Sunday, August 10, 2008

Update on Dover Bronze Age Boat

A few months ago I described the Dover Bronze Age Boat here. Discovered in 1992, it is the most elaborate boat of its age (1500 BC) yet to be discovered in Europe. Sitting at the cusp between dugout technology and planked construction, the vessel was constructed of four lengthwise sections of oak logs, elaborately hollowed to fit together in the shape of a boat and then lashed together with small split branches (withies) of yew. Terrible technology, since there was little structure to prevent the log sections from working against one another, but really impressive woodworking and clearly on the right road toward the right technology.

Now some of the same archaeologists who have been involved with the boat since its discovery have a new project to build a full-size (10 meter) replica and test it on a voyage from Folkestone, England, to Wissant, France in 2010. Read the full article in on the Stone Pages website, here.

It is assumed that the original boat was paddled, not rowed or sailed. (The boat probably had one more set of strakes above those recovered in the excavation, and it is possible that evidence for some provisions for rowing might have been lost, but lacking those upper strakes, and lacking any evidence for the use of oars in England at the time, the use of paddles must be assumed.) The replica, therefore, will be crewed by volunteers from the British Dragon Boat Association, who have some experience paddling large open craft -- although to the best of my knowledge, dragon boat racing is always done in protected waters and not on anything as boisterous as the English Channel. Should be interesting.

Photo of reconstruction model from the BBC. Painting from

1 comment:

  1. Dragonboats have indeed been paddled across the English Channel in modern times. Kate Middleton now HRH Duchess of Cambridge is a former helmsman of an all-women's crew. (Prince William also once paddled dragonboats as part of a crew at his school.)