Divers Couldn’t Believe What Survived This 340-Year-Old Shipwreck

In 1672, the Swedish Navy had one of the most intimidating sea-faring vessels ever built at the time. Her name was Kronan (“crown”). This massive ship was one of the most heavily armed flagships of any navy in the world then and she was expected to lead Swedish sailors to many victories. That is, until the Battle of Öland. One bad turn caused the ship to sink, taking hundreds of casualties along with her. But over 300 years later, Kronan’s remains were rediscovered and archaeologists were floored by what they found.

The Largest Ship Of The Swedish Navy

Stora_Kronan
Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

The Kronan was a Swedish warship that was one of the largest of its kind when it was built in the 17th century. A flagship of the Swedish Navy, this massive ship was completed in 1672 after about four years of construction.

Kronan was only at sea for four years before she met her demise. During the Battle of Öland on June 1, 1676, the entire ship capsized after making a sharp turn.

Many Were Lost When She Sank

kronan shipwreck kalmar museum
Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

As Kronan capsized under too much sail, her entire gunpowder magazine was also ignited. As a result, most of the bow was obliterated in the blast and the ship began sinking quickly.

Of course, a tragic event like that wasn’t without its casualties. Around 800 men lost their lives on this sinking ship, taking along with them more than 100 guns, various military equipment, personal items, and gold and silver coins.

Kronan Wasn’t Discovered For More Than 300 Years

Sunken Swedish Ship At Bottom of Sea
YouTube
YouTube

Kronan sank to her final resting place off the southeast coast of Sweden, where she would remain for over 340 years. As the wreckage would deteriorate and succumb to time at the bottom of the Baltic Sea, it also became a home for aquatic creatures and was overrun by the sea’s natural flora and fauna.

Kronan was nearly forgotten until some diving archaeologists decided to find her at the bottom of the sea.

They Weren’t Sure What To Expect

kronon shipwreck 1980
@evaohsoswedish/Twitter
@evaohsoswedish/Twitter

It took nearly 300 years for the Kronan to make headlines again. In 1980, Swedish naval archaeologist Anders Franzén, who was also a marine technician, located Kronan’s exact location on the ocean floor.

At 85 feet deep, she was just four miles east of the town of Hulterstad in Öland, Sweden. Franzén and his team weren’t sure what to expect when they found her, but Kronan was apparently hiding a lot.

They Initially Found Her Cannons

kronan wreck
@Drakenlordh/Twitter
@Drakenlordh/Twitter

As Franzén and his team dove deeper towards the wreckage, they couldn’t believe their eyes. The cannons protruding from the side of the wreckage were the first significant find.

Indeed, Kronan was one of the most heavily armed ships of the 17th century. Outfitted with 110 guns, she had three full gundecks that went from the bow to the stern. When the archaeologists came upon the remains, they knew what they had to do first.

The Cannons Were Trophies From Other Countries

kronan shipwreck canon guns
Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

On the first expedition in 1981, the crew decided their priority was to safely remove all of the ship’s cannons. Though they had no issue pulling the smaller guns out of the water, they enlisted the help of the Swedish Coast Guard to obtain the larger ones, some of which weighed over four tons.

All the gun cannons were of different shapes and sizes; trophies from different kingdoms including Germany, France, Denmark, and Spain.

There Was Enough Light To Conduct A Thorough Excavation

kronan shipwreck baltic sea
VCG/VCG via Getty Images
VCG/VCG via Getty Images

Much of the sand surrounding the wreckage was infertile, meaning that it was light enough to reflect the light of the sun from the surface of the water. This was especially helpful during excavation.

It was a good thing that the archaeologists had all this light too, since they were in for a massive discovery that included more than 30,000 artifacts. It would take many years for them to uncover everything.

Kronan’s Treasures Only Got Better And Better

kronan shipwreck officers
Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

As of 2019, only 85 percent of the shipwreck site has been charted, which means there’s still a significant part of the ship that’s either lost to time or hidden beneath the seabed. But so far, what archaeologists have found was beyond anything they could have imagined.

One of the first things that they found was a small table cabinet that held navigational instruments and tools that likely belonged to an officer on the ship.

There Was A Chest Filled With Silver Coins

kronan shipwreck silver coins
@Myntsidan/Twitter
@Myntsidan/Twitter

The divers went on to discover a war chest filled to the brim with silver coins. War chests were necessary to have during maritime travel because not only did they carry the crew’s wages, but the funds also came in handy in the event of an emergency.

The silver coins, however, weren’t the only funds uncovered from the shipwreck. Another collection of coins found within the wreckage led to a lot of historical speculation.

There Were Gold Coins From All Over The World

kronan shipwreck gold coins
@Myntsidan/Twitter
@Myntsidan/Twitter

In 1982, archaeologists uncovered a collection of 255 gold coins. The origin of these coins was perhaps the most striking, as many of the individual coins came from all over the world. There were coins from Cairo, Seville, and Reval (which is now the modern capital of Estonia).

The coins were ducats, which was the most prominent form of currency during the Middle Ages. Ducats back then varied in metallic content and purchasing power.

Ancient Firearms Were Restored And Put On Display

kronan-ship weapons
Open Access Antiquarianism/Pinterest
Open Access Antiquarianism/Pinterest

The Kronan wreckage also revealed a barrage of rifles and other firearms. These guns were rusted over having been underwater for centuries but scientists were able to restore them to a spotless condition.

The guns have since been put on display at the Kalmar County Museum in Sweden, where a large exhibit was built dedicated entirely to the findings from Kronan. Indeed, the guns weren’t the last things that were discovered.

The Shipwrecked Sailors Enjoyed Music

kronan shipwreck instruments
Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

The divers also uncovered a number of musical instruments including a trumpet, three violins, and a viola da gamba, which was an expensive instrument that likely belonged to one of the ship’s officers.

One of the violins is believed to be one of the oldest existing violins in the entire world. With these instruments, historians were able to catch a glimpse of what life was like for these 17th-century sailors.

Of Course, They Found Tobacco Leaves

Tobacco from the shipwreck Kronan
YouTube
YouTube

Another discovery that illustrated daily life back then was tobacco. No matter their rank, all the men on the ship likely smoked tobacco. The archaeologists found it bundled up in barrels that did enough to preserve the leaves over many years.

The tobacco was used for both pleasure and medicinal purposes. Though tobacco was grown in Sweden as early as the 17th century, it’s more likely that the tobacco found on Kronan was imported from North America.

Clothing And Food Were Also Revealed

clothing from the shipwreck
@Court_History/Twitter
@Court_History/Twitter

Seven percent of the wreckage finds included amazingly well-preserved textiles. The clothing appeared to have belonged to the officers and their servants. No longer having to rely on depictions, the clothes gave historians insight into how clothes were manufactured back then.

There were also baskets that were filled with exotic spices and foodstuffs including ginger, plums, cinnamon quills, and grapes. Clearly, the Kronan had been all over the world before she sunk into the ocean.

Researchers Were Excited To Find Brain Tissue

remains from the shipwreck
Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Not only did the archaeologists find clothes and everyday items that were reflective of the ship’s crew members, but they also found substantial evidence of the crew members themselves!

The remains of two crew members were found in the wreck and one of their skulls even contained remains of brain tissue. While 800 or so men lost their lives when the Kronan sunk, only about 40 other men were lucky enough to survive.

An Ominous Black Jar

kronan shipwreck black jar
@SarahWardAU/Twitter
@SarahWardAU/Twitter

It was clear that archaeologists uncovered a literal treasure trove of 17th-century artifacts. From firearms, to coins, to clothes, and even brain tissue, there was a lot that revealed what life was like for these Middle Age sailors.

But perhaps no find was as remarkable as what they uncovered in 2016. In one of their excavations, archaeologists found a mysterious black jar. What was inside the jar really blew their minds.

The Heavy Black Jar Was Waiting To Be Opened

kronan shipwreck cheese discovery
KungFugazi/Imgur
KungFugazi/Imgur

Nestled perfectly into the seabed was this heavy black jar. At first, the archaeologists were unsure of what might be inside. Because it was heavy, it might’ve just been another vessel containing ancient coins.

However, they couldn’t have been more off in that assumption. It wasn’t until the jar was brought back to the surface that its contents were made very apparent. All the jar needed was a slight change in pressure.

They Smelled It Before They Saw It

the open jar
@SarahWardAU/Twitter
@SarahWardAU/Twitter

Once the mysterious jar was brought above the surface of the ocean, the change in pressure caused its contents to start oozing out of the lid. At that moment, everyone was hit with a pungent smell. Scientists believed they found a 340-year-old cheese.

“It’s a pretty good guess that it’s some kind of dairy product, and we think it is cheese,” archaeologist Lars Einarsson told Swedish news hub The Local.

They Believe It Was Roquefort

kronan shipwreck roquefort cheese
DEA / G.CIGOLINI/De Agostini/Getty Images
DEA / G.CIGOLINI/De Agostini/Getty Images

No one working on the Kronan site could believe their eyes – or their noses. It was amazing that a product like cheese lasted well over 300 years at the bottom of the ocean.

“It looks a bit like some kind of granular Roquefort cheese. It’s been in the mud, so it’s reasonably well preserved, but at the same time it has been at the bottom of the sea for 340 years,” Einarsson said.

An Expensive Mass Of Bacteria

kronan shipwreck cheese
@SarahWardAU/Twitter
@SarahWardAU/Twitter

Back in the 17th century, cheeses were a luxury only those in wealthier classes could afford so it is even possible that this jar belonged to the captain of the ship. It’s too bad they didn’t get to enjoy it before the Kronan sank, however.

Though it smells nice and pungent as most expensive cheeses do today, we wouldn’t recommend trying it. “I certainly don’t recommend tasting it. It’s a mass of bacteria,” Einarsson has said.

The Titanic As We All Know Her

titanic-4-13253
Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images
Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images

The name Titanic came from Greek mythology and literally meant “gigantic.” This photo makes it clear just how large it was. The Titanic set sail on April 10, 1912, with more than 2000 people on board.

The building of the ship had been well-publicized. The $7,500,000 price tag also helped keep people talking about it. The size, technical innovations, and impressive features on board the ocean liner made everyone in the world buzz with excitement.

The Discovery Which Sparked Our Curiosity

titanic-1-28178
Xavier DESMIER/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
Xavier DESMIER/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Sadly, the Titanic sank only four days into its maiden voyage after colliding with an iceberg. Most people know the fictional story of Jack and Rose from the film Titanic, but what was life really like?

Being on board the RMS Titanic was a luxury if you were first-class, but a horrifying experience for the third-class. Read on to see what life was like for the 325 first-class, 284 second-class, and the 709 third-class passengers.

The Music Truly Never Stopped

titanic-7-29358
StrongJob/Reddit
StrongJob/Reddit

The old legend that the band never stopped playing while the RMS Titanic sank is very much true. Knowing they’d eventually perish makes it even more horrifying to see the band playing on a normal evening.

Little did these musicians know that they would play until their last breath in just a few days. The eight-member band was led by Wallace Hartley, and it was his choice to play the night away to keep the passengers calm.

The Iconic Staircase

titanic-5-61016
H Bedford Lemere/English Heritage/Arcaid/Corbis via Getty Images
H Bedford Lemere/English Heritage/Arcaid/Corbis via Getty Images

It’s understandable if you think this staircase looks straight out of the film Titanic. The Grand Staircase was the main throughway between multiple decks and has become one of the most recognizable parts of the ship.

This portion of the staircase was only used by the first-class passengers, but even third-class passengers could get a rare glimpse of it. The stairway was meant to make people stop and stare, as the builders intended it to be the ‘pièce de resistance’ of the ship.

An Old Timey Gym To Help You Get Your Sea Legs

titanic-6-71913-58168
Justsoinsane/Reddit
Justsoinsane/Reddit

It might be shocking to see that among the many other features on the Titanic, it also had a small gymnasium with dated fitness equipment. The gymnasium included an electric camel, electric horse, and cycling machines. Unsurprisingly, only the first-class passengers could use the innovative facility.

The gym was open for ladies from 9 am to noon, and for men between 2 and 6 pm. It’s a good thing this guy was practicing his rowing skills because little did he know, he would soon need them.

They Had A Deck Devoted Entirely To Games

titanic-13-61556
Bettmann/Contributor/Getty Images
Bettmann/Contributor/Getty Images

A lot of what many people know about the Titanic involves the entertainment for adults, but what about the kids? 126 children were on board the Titanic and sadly, 60 did not survive the sinking. A majority of those were in the second and third class.

This little boy here is see passing time by playing shuffleboard on the Promenade Deck. First-class children could also pass the time at the gymnasium between 1 and 3 pm.

A First-Class Lavish Lounge

titanic-9-16155-91709
Universal Images Group/Getty Images
Universal Images Group/Getty Images

Here you can see just how outlandish and ornate the decor was in the first-class lounge. Located on Deck A, this smoking and social lounge would have been a hot spot for lunch, card games, and even business affairs.

A first-class ticket would have cost $1700 today, so they definitely got their money’s worth. The lounge was styled to look like the Palace of Versailles in France. It was in this lounge that the band began playing their final notes.

There Were Two Separate Barber Shops On Board

titanic-19-73427
RevolveLove/Reddit
RevolveLove/Reddit

The Titanic boasted not one, but two, barber shops on board. These barbers mostly provided daily trimmings to men’s facial hair. One barber was solely for first-class passengers, while the other barber was for second-class. If you were third-class, you would have to go the entire trip without a trim.

The barber shop was also kind of like a modern-day souvenir shop. You can see dolls, hats, ribbons, trinkets, and tobacco hanging up on the walls for sale.

Café Parisien Was The Go-To Spot For Tea Time

titanic-12-66638
Universal Images Group/Getty Images
Universal Images Group/Getty Images

If you didn’t want to spend your days at the indoor lounge, you could drink and socialize at the Café Parisien, which overlooked the Atlantic Ocean. It was the first of its kind on an ocean liner. The Café was most popular with the younger first-class crowd instead of a stuffy parlor.

The Café Parisien was the first restaurant of its kind on an ocean liner and served food like oysters, salmon, roast duckling, and vanilla éclairs.

Continue reading to see just how different each class had it when it came to their sleeping quarters.

A First-Class Cabin Was Like A Dream

titanic-10-84269-54454
Somebody_women/Reddit
Somebody_women/Reddit

This glimpse into the luxurious first-class sleeping cabin is a nicer bedroom than most other passengers could ever dream of. One set of staterooms were so elite that they were connected by a private deck. It was these ultra-private staterooms which were recreated for the film Titanic.

The first-class cabins were all located on the B Deck. Sadly, the B Deck is where most of the crew and passengers who could not escape the ship would take their last stand as it sank.

Second-Class Cabins Were Comfortable Enough

titanic-11-11649
SuzzB/Pinterest
SuzzB/Pinterest

The bunks, private bathrooms, and a seating area in the second-class cabins were more than enough for many. There were even select second-class cabins that could double as first-class cabins, which meant they were more lavish.

A cabin like this could have been as high up at the C Deck, and as low down as the E Deck. Many people think that second-class passengers had it better than third-class, but many did not escape death either.

Third-Class Cabins Were Hardly Inviting

titanic-20-49602
Pinterest
Pinterest

The third-class cabins were more like a jail cell than sleeping quarters. Thanks to the cramped space, most of the third class passengers spent time elsewhere on the ship. The cabins were located on F Deck and G Deck, which were some of the first to flood.

It also didn’t help that the Titanic began sinking in the early hours of the morning when most third-class passengers had already gone to bed, making their escape even harder.

The image coming up shows a rare glimpse into life for the workers keeping the Titanic afloat.

The Third-Class Dining Area Was More Like A Cafeteria

titanic-15-56019
Denise/Pinterest
Denise/Pinterest

The third-class dining area was hardly inviting. It was more of a cafeteria-style room that left more to the imagination. Still, the silverware and table settings were likely the fanciest many third-class passengers had ever encountered. Dining with some of the finest silverware would be a highlight for many passengers who did not survive the sinking.

In the dining room, third-class passengers were served basic meals like porridge, vegetable stew, baked potatoes, and occasionally, roast beef.

The Second-Class Social Lounge Was More Than Enough

titanic-16-75150-31233
George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images
George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images

If you didn’t know it, you might assume that this room was home to the first-class of passengers. No, even upholstered chairs and lavish ceilings weren’t fancy enough for the first-class. Much like the first-class lounge, it was styled after the lavish Palace of Versailles, but the designer left the more ornate fixings for first-class.

This second-class social lounge was where many played cards, and some rogue third-class members would try and sneak their way into.

A Rare Image Of What The Boiler Rooms Were Like

titanic-8-58747-68041
Thomas Schmid/Reddit
Thomas Schmid/Reddit

Here you can see what the reality was like for those who worked in the Titanic’s boiler rooms. Keeping the ship moving was a 24/7 job that was dirty and harsh. There were six boiler rooms that hel 29 boilers. 179 men worked round the clock to fuel the boilers with 600 tonnes of coal every single day.

These workers were paid well, but none escaped. The boiler rooms were some of the first to be flooded when the iceberg hit.

The Ship Even Had Saleswomen On Board

titanic-18-51552-95264
Liz Carlson/Pinterest
Liz Carlson/Pinterest

Here, an Irish woman sells lace on board a second-class deck. There was no protocol on the Titanic that said your luggage couldn’t be full of goods to sell on board. For many people who resorted to a life of sales, buying a ticket on the Titanic would have been a gamble they were willing to take.

This woman was likely hoping that the profits made on the trip would help fund a new life for her in America.

The Decks Were Always Kept In Pristine Shape

titanic-14-68400
George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images
George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images

There were four decks from A Deck to D Deck that were above water and could be enjoyed by the passengers. Every deck was kept in tip-top condition by the crew no matter which class inhabited them. This was because each deck was partitioned off, rather than having full separate decks for each class.

For your average third-class passenger, the attention to detail on everything, including your lower-class deck, probably made the Titanic voyage feel like a dream.

Loading Luggage On Board Was A Sight Itself

titanic-17-96069-24067
JenniAnn/Pinterest
JenniAnn/Pinterest

This image of a secondary ship transporting luggage onto the Titanic was one of the first taken on board. You can see some passengers watching on eagerly to see their personal belongings brought on. Little did they know, those belongings would end up in the deep depths of the ocean in just a few days.

On other ocean liners, passengers brought their own luggage on board. The Titanic revolutionized cruise ship service by employing workers to do this simple job for the passengers.

The Sheer Size Of The Propellers Show The Might Of The Titanic

titanic-3-22957-15885
Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images
Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

The Titanic’s propellers were a staggering size. Three propellers graced the back of the Titanic, and both side propellers were 23 feet across and weighed a staggering 38 tonnes each.

With that size and weight, these propellers are actually the largest to ever be built, even larger than ones used on ships today. The people in the background show just how hefty they really were. It’s hard to believe a ship with so much power could sink so quickly in the night.

The Propellers Today Tell A Story

titanic-2-35748-89080
Xavier DESMIER/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
Xavier DESMIER/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

The search of the Titanic today uncovered many items left behind, but nothing was more impressive than one of those staggeringly large propellers. It has survived under the water for more than a century and with its size and shape, it is still easily recognizable.

Items like the lounge chairs, bags, and fitness equipment are nowhere to be found in the wreckage site, and ocean currents could have taken the items thousands of miles away.