Round Pegs and Square Holes: The Casks from Vasa.

Author(s): John E Ratcliffe

Year: 2018


The casks from Vasa exhibit features infrequently observed in other collections of archaeological cooperage, including distinctive square holes at their midsections, heads that are made of only two to four edge-joined pieces, and evenly spaced bands of hoops. In contrast, Iberian and French cooperage typically exhibits exclusively circular bungholes, heads made of five or six pieces reinforced with a bar, and hoops clustered at opposite ends of the cask. The square-holed Vasa casks were made of oak timber, and commonly had internal volumes of between 132 and 146 liters. Finds of animal bones indicate that some held salt meat, while contextual and iconographic evidence suggests others may have held beer, and possibly gunpowder. Comparison with other sites suggests the Vasa casks represent a distinctive style of cask, common across the Baltic and northwestern Europe from the medieval period until the nineteenth century.

Cite this Record

Round Pegs and Square Holes: The Casks from Vasa.. John E Ratcliffe. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2018 ( tDAR id: 441959)


casks cooperage. Vasa

Geographic Keywords
Canada North America

Temporal Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -141.003; min lat: 41.684 ; max long: -52.617; max lat: 83.113 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 315