Work relocating medieval shipwreck to Seaplane Harbor Museum starts

One section of the 14th-century cog found on Lootsi street in Tallinn, being relocated to the Seaplane Harbor Museum, July 5 2022.
One section of the 14th-century cog found on Lootsi street in Tallinn, being relocated to the Seaplane Harbor Museum, July 5 2022. Source: Aron Urb/National Maritime Museum

The job of removing and relocating the archaeological remains of one of the largest shipwrecks of its kind to have been found anywhere in Europe started in Tallinn this week.

The wreck of the 14th-century cog was found at a construction site on Lootsi street – close to the Old Town Harbor in central Tallinn – and two sections were removed overnight Tuesday, to the Estonian Maritime Museum located at the Seaplane Harbour (Lennusadam), around 3km away by road.

Museum chief Urmas Dresen said the removal was: "Only the beginning; both the cog and all the accompanying artifacts will be examined and preserved. We will do our best to ensure that the upcoming work can be continuously observed and as a result, you will be able explore the Lootsi cog and all the accompanying findings, in all their glory."

"I would very much like to thank everyone who is helping now, and in the future,' Dresen added, in a maritime museum press release.

Two more sections are due to be relocated at the museum later this week.

The work is done late at night due to the weight of each section – in double figures in terms of tonnage – and the logistical considerations of moving the pieces safely on roads which are very busy much of the time.

The transportation done so far took almost six hours in total, while the preparation work, including wooden bracing inserted inside the hull to help maintain its integrity (see cover image), took over three months, while the first sections had initially been slated to have been relocated on Monday night, an action which had to be postponed 24 hours when it turned out that they weighed almost three times more than anticipated.

Cogs were single-sailed, square-rigged, clinker-built vessels common in the middle ages and most closely associated with the Hanseatic trade and ports, of which Tallinn was one.

One of the most famous examples is the Bremen Cog, found in the German city of the same name 60 years ago and in fact slightly smaller than the "Lootsi cog" recently discovered.

The Lootsi example was found at the end of March this year, around 1.5 meters below the surface, during construction work for an office building and is dated from the 1360s. The wreck is 24.5m long, 9m in beam and 4m in height, and is well preserved.

Associated finds included a navigational aid and the remains of rats embedded in tar.

The vessel is due to form a part of the museum's shipyard square, and will be open for viewing to the public in due course.

Given Tallinn's long history as an important port and trading center, wrecks from all eras are quite common finds, sometimes a considerable distance form the shoreline (while land in the area of the Old Town harbor is reclaimed, some vessels may have intentionally been buried in the ground and away from the harbor or shore).

Other recent examples include a find on Kiikri street in Kadriorg, from early last year.

The segment from Tuesday evening's edition of ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" also contains footage of the removal work (in Estonian, see below).


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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