Graveney boat

This Anglo-Saxon boat was discovered in 1970 near the village of Graveney, near Whitstable, in north Kent, England. The vessel lay in a silted watercourse in what is now an old marsh.

Pottery found with the boat is of 8-9th century type. Attempts have been made to date the boat by C 14 (AD 944 +/- 30), and by dendrochronology. The latter in 1978 gave a date of AD 927 +/- 2, and this was revised in 1983 to AD 895 +/- 2. But in 1994 it was not possible to obtain a dendro match.

The boat was of oak and was clinker built, its remains being 8.9m long, 3.4m wide and up to 1.5m high. A flat keel had eight strakes fastened to ten frames. Iron rivets, some fastened through wooden pegs, held the overlapping strakes, with a caulking of wool treated with vegetable tar. The frames were attached to the strakes by treenails of willow. Three of the frames had recesses unevenly placed over the centreline just possibly suggesting that there had once been a mast-step timber - but this is far from certain as the recesses had been filled with rough pieces of wood. The boat was presumably pointed at both ends originally, though only part of the stern had survived.

The boat has been reconstructed at about 13.60m long, 4m wide and 1m high amidships. A hydrostatic study shows that it was seaworthy and was capable of sailing with a cargo of 6-7 tonnes. The low freeboard, however, would make the boat dangerous in a rough sea.

Fragments of Mayen lava querns and traces of hops suggest former cargoes.

The remains of this boat were recovered by the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.

Main Publication:

V. Fenwick, The Graveney Boat. 1978, British Archaeological Reports, British Series 53.

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