Monday, August 27, 2012

Updates on Old and Ancient Canoes

A couple years ago, I noted briefly the discovery of a 230-year-old Canadian birchbark canoe, believed to be the oldest surviving example, in an English barn. At that time, a plan had been announced to transfer it to the Canadian Canoe Museum for study and conservation. The transfer has now been effected, and there are two good articles, one in the Winnipeg Free Press focusing on the news of the transfer, the other, by bark canoe expert Henri Vaillancourt in WoodenBoat, focusing on the canoe itself and its history (after following the link, click the tab "Open Article" for a readable version).

More recently, I noted the discovery of the remains of a Bronze-Age settlement in Whittlesey, near Peterborough, England, that included six dugout canoes. I recently came across an article in The Guardian/The Observer that included the photo above, a much better one than I could find for my earlier post. In addition to the thinness of the hull, indicating the sophisticated skill of the canoe's builder, the photo shows how the excavation left transverse beams of earth intact across the hull to retain its shape.

Back to the subject of birchbarks, here's a fine video illustrating their construction in great detail:

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