Swallowed by the Sea

- two ships that never reached Port

Our seabed is a treasure chamber of objects and stories, hidden, or forgotten, for centuries or millennia in the deep below the ship traffic:
wrecks of Viking ships, sunk intentionally near the royal seat of Roskilde or wrecks of later merchant and cargo ships, which sank dramatically on the approach to Copenhagen.

It’s seldom, that archaeological shipwrecks are excavated and raised. It only happens once or twice every 20 years.
Museum practice is normally to preserve and protect shipwrecks there, where they are found – on the seabed.

But this time it’s different. 

After lying hidden and forgotten on the seabed for centuries, two wrecked ships saw the light of day again in 2023. The ships were discovered in the channel called Svælget, which the urban development company, ‘CPH City and Port Development, needed to deepen and reshape as part of establishing the artificial peninsula, Lynetteholm.

During the spring and summer of 2023, marine archaeologists from the Viking Ship Museum conducted complex and extensive underwater excavations of the shipwrecks. Piece by piece, the ships fra 'Svælget' were subsequently salvaged from the sea floor and transferred to the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde.

The two Ship Finds from 'Svælget'

'Svælget 1' is a 19th-century cargo ship that sank in a violent shipwreck with a large load of yellow bricks onboard.
'Svælget 2' is much older, dating back to the Middle Ages, with a preliminary dating to 1329.

All parts of the ships will be documented with 3D scanners and photos, and samples will be taken for scientific analysis.

The goal is to gather as much knowledge about the shipwrecks as possible to find answers to the many questions about these previously unknown ships. 

Archaeological detective work

Shipwrecks are a priceless source of information on seafaring and shipbuilding traditions in the past. However, they also contain stories about people’s fates
and living conditions in Denmark as it once was.

"We owe it to the seafarers of the past to investigate all aspects of the ships, so that we can learn about the past and the people whose lives were inextricably linked with the ships".

                                                                                  Morten Johansen, museum curator and maritime archaeologist

Even though the excavation is now over, we don’t know everything about the two ships now called Svælget 1 and Svælget 2. The archaeological method must be applied, and for the next 8 months, we will attempt to extract more stories from the ships.

Some answers are sure to be found, others must remain unknown.

Exhibition in the Maritime Archaeologists' DocuLab

Swallowed by the Sea - two ships that never reached Port
In the Maritime Archaeologists' docuLab, visitors can see the exhibition 'Swallowed by the Sea - two ships that never reached Port.' The focal point of the exhibition is the fatal episodes that sent the ships to the bottom of the sea, bringing us closer to people of the past across centuries. 

The exhibition showcases objects from the two ship finds, including small and personal items that provide a glimpse into daily life aboard 'Svælget 1'

Exhibition opening Hours: 
Daily 10:00 to 15:30

Please note that there may be temporary closures due to the handling of large ship parts

Visit the Maritime Archaeologists' DocuLab 
The DocuLab is located at the Museum Island, next the the Café Knarr

» Follow this link to read more about the work in the Marine Archaeologists' DocuLab ...