The figurehead of the Huis te Warmelo
© Subzone
A cannon at the site of the Huis te Warmelo.
© Subzone
Cannons of Huis te Warmelo
© Subzone

Huis te Warmelo

In 2002 a wreck was found west of the island of Hogland, off the Finnish south coast by Finnish Maritime Administration during hydrographical surveys. It turned out to be a very well preserved wreck of a warship, probably from the 18th century. Since 2006 different sports divers have visited the wreck. But the origin of the wreck remained unknown. Was it a Swedish, Russian or maybe a Dutch ship?

In 2014, SubZone, a Finnish survey company with a special interest in archaeological research, measured and documented the wreck through video recording. During this survey they measured the cannons and made some other basic observations. These observations turned out to be crucial for the identification of the wreck.

Through different contacts the information landed with Dutch historian Peter Swart who is specialized in the history of the West Frisian Admiralty. He found a sea map in the Maritime Museum of Rotterdam that was drawn by mapmaker Abraham Maas and dated between 1716-1726. On this map there was a cross written on the spot where this wreck was found. It also included a note  ‘Hier is het Noord-Hollands oorlogsschip op gebleven 1715’ , translation: Here the North Holland warship was left/wrecked.  

In this year the admiralty of West Frisia (North Holland) lost only one ship in the Baltics, the 125 feet long frigate named ‘Huis te Warmelo’. The information collected by SubZone matched the information known from this ship, therefore we can state that almost certainly this well preserved warschip is indeed the Huis te Warmelo.

Since the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (RCE) manages Dutch shipwrecks owned by the state (those of VOC, WIC and Admirality), its Maritime Programme was contacted to inform them about the finding and to discuss further actions. A cooperation agreement between the RCE, National Board of Antiquities and Subzone was made, also including historian Peter Swart and archaeologist Michiel Bartels to cooperate in the research of the wrecksite.

The work consists of the proper documentation of the shipwreck site officially called ‘the Kalbådagrund wreck’ after its location. This documentation will be done using only non-intrusive/non-destructive methods like filming and photographing, which has to result in a full 3D mapping and modelling of the site.

First preparations for this included a side scan sonar survey of the wreck site and mooring installation at the site are conducted in May 2016. The fieldwork that year included documentation by photogrammetry. However, the weather wasn’t ideal which resulted in a very short dive time window and low visibility near the seabed. The results were promising and in 2017 the recording of the outside of the shipwreck was finished. In 2018 more recordings were done to improve the photogrammetry model, and the idea for 2019 and 2020 is to record the inside of the shipwreck as well.

In 2018, the Finnish government decided to legally protect the wrecksite. Ideas are to lift a few items of the site to confirm the identity of the wreck to a higher certainty. The discussions take a while since this also will involve conservation and depositioning of the finds at an archaeological depot. This again will involve discussions about responsibilities and budget. The lifting of items can however only be done after a full recording. Therefore, there is time to talk this through.

In the meantime the municipality has worked together with historian Peter Swart on a website to inform its citizens about the wreck and the soldiers and sailors on board. It can be found at