Cogs were used by merchantmen to bring their goods across the seas: whine, beer, crops, salt, furs, fish and many other kinds of merchandise were transported in this manner. These merchants were so successful, that their cities prospered like few others and that they were even able to take decisive influence onto the politics of northern Europe for several centuries. Even today, there are cities proudly boasting the addendum “Hanseatic city” to their names. The ships of the times begone, however, disappeared centuries ago. What they looked like had been forgotten. In 1962, however, construction workers dug up a wooden ship in Bremen, that was identified as a complete Hanseatic cog. After 38 years of reconstruction (from 2000 individual components!), examination and preservation, the ship was presented to the public in May 2000 in the German Maritime Museum in Bremen.
Not all, but many of the secrets of the ancient ships were lifted. It had been crafted from wood that was brought from Kassel to the coast downriver in 1380. The ship’s construction was almost complete, when a flooding of the Weser tore it away from its quay and let it sink. The cog remained exactly where it had sunk for almost 600 years. With a length of 23 meters our cog certainly is not the largest ship of this type that ever existed. Its main characteristics are the bulging hull, that was mainly clincher-built (planks lapping over at the sides), an elevated stern platform (the so-called Kastell deck), the middle rudder and the large pole mast equipped with a square sail. After this sensational discovery, several reproductions of the cog true to the original were built. These ships are used today for tours with tourists.
Dr. Siegfried Stölting, Deutsches Schiffahrtsmuseum Bremerhaven