Journal of Archaeology in the Low Countries 4-1 (October 2012)Thijs Maarleveld; Alice Overmeer: Aanloop Molengat – Maritime archaeology and intermediate trade during the Thirty Years’ War1
3 The Aanloop Molengat cargo

3.13 Nails in barrels

The remains of five barrels have been found, solidly concreted and with indistinct contents. One of these was recovered in 1992. The cask has a height of 67 cm, a minimum diameter of 41 cm at top and bottom and a maximum diameter of 51 cm in the middle. The weight of the object is 302 kg. Staves, hoops, barrel lid and bottom are decayed, but the grain of the wood is still visible in the iron concretion. The cask was X-rayed and proved to be filled to the brim with square wrought-iron nails in a jumble (Stassen 1997).[10] Since entering the conservation lab, the block of nails has been used as a training and testing object for iron conservation and restoration. Many nails have been chipped off. All nails are straight, complete and unused. They vary considerably in length (6.3 to 13.7 cm, n=30) and cross-section (rectangular, 4 to 7 mm), but are clearly not scrap (fig. 42). Consequently, they are either cargo or spare parts (Blok forthcoming). If the other five barrels also contain nails, which is likely if we are dealing with cargo, the shipment would account for at least 1.5 tons. The lifted barrel does not seem to have been the largest.

The 18th-century Dutch East India Company (VOC) is known to have ordered nails of various sizes from the forges in Liège. The nails were delivered in baskets and repacked into casks. The repacking was done in a careful radial pattern (Gawronski 1996, 281-282), very different from what we see here. Other wrecks in the Texel Roads, for instance Texelstroom IV (Kleij 1992a), have produced barrels of nails that were packed in the same jumble.


Figure 42 Nails from barrel AM-106.1.2, of various lengths (photo: K. Blok (RCE)).