Melckmeyt 1659 - Underwater Archaeological Survey
Melckmeyt (Milkmaid) was a Dutch merchant ship that wrecked by Flatey Island in the 17th century.
On a bitterly cold and stormy October night, a Dutch merchant ship, the Melckmeyt, fully laden with cargo and ready for the long voyage home to Amsterdam, attempted to wait out a violent storm at anchor. Over the next two days, the fifteen souls on board battled to save the ship from wrecking but their efforts were ultimately in vain and one crew member lost his life. The ship sank leaving the crew marooned on the tiny Flatey Island, thousands of miles from home. According to the Icelandic Annals, the surviving fourteen crew members over-wintered on Flatey after the ship wrecked.
Two divers rediscovered the wreck in 1992 and the following year an underwater archaeological survey was carried out by the National Museum of Iceland. In 2016, a team of marine archaeologists led by Kevin Martin (PhD Candidate) returned to the wreck site to expand on the 1993 survey area.
Melckmeyt is important as it is the oldest known and identified shipwreck in Icelandic waters and also the only shipwreck from the Danish trade monopoly period uncovered. The study of its remains offers a great opportunity to add to our knowledge of the nautical archaeology of this period.
Marine archaeology is a sub-discipline of archaeology which examines human interaction in the past with the sea, lakes and rivers. This is carried out through the study of the surviving material cultural and physical remains such as shipwrecks or submerged landscapes. In Iceland, any remains of shipwrecks, dams, bridges, fords, landing places, harbour structures, moorings and slipways over 100yrs old are considered archaeological remains.
In this exhibition visitors will gain a number of fascinating insights about trade in Iceland during the 17th century, the Melckmeyt and its crew and the various methodologies used by marine archaeologists. On display are some of the artefacts recovered from the wreck.