Take the Dover Bronze Age boat to sea!
Take the Dover Bronze Age boat to sea!
Help us to make our beautiful half-scale replica of the Dover Bronze Age boat sea worthy, and then launch her for sea trials.
Help us to make our beautiful half-scale replica of the Dover Bronze Age boat sea worthy, and then launch her for sea trials. Read more
About this project
We took some oak.....and made a replica of a 3,500 year old boat.....
We tried to float it....but didn't have enough time to make it seaworthy......
....before it had to go on display in France and Belgium....
Now we need your help to take it apart again and make it seaworthy......
This project by Canterbury Archaeological Trust is about ancient technology and experimental archaeology. We are seeking a minimum of £20,000 to enable us to take our half-scale replica of the Dover Bronze Age boat to sea for the first time. The replica was built using traditional Bronze Age tools and techniques in 2012. An attempt was made to launch the boat in Dover harbour, but the construction of the boat had taken longer than expected. As a result there wasn’t enough time to make the boat watertight before it had to be moved to France to take part in a major exhibition, as part of the European Union-funded project, BOAT 1550 BC (see here for more background on the BOAT 1550 BC project).
The replica is currently on display in Ename, Belgium, but will return to Dover in June 2013. The rest of the exhibition, entitled Beyond the Horizon and featuring Bronze Age finds drawn from either side of the Channel, will re-open in Dover Museum in July. But is hoped, during July and August 2013, to strip down the replica boat and rebuild it to make it watertight. Having learnt the lessons of our previous attempt, and now with sufficient time, our team of experts, led by ancient technology specialist Richard Darrah, are confident that this time they can succeed in making the boat seaworthy.
Once that is done, the boat will be launched and taken to sea, initially in Dover Harbour, but ultimately into the Channel and along the coast to Folkestone. The funds are needed to pay for the specialists’ time and expenses, plus the expenses associated with harbour launch fees and the hire of safety boats. Those backers who pledge £500 or more will be given the opportunity of having a place in the crew of the boat, either in the initial sea trials or in subsequent launches.
The Dover Bronze Age boat itself was discovered over twenty years ago, during road works in Dover. Archaeologists from Canterbury Archaeological Trust discovered the fantastically well-preserved timbers of the boat, dating from around 3500 years ago, at the bottom of a deep shaft dug by the road builders. The boat, which may have originally measured over 16m in length, is one of the oldest sea-going vessels ever discovered, an early cross-channel ferry if you like.It has been preserved and is now on display in a purpose-built gallery in Dover Museum.
The Dover Bronze Age Boat Trust was set up to manage the conservation and display of the boat and the Trust continues to work to ensure the long term care and promotion of this internationally important vessel. The BOAT 1550 BC project is just the latest way in which the boat has been used to highlight the close cultural links that existed between communities on either side of the Channel over 3000 years ago. That project is proving to be a huge success; it has achieved the construction of the half-scale replica, includes work with schools in England, France and Belgium, and thousands of people have visited the exhibition in Boulogne and now Ename. But the replica has yet to go to sea, and the BOAT 1550 BC project does not have the funds to support another attempt at launching it, hence the creation of this Kickstarter project.
The boat CAN be made seaworthy, and if this is done, then the boat replica will have many years of useful life ahead of it. It will be used as often as possible at local and national events to publicise the Dover Boat gallery in Dover Museum, and to help draw attention and visitors to Dover itself. In addition, the construction of the replica was filmed by Time Team. If we launch it they will film that and broadcast a special episode on the project, bringing the boat, the boat gallery and Dover to a very wide audience.
So please back this project and help us take a sewn-plank boat onto the waters of the Dover Straits for the first time in over 3000 years. The replica boat is a splendid and stunning piece of craftsmanship; it was designed to go to sea. By backing this project you can play a part in transforming the boat from a static exhibit to a living, working vessel, which can be used to promote archaeology and Dover, and educate people on both sides of the Channel about their shared past, for many years to come.
The Project Team that will be carrying out the work and overseeing the whole project includes the following people:
Richard Darrah is an archaeologist who specialises in ancient timber. His main interests lie in studying excavated timber, doing reconstructions using ancient techniques and working with cleft oak. He started in archaeology in 1962 and has been deeply involved in experimental archaeology for many years. Richard was a key member of the analysis team who studied the Dover Bronze Age boat in the 1990's, developing new techniques for studying and recording ancient timbers and building a full scale replica of a 3m section of the boat in 1996. In recent years Richard worked with the world-famous nautical archaeologist, the late ole Crumlin-Pedersen, re-assessing the ancient timbers of the Dover Boat so that the 2012 boat reconstruction, which he led, could be built using the most up-to-date and sophisticated understanding of the original Bronze Age vessel.
Robin Wood is an internationally respected wood worker specialising in use of local timbers and traditional techniques. His decades of practical experience are complemented by extensive scholarly research, culminating in the publication of the definitive book on the history of the wooden bowl. Robin was a key member of the team who created the half-scale reconstruction of the Dover boat in 2012.
Rachel Head works at the East Sussex Archaeology and Museums specialising in traditional construction methods and sustainable building techniques.Rachel was also a part of the team who built the half-scale reconstruction of the Dover boat in 2012.
Peter Clark is Deputy Director of the Canterbury Archaeological Trust. He was the Scientific Director of the multidisciplinary analysis team that studied the original Dover boat and published the definitive academic study of the vessel in 2004. He was also responsible for re-assembling the original boat in Dover Museum for public display, and for setting up the international ‘BOAT 1550 BC’ project for which he is the UK Co-ordinator.
Paul Bennett is Director of the Canterbury Archaeological Trust, a post he has held since 1984 and is the current Chair of the Dover Bronze Age Boat Trust. Paul has played a leading role in overseeing all aspects of the boat’s story, from its discovery in 1992, through its conservation and display, to the construction of the half-scale replica in 2012. He is one of the most experienced archaeological directors in the UK, and has also worked extensively overseas, most notably in Libya. Paul is also an experienced mariner; he is a member of the crew of the Thames barge Mirosa and he also owns and sails his own estuary cruiser Venture.
Andrew Richardson is Outreach Manager of the Canterbury Archaeological Trust and is also a Trustee of the Dover Bronze Age Boat Trust. He is experienced in the development and delivery of community archaeology projects, at working with volunteers and with the presentation of archaeological results to the public.
Risks and challenges
Experimental archaeology is not an exact science; hence the replica boat took longer than expected to build, which didn't allow the necessary time to make the boat seaworthy before it was removed to the exhibition in France. Lots of lessons were learned along the way, and we are now confident that we can make the boat sea worthy. But putting a boat built using 3500 year old technology to sea is not a risk-free exercise. The main risks and challenges for this project are, therefore, whether the boat can be made sufficiently seaworthy to be launched and handled under modern safety standards. We believe the answer is 'yes' and our team of experts includes leading specialists in ancient boats and technology. When the re-caulked boat is put to sea it will be with a safety boat in attendance, having been tested first in the calm waters of Wellington Dock. From there it will be tested within Dover Harbour. Only then will we take to boat onto the open waters of the Channel and along the coast to Folkestone.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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