A wooden figurehead of a sea monster with ears like a lion and a crocodile’s jaw has been salvaged from the sea south of Sweden by divers from the wreck of a 15th-century Danish warship.
The figurehead, which was intended to scare the enemy, was part of the wreck of the Gribshunden, which went down in 1495 after it caught fire on its way from Copenhagen to Kalmar on Sweden’s east coast.
“We have found the world’s oldest figurehead. It is a unique discovery,” archeologist Johan Rönnby told Ekstra Bladet. “It looks absolutely gorgeous and far exceeds expectations. “I think it’s some kind of fantasy animal – a dragon with lion ears and a crocodile-like mouth.”
In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue … and so did Gribshunden
The ship is extensively damaged, but is still one of the best-preserved wrecks of its kind, dating from the same period as Christopher Columbus’s flagship, the Santa Maria.
“The last time this ship saw the world, Leonardo da Vinci and Christopher Columbus were still alive,” said Rönnby. “We can learn a lot about how the ships were made and how they were constructed, since there are no ships left from this era.”
Researchers claim the ship is very well-preserved because sea worms do not like the waters of the Baltic.
“This is a unique find and we will find more unique objects,” said Rönnby.
King Hans ruled Denmark from 1481 to 1513.