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New exhibit details more about the Dutch history of the Kalmar Nyckel, including its last battle

The Kalmar Nyckel sails by on a gorgeous October afternoon.
Kelli Steele
The Kalmar Nyckel sails by on a gorgeous October afternoon.

The Kalmar Nyckel Foundation’s new exhibit details the story of the original ship’s last battle.

More of The Kalmar Nyckel history is detailed in a new exhibit.

It features the story of the ship’s last battle in 1652 fighting for the Dutch against the English fleet off the coast of Scotland as it took its last voyage. It was ultimately sunk by the English on July 22, 1652.

The exhibit also features a commissioned painting of the Kalmar Nyckel by artist Patrick O’Brien as the ship was under Dutch control, after years of sailing under the Swedish flag.

The details of the ship’s last voyage unearthed thanks to detailed records kept by the Dutch which included documentation from the captain, the English, and court records following the battle.

“Because of all these documents we have more about this ship's voyage, and this action then the rest of the ship's career combined. And so we know more about this little incident, this episode, this last voyage, last battle, then anything else we know about the ship from the documents of the period," said Sam Heed, Senior Historian and Director of Education at the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation.

The last battle for the Kalmar Nyckel was the Battle of Buchan Ness, which was the first official engagement of the First Anglo-Dutch War.

Heed says the exhibit delves deep into the ship’s history.

"This also reminds us that she was a Dutch ship and built by the Dutch before she was a Swedish ship purchased by the Swedes in 1629, and then at the end of her days becomes a Dutch ship again,” said Heed. “It's a complicated story that is an interesting aspect to the ship's career."

The Battle of Buchan Ness: Epitaph for an Exceptional Ship exhibit opens this Saturday April 1 at the Copeland Maritime Center on 1124 East 7th Street in Wilmington from 12-4, and the opening event features tours, scavenger hunts, Lego Ship building, face painting, and snacks.

There will also be sail handling, cannon loading, and more.

Admission and parking are free.

Joe brings over 20 years of experience in news and radio to Delaware Public Media and the All Things Considered host position. He joined DPM in November 2019 as a reporter and fill-in ATC host after six years as a reporter and anchor at commercial radio stations in New Castle and Sussex Counties.