World’s oldest message in bottle washes ashore


A message in a bottle thought to be the oldest in the world has been discovered off the coast of Germany after spending more than a century lost at sea. Inside the bottle were messages in English, German and Dutch, with instructions to return the bottle to England.

It was discovered by retired postal worker Marianne Winkler who was holidaying on the German Island of Amrum when she discovered the bottle floating in the sea. She told local paper the Amrum News that a note visible through the glass had instructions to “break the bottle.”

“My husband, Horst, carefully tried to get the message out of the bottle, but there was no chance, so we had to do as it said,” she said. Inside, the note asked whoever discovered the bottle to fill in details of where they had found it and send it back to the Marine Biological Association in Plymouth, UK.

The note said whoever found the bottle would be given one shilling. Staff at the association discovered that the bottle was one of 1,020 bottle cast into the North Sea at some point between 1904 and 1906 as part of an experiment to test the strength of ocean currents.

“It was quite a stir when we opened that envelope, as you can imagine,” Communications Director of the Marine Biological Association Guy Baker told the Telegraph.

“It was a time when they were inventing ways to investigate what currents and fish did. Many of the bottles were found by fishermen trawling with deep sea nets. Others washed up on the shore, and some were never recovered.

“Most of the bottles were found within a relatively short time. We’re talking months rather than decades,” he added. The association is now in contact with Guinness World Records to see if the bottle’s discovery breaks the current record of 99 years.

A shilling has also been sent to Marianne and Horst Winkler, just as promised.