During the last half century, especially since metal detectors have become popular, hobbyists are combing the fields in the Netherlands to find all kinds of metal artefacts. Regularly pieces of metal are found which turned out to be club heads of the ancient game of colf, the so-called ‘slofs’. Also in the centre of ancient towns such slofs are found during excavations.
To the amazement of the colf connoisseurs and the naval archaeologists such slofs are not only found on land but at sea as well. In the 1970s and 1980s, several wreckages of Netherlandish merchant vessels from the 16th and 17th centuries were discovered on the bottom of the sea, in which slofs and even complete colf clubs were excavated. These finds throw interesting new light on the history of colf and the equipment used in this game.
In this first part of ‘Nautical Archaeology’ we would like to discuss the excavation of the so-called ‘Biddinghuizer colf ship’ which sank in the Zuiderzee, present-day’s IJsselmeer, in 1540.