Shetland’s sunken treasures to go on show

Cannon by D Jeffries

A new exhibition of treasures recovered from a shipwreck off Shetland has gone on show.

Two displays of finds from the wreck of the Drottningen af Swerige have been on public show at Shetland Museum and Archives

Wrecked in 1745 off the Knab and within the confines of Lerwick harbour, the Drottningen af Swerige – which means Queen of Sweden – offers a fascinating snapshot of life onboard an 18th century trading vessel.

The boat was the flagship of the Swedish East Company and left Gothenburg with sister-ship the Stockholm on January 9, 1745.

Items go on show in Shetland museum
Items go on show in Shetland museum

They quickly ran into trouble a few days later, as the weather deteriorated and in high winds, blizzard conditions and poor visibility the ships struggled to maintain course.

The Stockholm floundered and was lost off Braefield, Dunrossness – nothing now remains of the ship.

The Drottningen af Swerige continued and her captain made the decision to run for the safety of Lerwick.

Unfortunately, as she came into sight of safety, she struck a rock and foundered just hours after the Stockholm.

All the crew from both vessels made it to shore safely.

Under the command of Captain Carl Johan Treutiger, the Drottningen af Swerige of 147ft and 950 ton, carried 130 men and boasted 32 guns.

Built in Stockholm in 1741 for £12,500 – over £1million today – she was the largest vessel in the company’s fleet.  She was a trading vessel to China for the Swedish East India Company.

The Drottningen af Swerige was partially loaded, en route to Cadiz (Spain) for more supplies before heading to Canton in China.

Mong the items on show in the display is an extremely rare chart, dating to the 1740s which was created by Dutch cartographer Joannes Van Keulen.

Used as a navigational aid, this chart contains information about the sea and coast, including tides, anchorages and dangerous rocks.

Charts, unlike maps contained hill profiles to help mariners recognise landmasses.  Marine atlases adorned the chart table onboard vessels such as the Drottningen af Swerige.

Dutch cartographers were prolific map-makers and unlike the British of the time they made many maps of Shetland

This recent acquisition is one of the rarest of all Shetland charts.

This exhibition is set to run throughout 2015.