The Baltic sea is a favorite place for sea monsters of the old Viking sagas, and just this week archaeologists uncovered a new one – a 660 lb wooden dragon that had been kept beneath a seabed for over five centuries – dating to the age of Christopher Columbus’ voyage on the Santa Maria.
The dragon was carefully excavated off the coast of Ronneby in southern Sweden this week, found amidst a myriad of sunken Viking treasure. It was once the bulkhead of a ship called the ‘Gribshunden,’ or “griffin-dog” which may also be the name of the creature.
The Gribshunden sank around the year 1495, after catching fire on a voyage from Copenhagen in Denmark to the Swedish city of Kalmar. The ship belonged to King John, the ruler of Denmark at the time.
The fire did some extensive damage to the hull but what remains is quite an impressive wreck, given its age. Many nautical researchers believe that the ship was cutting edge technology for its time, built from trees that were cut down in the winter of 1482.
The iconic, serpent-shaped figureheads on Viking ships served to frighten away evil spirits. Armor and weapons were recovered from the wreckage and have been put on display in Danish museums.
The beast, with snarling teeth and lion ears, and the mouth of a crocodile, was carved into an 11-foot-long beam of the ship, and seems to have a person trapped in its jaws.
The main reason that this hulk is so well preserved, is partially due to sea worms being intolerant of the Baltic Sea’s salty waters.
The ship sank during a chaotic time in Scandinavia, as the fire foiled King John’s efforts to unite Denmark, Norway and Sweden into one sovereign kingdom.