Maritime archaeology – archaeology under the sea

Stone Age settlements, shipwrecks, defence systems, jetties, harbour installations and aircraft wrecks are artefacts of great historical importance and are therefore protected under the Danish Museum Act.

Submerged relics can easily be destroyed when current and wave patterns are altered by construction works. Sites can also be damaged by ferry and ship traffic. Such threatened sites are investigated and excavated by the underwater archaeological museums.

The Viking Ship Museum is responsible for archaeology in eastern Danish waters.

If you find a shipwreck or other submerged site older than 100 years (from the time of wrecking) you must report the find to the appropriate museum.

Archaeology is concerned with the excavation, surveying and protection of historical artefacts, both on land and under the sea. However, the water environment in maritime archaeology sets certain limits. Communication is difficult under water, visibility may be extremely poor, and the necessary diving suits and other equipment make the work exceedingly laborious.

Read more about what you can find under water, how underwater sites are found, and how they are excavated and recorded.

Latest news

Maritime archaeologist, Matko Cvrljak, working on the excavation of the medieval ship from Kalverev. Before the archaeologists could begin to get an idea of the extent of the wreck, they first had to remove 1.4m of sand and silt. Photo: Nilas H. Møller

The Viking Ship Museum recovers a medieval ship in Storstrømmen

The rare find will provide the archaeologists with new knowledge concerning the development of the Nordic ship, fro…

The special exhibition at the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, Denmark, 'In the Wake of the Vikings' - opening 13. November 2015 - is the story about how the five Skuldelev ships have shaped the museum to what it is today: how the remarkable find has been of crucial importance for maritime archaeology in Denmark and been the driving force behind far-reaching archaeological experiments within reconstruction and sailing.

In the Wake of the Vikings - Special exhibition

The special exhibition 'In the Wake of the Vikings' is the story about how the five Skuldelev ships have shaped the…

The unfinished amber amulet was fashioned from a lump of amber the size of a chicken egg. It has been worked and has clear hollow in the middle, where the craftsman began boring a hole, which most likely was intended to go the whole way through the amulet. Photo: Morten Johansen, Viking Ship Museum.

Rare underwater find of Mesolithic settlement

Maritime archaeologists from the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde have found an 8,000 year old settlement under 5m of…