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3,500 Year-Old Log Boats

Archaeologists Dig up Eight 3,500 Year-Old Log Boats

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Eight Bronze Age log boats have been dug out of the ground from the now silted up course of the River Nene near Peterborough and are now being preserved for study and for the public to see and learn about.  It is the first time that so many Bronze Age boats have been found in one location and the finding may help to increase knowledge of the settlements located in the Flag Fen landscape.

The boats, the largest of which is 28 feet long, are thought to be up to 3,500 years-old and, according to Ian Panter of the York Archaeological Trust, are likely to have been used for transporting cargo and passengers in the Fens.

One peculiarity about the finding is that the boats appear to have been purposely sunk, but separately during different time periods. One theory is that the boats were sunk as offerings to the gods or spirits, just as swords and spears were offered in the same river, while other historians have suggested that they may have been sunk during winter to prevent them drying out and somehow became lost or forgotten.

Each of the boats was hewn from a single tree trunk, six of them oaks, one alder and one lime. One of them was decorated with criss-cross patterns on the inside and outside of the vessel and all of them display repair and patch work, which suggests they were used for a long time and greatly valued by their owners.

‘It’s telling us quite a lot about woodworking in the Bronze Age,' said Mr Panter. ‘I think we are looking at something which certainly from the construction of the vessels and the way they have been maintained, it was quite an advanced technology.’

The boats have been moved to a special facility where they will be sprayed with a special wax for preservation and where they can be viewed by the public.

By April Holloway

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