The shipwreck of S:t Mikael is a part of the history of Finnish maritime archaeology. Its discovery, along with another protected shipwreck, St. Nikolai, lead to the development of the subject of maritime archaeology in Finland in the 1950s–1960s.
The wreck was discovered by accident in the summer 1953, when the anchor line of fishermen, living on the island of Borstö, got tangled on the wreck’s mast. Navy divers, who were called to the site, discovered a shipwreck with its hull almost intact and with its foremasts still erect.
The first inspection of the wreck was carried out in 1958 and it was led by the Finnish Antiquarian Society, the predecessor of the National Board of Antiquities. In 1961–1962 the wreck was studied by a Swedish group of divers with the Society’s permission.
The wreck was called Borstö I, until researcher Christian Ahlström identified the wreck based on archaeological discoveries and historical archived material. Parts of a horse-drawn carriage and the seal of a bolt of fabric, discovered on the wreck, were used as the basis for the identification.
The final research on the shipwreck was carried out in the 1990s, after which the National Board of Antiquities and the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment in Southwest Finland created a protected zone around it, in which all diving and mooring is forbidden. It is likely that objects have been stolen from the wreck of S:t Mikael.
In addition to the usual commercial goods, S:t Mikael was transporting valuable goods, such as oak planks, sail fabric, cinnabar pigment, dried fish and Scottish whisky from Amsterdam to the court in St. Petersburg and to traders. At the end of October 1747, the vessel touched the bottom in the rocky waters of Nagu, now Pargas, and sunk quickly. No members of the crew or passengers are known to have survived.
A great deal of artefacts were raised from the wreck: gold and silver-plated pocket watches, snuff boxes, fans embellished with jewels, a rococo skirt, and several balls of gold and silver thread, intended for embroidery.
S:t Mikael is a three-masted trade vessel, 25 metres long and approximately 6 metres wide. It lies on its keel at a depth of approximately 40 metres. The vessel’s masts reach a depth of up to approximately 19–24 metres.
Lost at sea, rediscovered
Editors Eero Ehanti, Johanna Aartomaa, Irma Lounatvuori, Eerik Tirkkonen.
The Maritime Museum of Finland 2012, 256 pages, paperback, ISBN 978-951-616-228-0
S:t Michel 1747
Editor Anna Nurmio-Lahdenmäki
Fingrid 2006, ISBN: 952-92-1187-2
The watches from the wreck St Michael 1747