The Life and Times of a Merchant sailor: History and Archaeology of the Norwegian Ship Catharine

Jason Mac Burns

          The remains of the Norwegian ship Catharine were archaeologically documented in 1998. Originally christened as Eliza in 1870, the ship sailed from its building site in St. John, New Brunswick to Liverpool, England, where she was quickly sold to British owners and renamed Carnarvonshire. Historical documents indicate that the ship served twenty years in the British Merchant Marine and was eventually sold to Norwegian owners. Drawn to Pensacola by its growing lumber industry, the newly named Catharine attempted to make the pass and grounded on August 7, 1894.
          Uncovered by hurricanes and harsh winter storms, the shipwreck site laid vulnerable to the environment and humans alike. Alerted by conscientious sport divers to potential looting activities, the National Park Service requested that the Archaeology Institute at the University of West Florida document the site archaeologically and provide conservation treatments to artifacts recovered from the site.
          Shipwrecks are excellent representatives of their culture and often have a unique history of their own. For this reason, they should be viewed diachronically through time. The history and archaeology of the Norwegian ship Catharine is presented in a broad perspective through site documentation, oral interviews, and historical research. It is hoped that, this work will serve to clarify the historical record, not merely embellish it.