Marine archaeological finds of international significance from the largest shipwreck catastrophe on the west coast of Jutland in 1811 when two English vessels of the line stranded offshore from Thorsminde and 1408 drowned.
The story of this tragic event will be told at a new stranding museum in Thorsminde opening in 2017.
During a hurricane on 24th December 1811, HMS Defence with a crew of 560 men stranded 2 km north of Thorsminde. Soon afterwards HMS St. George, with 865 crew on board, also stranded about 2 km south of Thorsminde. Crew-members struggled to save themselves. Lifeboats did not exist at that time and when the waves destroyed the two vessels, most of the crew drowned. Only 17 survived out of a total of 1425. This was the worst catastrophe to have taken place along the west coast of Denmark.
At many places in the sand dunes along the west coast there are ”Dead Men Hills” where many of the shipwrecked sailors are buried. In the area of the geopark there is a memorial stone on the spit 2 km south of Thorsminde for those lost from the St. George. The memorial is located onshore from the place where the St. George sank, and it is estimated that more than 100 mariners were buried here. Erosion by the sea has now removed all traces of the burial places so that only memories remain.
The Stranding Museum St. George and the Centre for Marine Archaeology at Thorsminde are part of the Cultural History Museums in Holstebro. They are responsible for research and marine archaeological studies along the west coast and in the fjords from Thyborøn in the north to the German border in the south, as well as in watercourses and lakes in the hinterland. In connection with this work a cooperative agreement has been made with the UNESCO International Centre for Underwater Archaeology in Croatia. The story of the wrecking of HMS St. George and HMS Defence is presented at the stranding museum that is in the process of rebuilding. New exhibitions will be opened in 2017 that will place the strandings in a broader context incorporating sea rescue attempts and the significance for the local population. The new museum will also present stories from the bottom of the sea concerning marine archaeology and submarine cultural heritage, including the discovery of settlements from the period before the area became covered by the sea.
Stranding Museum St. George is one of the major centres for communication in the geopark where a large part of its cultural history is described with focus on the underwater landscape in the North Sea.