Maritime Archaeology Trust
Visits and events
A visit to Exbury saw demonstrations of woodworking techniques using ancient ‘tools’ that would have been used to build boats. Participants had a chance to try out the tools and see a flint knapping demonstration.
Wood working techiniques being practiced
The section of ‘log boat’ found at Bouldnor Cliff, the 8,000 year old submerged Mesolithic (Middle Stone Age) site, would probably have been for use along rivers and lakes surrounding the area possibly for fishing. The Mesolithic people were hunter gathers, they were self-sufficient and not depending on the exchange of food or items such as tools (of which there have been hundreds discovered at the Bouldnor Cliff site, and many of a type that may have come from further afield).
The sophistication of some of the woodworking at Bouldnor demonstrates a technique not seen in the UK until the Neolithic (new Stone Age) over 2,000 years later. Also discovered at this site through the extraction of sedimentary ancient DNA was the existence of wheat (einkorn) which indicates that farmed wheat that emanated from the Middle East was here 2,000 years before it has been found elsewhere in the UK. As this seems to be a discrete sample it does not seem that it was cultivated here, but there is the possibility that it may have been brought from Western France where the cultivation of wheat has been recorded around 7,400 years ago. As sea levels were lower at this time it is possible that goods and influences reached the Isle of Wight from France along coastlines via estuaries with the aid of watercraft.
Butser Ancient Farm
At Buster Ancient Farm near Petersfield Ryan Watts demonstrated experimentalArchaeology he has been carrying out on the construction of ancient log boats/canoes. He gave an informative talk to the group, and we discovered that they are growing the ancient wheat, einkorn, of the type recorded at Bouldnor Cliff through sedimentary DNA.
A trip to Burley to the Shapely Bottom heritage event saw more participants learn about ancient craft and practice woodworking skills and other ancient arts such as rock carvings (carried out in soap in this case) and spear throwing (particulaly popular!)
Spear thowing, note the target, an Auroch (ancient cow)
Sunken Secrets is situated at Fort Victoria on the Isle of Wight, it houses the Alberghetti gun which is believed to have come from the Santa Lucia which was shipwrecked off Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight in 1567. Santa Lucia was a Spanish ship carrying a cargo of Wool to Flanders. As mentioned earlier, from the 15th century cannon became common place on ships to protect them from being hijacked for their ship and/or the cargo so it was no surprise to find that this ship had been carrying such a weapon in the 16th century. The beautiful bronze gun is a splendid example of how even the guns themselves might invite trouble from marauding vessels looking for 'bootie'. A mixed group went along to view the gun and take part in activities at Sunken Secrets.
Examining the markings on the gun that indicate where it originated from
Cleaning ancient wood to observe markings
Wood sampling workshop
A rare opportunity to help record some of the actual timbers that have been found at the 8,000 year old submerged landscape was offered through the Canoe to Canon project. Those lucky enough to attend (as spaces were limited) enjoyed learning about cleaning, identifying and conserving ancient waterlogged wood from wood experts.
Wood sampling workshop
Participants get to work on the Bouldnor Cliff samples under instruction