Musket balls from the Great Northern War fond

Around fifty musket balls have been discovered during metal detecting under water near Moss, a town on the east side of the Oslo fjord. The Norwegian Maritime Museum has handled the find in collaboration with the finder and Østfold county council. After studying written historical sources, we now believe that these musket balls are remains from the Swedish army's actions in Moss during the Great Northern War in March and April 1716.

  • Ni kuler på en overflate, i bakgrunnen utsikt over ei bukt. (Foto/Photo)
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    A selection of the musket balls found near Moss. Some are showing signs of casting defects. Norsk Maritimt Museum/Jørgen Johannessen

During Charles XII of Sweden's military campaign in Norway the Swedish army decided to establish a supply depot in Moss. Opposing Danish-Norwegian troops arrived in Moss from both land and sea, beating the Swedish and looting their materiel. The Danish-Norwegian boats were filled with loot, and some loot was even carried over land to Fredrikstad by the hundreds of Swedish prisoners of war taken during the battle. Civilian vessels also had to be requisitioned to carry the remainder of the loot.

  • Brunt kart over Moss slik det så ut under Den store nordiske krigen. (Foto/Photo)
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    Map of Moss at the time of the Great Northern War. Moss historielag

However, the boats never made it out of Moss before the Swedish returned with additional troops. The remaining military equipment and ammunition, including several crates containing musket balls, cannon shot, hand grenades and gunpowder, was thrown in the sea. The recently discovered musket balls are most likely from this incident. Everything was thrown overboard to prevent the Swedish troops retaking their supplies, as the main force of the Danish-Norwegian army had already left for Fredrikstad.

As a direct consequence of the defeat in Moss, supply lines to Swedish troops in the Norwegian capital Christiania were broken, and Charles XII had to withdraw.

  • Kart fra 1718 viser et tredvetalls fartøy i sjøslag. (Foto/Photo)
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    Map showing a battle between Danish-Norwegian and Swedish ships near the town of Halden in November 1718. © Kartverket