Archaeology breakthrough: Discovery of ‘frozen battlefield’ shipwreck where 800 died
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Mars was a Swedish warship that was built between 1563 and 1564, and was the leading ship of King Eric XIV of Sweden’s fleet. The vessel was “the biggest warship of its time when it was built”, according to the researchers who discovered it. In 1564, during the Northern Seven Years’ War, she caught fire and exploded during the First battle of Oland in the Baltic Sea.
Richard Lundgren of Ocean Discovery told National Geographic about his find in 2016.
He spoke of how the vessel intrigued him since he was a young boy.
The researcher said: “Mars sank during a fierce naval battle. As you are descending down towards the wreck you’re actually jumping into a time machine, in this case 450 years back in time.
“It was the legend surrounding Mars that actually got me intrigued, as a young boy I wanted to find her and see if the legend was true.
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“But it was also the challenge to find a shipwreck that many other people have tried to find but actually failed.”
Mr Lundgren and his colleagues found treasure aboard the ship which was worth a large sum of money.
He continued: “The legend of Mars doesn’t just involve her size as a battleship but also involves a big silver war treasure.
“We found silver coins , with one having an estimated value of 13,000 euros.
“According to the records, there are 220,000 coins, so it’s quite a heap of coins and values.”
Alongside the treasure, however, were human remains.
The researchers believe that the ship was followed by 800 soldiers to the bottom of the sea.
Mr Lundgren added: “We believe that actually 800 soldiers followed Mars down to her grave so there are quite a few human remains down there, making the site even more eerie to dive.”
His colleague, Johan Ronnby, of Soderton University Sweden, outlined the history of the vessel.
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He said: “We think it is probably the biggest warship of its time when it was built
“Mars is a ship but it is also a battlefield. A frozen battlefield that went down in the middle of this fight.
“There was an explosion on board so we think it went down very quick.
“The very cold and very dark water in the Baltic Sea preserves wrecks in a fantastic way so you can see all the details under all the decorations on the gun and the coat of arms on the cannon.
“You can see a lot of bones down there…these people are just laying there in this battlefield.”
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