Medieval boat uncovered
ARCHAEOLOGISTS working on the north Suffolk coast have unearthed an early medieval boat.
Excavations being carried out in Sizewell in advance of the onshore works for the Greater Gabbard Wind Farm unearthed the remains of the craft.
The boat, which was probably a small inshore fishing vessel, had been broken up some time between the 12th and 14th Centuries and parts of the hull re-used to create a timber lining for a well, experts said.
The waterlogged conditions has ensured that the planks are very well preserved and this will allow archaeologists a rare opportunity for study. Although much more modest, the boat was constructed using the same techniques as the great Sutton Hoo ships.
The excavations are being undertaken by Suffolk County Council’s Archaeological Service and a council spokesman said: “It is clinker-built with the planks joined together along their edges with closely spaced iron rivets before being attached to the boat frame with wooden pegs; and there is evidence of luting, wool like fibres between the planks to seal the joints.
“It is hoped that tree-ring dating will provide an accurate date for the boat.”
Lisa Chambers, Suffolk County Council’s portfolio holder for economic and cultural development, said: “This is an extremely exciting find and gives us a rare opportunity to find out more about life in our county during medieval times.”
The site would have been part of the property of Leiston Abbey and is located outside Sizewell, which was an urban centre during the medieval period.
The site follows the edge of a low-lying channel, which would have formed a fresh water lagoon and would have been the focus for industrial activities.
Evidence of timber buildings, hearths and wood-lined water pits have been found clustered at the channel’s edge.
The spokesman added: “Hemp retting for the manufacture of linen and rope is known to have taken place in the area. This is a noxious process as there is documentary evidence of practitioners being fined for fouling the water.”
Finds include a wide range of pottery, dating from the 12th to 14th Centuries, part of a wooden platter, animal bones and various personal items such as buckles and clothing fasteners. Fishing hooks, weights and fish bones have also been found.
On the higher ground a large aisled barn, measuring 16m x 5m, and groups of external ovens suggest to archaeologists that the drying and storage of grain was also taking place.
The dig is being jointly funded by Greater Gabbard Off Shore Winds Ltd and South East Electricity Substation Alliance, a partnership between National Grid and construction companies AREVA, Skanska and Mott MacDonald.