The Rigging and Gun Tackle Blocks of the Swedish Royal Warship Vasa

ECU Author/Contributor (non-ECU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Nathaniel Frantz Howe (Creator)
East Carolina University (ECU )
Web Site:
David Stewart

Abstract: Rigging blocks are absolutely essential to the operation of a large sailing vessel yet little has been published on these vital pieces of hardware. This thesis examines and analyzes the rigging and gun tackle blocks found in association with the Swedish royal warship Vasa lost in Stockholm Harbor on its maiden voyage on 10 August 1628. It explores the typology nomenclature historical development and the physical mechanics of block technology and its application aboard square-rigged ships from antiquity to the 17th century. Vasa's blocks are discussed in detail focusing on form distribution at the wreck site and interpretations of certain identifiable groups of blocks and a suggested reconstruction of the use and placement of these blocks in the rig. The final section compares Vasa's rigging and gun tackle blocks to other archaeological examples from the period and draws conclusions regarding the patterns of block design manufacturing methods and national rigging practices. This archaeological information is then combined with the limited historical sources available to deduce the nature of the working environment of the navy yard blockmaker and the broader social organization behind the production and usage of this vital hardware both onboard Vasa and in the navy yard. 

Additional Information

Date: 2011
Archaeology, European history, Dutch rigging, Marine technology, Maritime archaeology, Rigging blocks, Shipbuilding
Masts and rigging--Sweden--17th century
Shipbuilding--Sweden--17th century
Vasa (Warship)
Sweden--History--Gustav II Adolf, 1611-1632
Underwater archaeology--Sweden

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