Wednesday 30 November 2022

Shrimp fishers catch pristine 17th century wooden head


A crew of shrimp fishermen made an unusual catch earlier this week when they pulled up a 17th century wooden head which may have formed part of the adornments of a large ship.

The fisherman caught the head, which is in pristine condition, in their nets when fishing off the coast of the Wadden island of Texel on Monday morning. Crew member Victor Ayal put the find on Twitter, sparking a lively discussion about its possible origin, from the work of Vikings to that of Northern European shipbuilders.

However, according to archaeologist Michiel Bartels, the head most likely dates from the 17th century. One of the clues is the man’s Frygian hat which became a symbol of freedom during the 80 Years’ War.

‘In the 17th century the Dutch depicted the freedom fighters of the time wearing this type of hat as a sign of regaining their independence from Spain,’ he told local paper the Leeuwarder Courant.

The head is made of oak, a very sturdy material, but prone to being eaten by shipworm which proliferate in the Wadden Sea. ‘They could have devoured this head within two years but it was stuck in the sea floor and they couldn’t get to it, Bartels said.

The fishermen, who christened the head ‘Barry’ for unknown reasons, have said the site may yield more finds. ‘We could find an entire ship, who knows,’ Ayal said.

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