The Maritime Archaeology Trust has been investigating the maritime archaeology of the Hamble River in Hampshire (UK) over a period of several years. This ancient waterway has been an important route into the heart of Hampshire for millenia and there are numerous remains of archaeological sites around the river, including wrecks, wharfs, jetties, shipbuilding sites, oyster beds and bridges.
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The Trust has produced an excellent series of short audio guides/podcasts to be enjoyed as you walk along the River Hamble. It provides fascinating insights into the history of the area and tells the story behind some of the vessels that have been abandoned on the River Hamble's foreshore.
The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) awarded a grant to the Maritime Archaeology Trust (under our old name the Hampshire and Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology) to enable a programme of recording and investigation of the archaeological remains of watercraft and their associated maritime infrastructure on the River Hamble. It is evident that there is a wealth of heritage connected to the maritime past around the river margins. This project enabled us to research and record these important remains to create an archive of information which is fully accessible and will aid future management of these sites.
Local residents and river users are an invaluable resource for this project and team members have interviewed local people. Many people have an extensive knowledge of the river and if such knowledge is not recorded it runs the risk of being lost forever. These memories of the river and its history can give an insight into the origin, date, identity and function of many features found on the river and are used to supplement field investigations, where local knowledge will continue to present a new perspective to our work.
The Hamble logboat was discovered in 1888 during the construction of a new boathouse on the estate of Fairthorn Manor, at the junction of the Hamble River and Curbridge Creek. The logboat measures 4m long by 0.76m wide and is formed from a single oak tree. The finding of the logboat was reported in the Hampshire Chronicle on the 13th October 1888 in the following way;
"AN ARCHAEOLOGICAL DISCOVERY of the greatest interest has been made this week in the tidal river Hamble. At the point of junction of the Curbridge Creek with the river, some considerable distance above the still existing wreck of the Danish man-of-war, a boat house is being built, and in order to make sufficient waterway the workmen removed the mud and alluvial soil. Something hard was encountered and, thanks to one of the workmen having an intelligent taste for antiquities, the obstruction was carefully uncovered, and proved to be a portion of a possible pre-historic canoe, certainly pre-Roman. It is a few feet higher up the river than the old Roman hardway or landing place, and was evidently sunk close on shore."
The area where the logboat was found has also been noted for its Roman remains, including a villa site and the remains of pottery kilns. Because of this, it has long been assumed that the logboat was Roman in date, or possibly even earlier. The logboat was loaned to the Southampton City Museum by the Botley Market Hall Committee in 1913 and is now kept in the SeaCity Museum Store.
The Trust has investigated the history of the logboat and most importantly to find out the date of the vessel as a way to guide further research. The vessel is made from oak and is therefore suitable to be dated using dendrochronology. Funding for this was provided by the Roman Research Trust and was carried out by Nigel Nayling of Lampeter University. This has revealed that the logboat is in fact Saxon, dating from AD 668-704. Further investigation of the vessel is planned, that may shed new light on Saxon maritime activity in the Solent Region. A report into our investigation of the logboat is available to download.