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A hymn board from the golden ship

The artifact of the week is no. R-1870. It is a beautifully painted lid from a wooden chest. It was used as a hymn board in the Steinakirkja church under the Eyjafjöll mountains, and from 1895 forward in the Eyvindarhólar church. It originated, however, aboard the Dutch East India Company vessel Het Wapen van Amsterdam. The ship stranded out by Skeiðarársandur on September 19th 1667.
The ship‘s history is somewhat famous in Iceland, because records from the time indicated that it was carrying very valuable cargo, such as gold and other precious metals. This has drawn the attention of both treasure hunters and media eager to find the wreck, speculated to be buried in the black sand. However, records from the time indicate that it may have been torn apart and stripped of valuables according to maritime law.
Het Wapen was on its way home to the Netherlands from Indonesia. It had laid up near the Shetland Islands, because those on board anticipated attacks from the British navy. Britain and the Netherlands were at war at the time. The ship was waiting for an escort home by Dutch navy ships, when a storm blew it off course to Iceland. It was one of the deadliest shipwrecks on the Icelandic coast in history – of the 200 persons aboard Het Wapen, 140 died and only 50-60 were rescued.
Those on board are thought to have rescued what they could of the cargo, but the Danish king laid claim to it according to maritime law. The Dutch were not happy about this, but much of the cargo is thought to have been seized by the Danish government in Iceland.
The ship has fascinated many Icelanders for generations and many attempts have been made to find it. The most extensive search was made by Bergur Lárusson and Kristinn Guðmundsson between 1960-1983. The „golden ship“ was never found, but ever so often, efforts to locate it and its cargo pop up in newspapers.

Guided tours

Guided tours are available upon reservation in English, German and Icelandic. Sometimes there is the opportunity to have guided tours in French, Spanish, Norwegian and Danish.

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