The Cog: A Medieval Chatterbox

My name is The Cog. I’m a medieval shipwreck. Found in 2000 during construction works in the harbor of Antwerp (Belgium). A dendrochronologist was able to date my wood. He told me it was chopped in the winter of 1325-1326. Somewhere in the northwest of Germany.

This is how I was found in the Deurganckdok (Antwerp) in 2000. (Copyright ADW)

Since my discovery I just can’t stop talking. But what did you expect? I was lying there, under a sedimentary layer of 7 metres, for several centuries. Nobody to share my thoughts or feelings with. Doomed to pass my days in solitude. Until this huge crane brought me light in the darkness – and unfortunately also a stabbing pain in my hull.

The age-long pressure of the sediment on my timbers caused an annoying selective amnesia. I don’t remember where I come from. Who built me and which waterways I may have sailed. But what fascinates me most is the strange position I was found in. Upside down. Without any remains of a possible cargo or mast. How did this happen? Did I founder in a violent storm or a devastating deluge? Or was I already put on inactive for a while?

Colleagues from the Flanders Heritage Agency registrating my wood with the FARO-arm. (Copyright Kris Vandevorst)

I was lucky to find some interested experts who wanted to help me out. During my research project, carried out by the Flanders Heritage Agency, I discover new truths about my past. Together with the broad public. Because that is what I do: I involve the public in a direct and personal way and I try to make the output of my research more accessible. Let’s be honest. What is more attractive for a non-scientific public: live updates through social media with pictures and results hot from the press or a well-considered written final report with the main scientific results and conclusions?

A ‘fait divers’ or an important discovery in my research. By blogging, tweeting (@dekogge) and facebooking, I launch my story for those who wish to follow it. Day in day out, I wear my heart on my sleeve (or should I say timber?). For the sake of my own memory. And in favor of our common past.