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A 3,000-Year-Old Voyage Of Discovery (Scotland)
Scotsman ^ | 8-1-2006 | Jennifer Veitch

Posted on 08/01/2006 2:50:30 PM PDT by blam

A 3,000-year-old voyage of discovery


Men would have used this type of log boat to fish and hunt, as well as to trade goods with others, as this drawing exhibits. Picture: Courtesy Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust

IN ANCIENT times, when Scotland was virtually covered in dense forest, there was only one way to get around. Traveling by boat helped early Scots to find food and trade goods with their neighbours.

The work to extract the boat from the river bed is slow and painstaking. Picture: Courtesy Historic Scotland

Now, with the excavation of a 3,000-year-old log boat, archaeologists are hoping to learn more about how prehistoric Scots used the vast network of rivers and lochs.

The Bronze Age dug-out was found in mudflats at Carpow, on the south side of the River Tay estuary, in autumn 2001. A group of three amateur archaeologists – Scott McGuckin, Martin Brooks and Robert Fotheringham – had spotted the worn but still recognisable prow of boat sticking out from the mud and peat.

Radio carbon tests conducted later dated the 30-foot-long log boat, which had been carved out of a single piece of oak, to around 1000BC. This means the Carpow boat is the second-oldest dated log boat ever found in Scotland, and it is also one of the best preserved.

While the remains of 30 log boats survive today – the oldest was a stern portion of a log boat, carbon dated to 1800BC found in Dumfriesshire in 1973 – most are in extremely poor condition. The Carpow boat is not only still in one piece but it also has an intact transom board at the stern.

David Strachan, archaeologist at the Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust (PKHT), says the log boat was a hugely significant find. "It is fantastic. Generally log boats found in Scotland tend to date from 500BC to 1000AD. This boat dates from 1000BC so that puts it in the later Bronze Age, so it's quite an early example.

"Since it was discovered, we did an initial excavation, primarily to find out how long the boat was, the date, and to find out how well-preserved the buried portion of the boat was. That showed us that the buried end is very well-preserved, including having a very intact stern board – a transom board. That is very rare."

The boat was found on an eroding peat shelf, and is only visible twice a day at low tide. Archaeologists believe it was washed downstream from either the River Tay or the River Earn, another tributary of the Tay estuary.

At first, it was decided to leave the boat where it was found, but tests showed it was being damaged by the tides and the weather. Now archaeologists from the PKHT, in partnership with Perth Museum, Historic Scotland and the National Museums of Scotland (NMS), are preparing to lift it onto dry land to be conserved.

Excavation work began in late July and – weather and tides permitting – the boat will be lifted out of the mud, using a special floating cradle. Plans to begin this critical next step are tentatively set for mid-August.

"We will take the boat out in three sections as there is a danger it may snap if it is lifted in once piece," says Strachan. "Hopefully it will tell us a lot about how Bronze Age boats were constructed."

Archaeologists work to safely remove thousands of years of earth from the log boat. Picture: Courtesy Historic Scotland

The boat will undergo conservation work by Dr Theo Skinner of NMS – a process expected to take three years – before being put on display to the public, first at Perth Museum and then in Edinburgh.

An Historic Scotland spokesman said: "This is a tremendously exciting piece of archaeology. It will help us make new advances in understanding our prehistoric ancestors – how they lived, worked and even traded in a land which was mountainous and had no roads but had a tremendous network of rivers and lochs."

Log boats are recorded from as long ago as 7000BC in Denmark, and 150 having been discovered in Scotland. Seven log boats were discovered in the Tay area in the 19th century, but only one, dating from around 500AD, still survives and is now on display in Dundee Museum.

It is believed people would have used the boat to go fishing, hunting for wild fowl, and even to ferry people across the Tay estuary.

Barrie Andrian, managing director of the Crannog Centre, in Kenmore, Perthshire, and herself an underwater archaeologist, said: "We are very interested in this log boat. It's one of the oldest boats found in Scotland and the fact that it is so well-preserved is significant from a research point of view.

"It's a great find for Scotland."

TOPICS: News/Current Events; United Kingdom
KEYWORDS: 3000; discovery; godsgravesglyphs; old; voyage; year
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To: AFreeBird
Central Texas used to be the same way. The Eastern Cross Timbers ended here in Waco, and the local natives at a Wichita(spelling wrong) village named Quiscat from around 1782 used to float pine trees down Aquila Creek to the Brazos River to work them into boats for trade purposes. The only pine trees you see within 60 miles of here now are ones germinated by people in the last 50 years.

The early 1900's and especially the Great Depression took it's toll on the local tree population, as they were cut down for firewood and building material, or just burned for the purpose of land clearing. People visit the area around Waco and think that it has always been flat and full of mesquite trees, but it used to be a dense forest of oaks, pine, and those tall straight cedars that you see mainly in the lower mountains of North Carolina now. There are a few old-growth patches of oak trees with giant canopies of grapevines that you can still walk across,(60ft. in the air) for a mile or so. When you look at them and imagine what it looked like around here 150 years ago, it makes you wonder how explorers or even any wagon trains ever made it through here.

Texas isn't desolate, people made it seem that way. As far as the mesquites that we seem to be known for, the majority of them are one or two species that have traveled here from Mexico in the last 150 years following the removal of the local tree population. Those are like a weed, you can't kill them and they smother everything else. The previous species of mesquites had to deal with growing tall to receive any sun at all.

One of the coolest trees I've ever seen was a black mesquite that was taller than any pecan or live oak tree around it. It had black sap running all down the trunk and thorns on it from top to base that were around a foot long with thorns several inches long coming off of those. It looked to be about 100 ft. tall, maybe more. I think it could have been the state record, but was buried way off in the woods where I was wheedling at and I doubt anyone has ever seen it or realized what they were actually looking at. It kept anything from growing under it for some reason and had been there long enough to build up a layer of long thorns on the ground under it's canopy that was very dangerous to walk around on. If anyone knows what the actual name of this rare tree was, write me back. I've never seen another and I've been in the woods all of my life.
21 posted on 08/02/2006 8:18:16 AM PDT by DavemeisterP (It's never too late to be what you might have been....George Elliot)
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To: blam

The Greeks of the time of Homer and Hesiod were somewhat proud of the new ship building technique involving thwarts and planks and curved hulls since it allowed much bigger and faster ships. Noah, of course, built of timbers (no mention of thwarts,) and sealed with pitch, probably bitumen, placing his home somewhere in an oily region such as California, Texas, Alaska, or Iraq. Hollowing out a log can be challenging and an amount of technology could be involved.

22 posted on 08/02/2006 8:19:06 AM PDT by RightWhale (Repeal the law of the excluded middle)
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To: Hegemony Cricket; AFreeBird

Conversely, New Hampshire used to be pretty much totally defoliated, farmland as far as the eye could see. Mostly pines, too. Then when the Industrial Revolution came everyone abandoned their farms (the soil is pretty poor and rocky up there anyway) and moved to the cities, and the land changed into the gorgeous diciduous forests now famous for fall leaf peeping! It's pretty cool, you can walk waaaaaaayyyyy back into the woods and there will always be these random stone walls crisscrossing the land.

23 posted on 08/02/2006 9:02:58 AM PDT by To Hell With Poverty (It's a messed up world-the Germans don't want war and the French call Americans arrogant!)
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To: To Hell With Poverty
Conversely, New Hampshire used to be pretty much totally defoliated...

Same goes for the Adirondack Mountains in Northern New York State. Logging and mining (iron ore) caused most of the deforestation. It wasn't until the late 1800's that state legislation was passed to preserve the forests in the mountains and make them forever wild.
24 posted on 08/02/2006 9:21:47 AM PDT by rochester_veteran (born and raised in rachacha!)
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To: rochester_veteran

Glad to know the trees came back, but I like my story better (yay free markets!)...
; )

Actually, I did see a program about that on PBS once, a special about the Hudson River valley. Demand for firewood had a lot to do with it if I remember correctly. I think about that (the deforested Adirondacks) whenever I hear hippies talking about their wood stoves like it's so darn superior to our oil furnaces. I'd rather burn oil and keep our forests, thank you! (well okay actually I'd rather have cheap nuke power, but you get my point.....)

25 posted on 08/02/2006 10:27:37 AM PDT by To Hell With Poverty (It's a messed up world-the Germans don't want war and the French call Americans arrogant!)
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To: AFreeBird

Same with Wisconsin. Those German farmers did a good job of clearing to turn it all into fields.

26 posted on 08/02/2006 12:44:15 PM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
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To: DavemeisterP used to be a dense forest of oaks, pine, and those tall straight cedars...

Indeed! Although there is still enough pine pollen floating around to interfere with my daughter's voice when she was studying music at Baylor U! She had to take allergy shots for it! LOL.

27 posted on 08/02/2006 12:54:24 PM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
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To: afraidfortherepublic
And judging from my back yard (I live on about 3 acres), if left alone, no farming, no cutting of lawns and no more buildiing of parking lots and roads, I suspect in a hundred years are so, we'd have pretty dense forrests growing here again.

I put weed killer on my lawn of course, but it don't kill the woody plants, honeysuckle (a damn weed), oak, maple, poplar and numerous other species that are constantly popping up in my yard. If I quit cutting my grass, trees would take over in 5 years, actually less if you count the honeysuckle. My chipper/vac gets more use than my lawnmower.

28 posted on 08/02/2006 2:31:52 PM PDT by AFreeBird (... Burn the land and boil the sea's, but you can't take the skies from me.)
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To: afraidfortherepublic

Probably was the mountain cedar blowing out of the SW from Fort Hood. I've seen the pollen swirl across the road like a purple fog at some times of the year down around there.

29 posted on 08/03/2006 9:44:24 PM PDT by DavemeisterP (It's never too late to be what you might have been....George Elliot)
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To: DavemeisterP

The doctor identified it as an allergy to pine pollen, although who knows! It would just steal her voice at inopportune times. Since she was a voice major, it interfered with her education! Spent a lot of money on allergy shots.

30 posted on 08/04/2006 2:25:58 PM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
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31 posted on 03/18/2008 10:28:04 PM PDT by SunkenCiv ( updated Saturday, March 1, 2008)
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