The F53.5 (W-21) wreck constitutes the remains of a sailing ship, most probably a warship built from oak with employment of a carvel technique (staves of planking fastened edge to edge). A bottom part of the midship area was preserved in the shape of a keelson with a mast step, side beam reinforcements in the mast step area, floor timbers, as well as staves of the outside planking and staves of the inside planking fastened edge to edge. The dimensions of the site are as follows: 18 metres in length, 6 metres in width. Neither keel nor garboard strakes of the planking have been identified on the wreck.
Before the archaeological works were undertaken, the wreck comprised an oval mound of stones with a few protruding structural wooden elements. A 20 x 9 meter measurement frame was installed on the site in 1979 - 1981. Once the drawing and photographic records were compiled, a part of stones was removed from the object. At present, the stones form two oval mounds, one on each side of the object. The present state is displayed by the 3D model of the F53.5 site. Presence of ballast stones and weaponry elements on the site, in particular the remains of gun carriages, indicates that in case of the W-21 wreck we are probably dealing with the remains of a warship. Presumably, the vessel did not sink, but was immobilized due to her running aground. Damage of the structure in the form of the lack of keel proves that it was torn off once the ship hit the sea bottom, which in turn may suggest that the disaster could occur during a storm. Damage of the structure was so advanced that seaworthiness of the vessel could not be restored.
The W-21 wreck was discovered in 1974 by Waldemar Kiprowski, a diver.
The object is located to the west of the entrance to Gdańsk port, at a depth of 3 metres, ca 300 metres from the beach near Brzeźno.
Initial measurement works were performed by PMM divers in 1975 and 1976. Archaeological works were conducted between 1979 and 1981. Documentation and cataloguing works were conducted on the site by underwater archaeologists of the NMM in 2006 and 2015.
Establishment of the object's chronology was possible due to dendrochronological analyses conducted in 2006 on 12 wood samples collected from the wreck, resulting in 9 samples being dated. The trees used for construction of the W-21 object were cut down after 1593, the wood came from southern Sweden. Chronology of the ceramic items from the wreck was established as the first half of the 18th century. Among 218 fragments of pipes discovered on the wreck, the majority date back to the 18th century. At the same time, most of the bowls date back to the period of 1740 – 1780. A few pipes bear the symbol of the city of Gouda, a characteristic symbol for pipes from the period of 1730 – 1740. Moreover, some of the pipes have letter “S” inscribed on them, which stands for lower quality goods.
Chronology of the ceramic items from the wreck was established as the first half of the 18th century. Among 218 fragments of pipes discovered on the wreck, the majority date back to the 18th century. At the same time, most of the bowls date back to the period of 1740 – 1780. A few pipes bear the symbol of the city of Gouda, a characteristic symbol for pipes from the period of 1730 – 1740. Moreover, some of the pipes have letter “S” inscribed on them, which stands for lower quality goods. Most of the collected artefacts were heavily damaged, which indicates that over the centuries the object was subject to destructive post-deposition processes which hinder interpretation of the site.
Presence of Swedish square coins on the wreck and construction from wood which came from Sweden leads to a possible conclusion that the vessel was built or operated by the Swedes.
The total of 1385 objects have been recovered from the site, the majority of which are clay pipes and fragments of earthenware and stoneware. Moreover, such objects as tiles, roof tiles, bottle fragments, a wooden wheel of a gun carrier, cannonballs and musket bullets, fragments of leather footwear, a bone bag handle and copper square coins were recovered during the excavation process. A date 1625 was decrypted on one of the square coins, while a few other coins have legible “GAR” and “G. R.” monograms inscribed on them.
Smolarek, P., Badania podwodne w Bałtyku w latach 1979–1986, Kwartalnik Historii Kultury Materialnej, 35, nr 3, 1987, s. 465-495.
Mikłaszewicz D., Fajki z wraków zalegających na dnie Zatoki Gdańskiej, „Pomerania Antiqua”, t. XV, 1992, s. 265 - 300.
Bednarz T., „De Jonge Seerp”. Badania historyczno - archeologiczne niderlandzkiego statku z końca XVIII wieku, Gdańsk 2015, s. 27 - 29.
The "Gulf of Gdańsk Shipwreck Virtual Open-Air Museum" website (www.wsw.nmm.pl) has been created under the "Gulf of Gdańsk Shipwreck Virtual Open-Air Museum. Recording and Inventory of Underwater Archaeological Heritage" scientific research project, co-financed with the funds from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.