NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Plan to protect Shetland's 270-year-old Swedish shipwreck

Diver at wreck site Image copyright HES
Image caption A public consultation is being held on protecting the wreck site in Shetland

The 18th Century wreck of the flagship vessel in the Swedish East India Company's fleet could be given protected status.

The Drottningen af Swerige - the Queen of Sweden - hit a rock and sank off Lerwick in Shetland in January 1745.

The ship was headed for Cadiz in Spain to pick up supplies before heading to China when it was caught in a blizzard.

Historic Environment Scotland is consulting on protecting the wreck.

It has proposed a Historic Marine Protected Area (HMPA) designation.

HMPA status aims to preserve marine historic assets of national importance, so they can be "protected, valued and understood".

Among the protections the designation offers is prohibiting commercial exploitation of a site.

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) said the Queen of Sweden wreck was "arguably the best preserved remains" of a merchant sailing vessel of the Swedish East India Company located in waters around Scotland.

Tea and silk

Philip Robertson, deputy head of designations at HES, said: "The sinking of the Queen of Sweden was a significant event in the history of the Shetland Isles.

"The wreckage that remains is a marine heritage site of national importance that can greatly enhance our knowledge and understanding of the Swedish East India Company and its trading activity around Scotland's coasts during the 18th Century.

"We believe that designating the site as a Historic MPA will promote its heritage value, and I'd like to encourage as many people as possible to take this opportunity to share their views about this important piece of our nation's priceless marine heritage."

The Swedish East India Company played a part in northern Europe's trade with China in tea and silk.

The Queen of Sweden was the flagship and largest vessel of the company's fleet.

Its crew, who survived the sinking, had sought to take the ship into sheltered waters of Bressay Sound in blizzard conditions when the vessel hit the rock.

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