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An Underwater Log
The Story Of The Findings Of The Skuldelev Ships

1898
A sea captain finds a piece of timber from the wreck and the underwater blockage and hands it over to the Nationalmuseum of Copenhagen

1924
A local fisherman from Skuldelev salvages a
keelson and some other pieces from the wreck, while breaking through the underwater obstruction to clear the passage for minor vessels. The timbers is passed on to the National Museum of Copenhagen. 

1953
March 15. Jan Uhre, professional frogman and engineer, dives at the obstruction and salvages
pieces of the wreck. Participaters: Einar Olufsen, editor, Hans Nicolaisen,fisherman and a professional photographer from a monthly magazine. 

Jan Uhre makes the very first sketch and takes the first known underwater photo of the obstruction and of parts of the wreck, by local people called The Ship Of Queen Margrethe. A report of the excavation with photos is published April 24 in Dansk Familieblad.

Jan Uhre's excavation reveales that the wreck is clinker-build, and measuring appr. 10 meter by 3 meters. The frames were attachted to the plankings with treenails, but also square-headed ironnails were used, helding the planks together

1956
Roskilde Submarine Research Group is founded April 14. (Photo: RUF 1956) Organizes and starts a systemathic survey of the underwater obstruction and its nearest surroundings. Dives by the wreck and locates by help of local fishermen other but badly preserved and damaged pieces of timber, partly embedded in the bottom at a place several hundred meters to the southeast of the obstruction. The water is very shallow (between 50 cm and 4 metres -between 20 inches and 10 feet). Bad weather makes it difficult to carry out further investigations of other parts of the underwater blockage. Photo 1 and 2 is taken by professional photographer Henrik Clausen, Roskilde.

Members of RSRG dive and search the bottom of the inner parts of the Roskilde Fjord, looking for wrecks and possible traces of ports and other kinds of stopping places for ships.The area of LEJRE is supposed to have been the oldest known site of one of the first Danish kingdoms. The excavation continues throughout the summer.

After 3 weeks of organized searching and diving, Åge Skjelborg finally salvages a large, well preserved oak frame and other kinds of timber from the wreck together with Hartvig Conradsen. Photo taken by Hartvig Conradsen August 23.

Other sorts of specimens and timbers from the wreck appear late August from the underwater obstruction. The timber is carried to Roskilde by car September 1 for storing and securing. Certain details in the construction of the ship already indicate a need for a revised dating of the wreck, now supposedly originating from a time before the reign of Queen Margrethe II.

In the second week of September the first contact is established between inspector Olaf Olsen, The National Museum of Copenhagen, and Åge Skjelborg, head of the RSRG. 

In the middle of September members of RSRG dive in the waters of Køge Bay searching for the famous wreck of the frigate of Dannebrog.

In the third part of September Ole Crumlin-Pedersen, marine archeologist, surveys and measures the salvaged oak frame from the wreck in Roskilde .

An application for oeconomic support from a local bank in Roskilde, enclosed a written recomandation from the National Museum of Copenhagen, is being refused September 22.

Olaf Olsen and Ole Crumlin-Pedersen visit the place of the wreck  September 25, together with Hartvig Conradsen and Åge Skjelborg. Hartvig Conradsen and Åge Skjelborg attend a meating October 11, organized by Olaf Olsen and Ole Crumlin-Pedersen.

Planning and organizing of the first underwater excavation of its kind in Denmark. Maps of known sites of wrecks.(Article i Information February, 8). The marine archeological project starts in the middle of July, lasting for two weeks. The project is financied by Wm. Vett's fond. Excavation under water of wreck 1. Locating and uncovering of parts of wreck 2 and some underwater measurements of the wrecks. Participants: Ole Crumlin-Pedersen, Olaf Olsen, Per Wulff, Hartvig Conradsen (underwater photographer) and Åge Skjelborg. Hartvig Conradsen takes pictures under water of the excavated parts of the two ships. From the very beginning diving is used as a training exercise in underwater archeological technique.

The project continue July-August and is carried out by the same working-team. Excavation of wreck 2. Locatings of wreck 3 and 4. Olaf Olsen indicates in a letter to Åge Skjelborg, dated July 5, that there might be more than 5 wrecks embedded in the underwater obstruction. The blockage appeared to be a silt covered stone ridge across the channel but only a small part of the blockage was explored during this particular summer.

The project is being continued throughout the summer. Locating and partly uncovering of wreck 5 (build of oak) and of wreck 6 (build of pinewood). 

Plates of the excavation during 1959 illustrate the various, current stages of the uncovering of the wrecks. Preliminary conclusion: The vessels must have been both old and damaged at the time of their deliberate sinking.

Hypothetically speaking and according to the leading staff of the project, the underwater obstruction at Skuldelev may be associated with one of the many bloody civil wars during the 12th and 13th century with Wendish pirates plundering the coastal areas. 

This theory was later to be revised and wreck 5 and 6 turned out to be two seperate parts of one and the same ship.

A year after, Åge Skjelborg, inspirered by his close co-operation with inspector Olaf Olsen, takes up a study of Nordic Culture at the University of Copenhagen and ending up in 1969 with a M. A. degree

Åge Skjelborg
Oslo 2009