons were on board.
It would be carrying 145 sailors and 300 military personnel.
These private builders seemed to know exactly what they were doing, Hendrick and Arend Hybertsson, and they were convinced that their ship creations for the king, four ships, were highly technical.
The Vasa was their pride, and it would have two gun decks. That’s right, two. Truthfully scientific engineering in shipbuilding was woefully absent in that day. Their task was made more difficult because King Gustav changed his orders ten times during the building process.
King Gustav actually came out to view the construction. Onlookers from all over admired the beauty and functionality of the giant craft. There were fine carvings and paintings on the ships. Most of the carvings were depictions of the royal family and their activities.
The Vasa was put out to sea on August 10, 1628. Most of The same onlookers were there to watch, and they were horrified as the Vasa began to sink only twenty minutes out into the water of Stockholm Harbor. That is only 1300 meters out.
The ship breezed through the first little ocean gust, but it began to tip after the second puff of sea air. Tests done recently indicate that The Vasa would capsize at any point over a 10% list.
This had been the most ambitious warship of the day . Scientists still cannot all agree on the exact reasons for the ship’s instability. It was a design that definitely looked good on paper, to experienced ship builders.
When it went down that fateful day, at least thirty souls were lost including a few women and children.
After being located and examined a few times in the 1950s, the wreck was finally brought up in 1961.
Ship wrecks are time capsules. The area where this one rested was cold with low oxygen levels. This was a perfect condition for preservation.
That brings us to the sticky subject that hovers around shipwrecks: reverence for the dead. There is a moral question to recovering remains. At what point is it okay to bring them up? Is it acceptable after 250 years? 300 years? 400 years? Is it ever okay?
That is the purpose if my story. Most of it has been brought up and put in a museum. The museum: The Vasa Museum in Stockholm. The contents – wonderful artifacts from the time – have been cleaned and reassembled for viewing.
I wrote about strange fate of The Vasa, earlier, but I cannot find the article – still searching. This would be an update to my original story: the remains of the drowned were in excellent condition and can give us valuable information about diet, nutrition, diseases, and class distinction of the time, but there is something more remarkable.
They have been able to do facial reconstructions of some of the victims using measurements of their well-preserved skulls.
The facial reconstructions are eerily fascinating. The long-dead come to life as they step forward to tell their stories.
Please click HERE to find Quite Curious, a collection of true strange tales by Sara Marie Hogg.