Bronze age Boat Building pictures

Now I am home I can finally update with pictures of the exciting project I am working on.
In 1992 during construction of an underpass in Dover the remains of a stitched plank boat were discovered. It has never had as much press as the Mary Rose but from an archaeological point of view it is equally as interesting. It is said to be the oldest surviving seagoing vessel in the world and dates from 1550BC. This is the original excavation trench photographed by Canterbury Archaeological Trust.

And here is the boat as it appears today in Dover Museum

The main timbers are held together with twisted yew stitches and strengthened with laths hammered through raised cleats.

Our project is to build a half size replica using a mix of modern and ancient techniques, when we arrived on site Dover was under a very unusual 4″ of snow so the first job was to clear the snow from site. Next we used levers and bars to set up working platforms of railway sleepers and position the main timbers on them.

These are the four main timbers for the bottom planks and iles. The main conversion was done by saw partly to save timber, partly to save time and partly because having done it before we did not have as many questions to answer about the cleaving and rough hewing process that would get the timber to this stage.

Another 2 days went into setting up chap marquees and reinforcing and lashing them down securely since they are really designed for one day parties rather than 3 months working.

Some of the snow we shifted, not sure if they will show up but there were lots of fox footprints including a track running up the hill here.

 Here is team leader Richard Darrah giving us an evening presentation about the history and structure of the boat. Because it is incomplete and the timbers rather squashed and distorted the precise shape is open to debate, the design we are using is the result of extensive research by Richard and in consulktation with Viking shipbuilding expert Ole Crumlin-Pedersen. But that is not my department I just have to cut the shape that has been decided.

 The other main hewer on the job is Trevor Marsden who has worked with Richard before on a replica of the Ferriby boat.

They are still sizable chunks of timber, I guess this one ways a little under 1/2 a ton.

 and off I go hewing the first rough shape with my Japanese axe.

 large scallops left from the axe, at this stage I was still thinking the bronze tools would be hopelessly slow and was keen to do as much with the steel axes as possible, I was in for a surprise.

lots more to come in separate posts.
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.

4 Responses to Bronze age Boat Building pictures

  1. Survival in the Wasteland March 11, 2012 at 5:33 pm #

    what an amazing find… were there any other artifacts found with th' boat? bowls, bows, pottery, etc? ~rico

  2. Joel March 11, 2012 at 5:37 pm #

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Joel March 11, 2012 at 5:40 pm #

    it's going to be very interesting to see this boat develop and grow! How big is the replica going to be?

  4. rika March 11, 2012 at 7:08 pm #

    So very interesting! Thanks for posting. Am curious, as well, about other articles found with it. Any speculation amongst the crew, or do they keep you too busy?