Anna Maria was built in 1694 as a flute, a ship-type that was developed in Holland in the 16th century. It was a merchant vessel with high cargo capacity, its hull sides leaning inward, giving the ship a very narrow upper deck. It made many trips between the Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean, and she mostly carried salt, iron, copper and wooden planks. During one of her travels she was attacked by pirates. In the skirmish, Anna Maria’s captain was killed.
1708 was the last year that Anna Maria sailed. When she arrived in Dalarö in late November, severe cold had caused the ice to begin to form and it was decided to let her spend the winter in Dalarö harbour. Five of the crew were left on the ship as guards.
Story of sinking
During the winter of 1708-1709 Anna Maria was ice-locked in Dalarö. The small crew left on the ship lit a fire in in the galley to cook, and after dinner they went to the local pub. As they sat there, they could hear shouts from the harbor – Anna Maria was on fire!
The galley fire had relit and spread to the firewood storage. Most of the ship stern burned down to the waterline, and Anna Maria sank through the ice.
Parts of the ship were destroyed in the fire, but there is still much left of its 38 meter long and 8 meter wide hull, and of its cargo consisting of pine planks and blister steel.
Story of discovery
In 1984, a group of sports divers started a project aimed at solving the mystery of the big wreck in the harbour which was believed to be the remains of a barge that sank during the 19th century. 1984-87, the group made several surveys at the site. They found that the ship was about 38 meters long, 8 meters wide, that it was a flute ship, and that the cargo consisted of pine boards and wooden crates with blister steel. Dendrochronological analyses showed that the planks in the cargo were cut at the earliest summer of 1708. This collected knowledge facilitated the archive studies, which gave us all these facts about Anna Maria.
Anna Maria is probably one of very few shipwrecks that have had their history confirmed by a legal record. It is dated May 6, 1709, and it shows that two of the crewmen were sentenced to eight days on water and bread, and the remaining three to four days. It may seem like mild punishment, but could lead to serious physical consequences for the sentenced person.