the Dover Boat woodworking in 1550BC

The most complete example of advanced technical woodworking from Bronze age Europe is the Dover Boat, built around 1550BC and discovered during construction of a new underpass in 1992. Despite the rarity and importance of the find archaeologists had only 7 days to excavate and remove the first section of the boat from site before work continued. A second excavation recovered a further section of the boat but the final section remains in the ground to this day. I have a deep interest in early woodworking technologies so to be offered the chance to work on the construction of a half scale replica of the boat was pretty much my dream job. 10 week being paid to explore working with bronze tools full time gives me the opportunity to really get to grips with the technology, to experiment with lots of different ways of shaping, sharpening, hefting and using the tools. I am writing this on McDonals free wifi after our press day, attended by around a hundred journalists from England France and Belgium, sadly I can’t upload photos but you can see some of my photos on the Daily Mail website Here The article suggests we will take 2 years to complete the boat, but as far as I know the plan is 10 weeks, watch this space for more updates and next post will be from home with pics.

Here is an index for all blog posts on the Dover boat project

bronze-age-woodworking-tools-early thoughts
woodworking-marathon-continued-just 18 hours to go.
dover-boat-launch-day-end-of-3-months work.
the boat-that-didnt-float.

9 Responses to the Dover Boat woodworking in 1550BC

  1. miss rika March 6, 2012 at 10:00 pm #

    Awesome! Can't wait for pics!

  2. Joel March 6, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    That's really something Robin! You're lucky to be involved in this. How big is the original thought to have been and how big is the 1/2 size replica? Also I see paddles on one of the pics …were there paddles excavated as well?

  3. Brian March 7, 2012 at 11:48 am #

    Way too cool. Who handled the naval architecture bit? Hard to scale down a boat correctly. Girls get older, I am definitely going to see if I can get involved in some of these projects.

  4. Robin Wood March 7, 2012 at 1:58 pm #

    Paddles not found so we are basing designs on the best we can find, a bronze age oar from essex, several Neolithic paddles iron age paddles from the hyortspring boat etc.Richard Darrah is lead builder but has consulted a lot with other experts in early boatbuilding .

  5. Mark March 7, 2012 at 5:29 pm #

    Facinating. Any chance archealogists will return to retrieve anymore from the site? It is a pity that construction could not accomodate further study.

  6. Brian March 7, 2012 at 6:03 pm #

    You know Robin, it is hard to say how good it is to see this kind of stuff. The other day, my neighbor handed me a plough plane he had found under a 19th century wooden floor in Paris 20 years ago. I cleaned it up and sharpened the iron and used it to cut the grooves to take the panels on a bed for my oldest daughter. My neighbor, a retired plumber, thought that was pretty cool.This afternoon, I was talking to him and told him about your project – OK, let's cast some bronze axes and hew a boat out of a tree, and he looked at me like I was crazy. Really daft, until I collared him and showed him the photos. He said, "Putain,ils sont fous,ces gens"

  7. Brad March 9, 2012 at 9:24 pm # you'd enjoy this video – this craftsman is incredible!Brad

  8. Robin Wood April 23, 2012 at 6:48 am #

    Brad that is fantastic thanks.