The Dover Bronze Age Boat

BookThe Dover Bronze Age Boat

The Dover Bronze Age Boat

English Heritage


April 30th, 2004



Other Formats



In 1992 the perfectly preserved remains of a large prehistoric, sewn plank boat were discovered buried six metres below the streets of Dover in SE England. The boat has been dated to c 150 BC and is one of the most important and spectacular prehistoric wooden objects ever found in Europe. This richly illustrated book, including carefully researched reconstruction drawings, tells the dramatic story of its discovery and excavation, and the pioneering work done on its conservation, re-assembly and display in the multi-award winning Bronze Age gallery at Dover Museum.

The boat was made from huge oak planks hewn into elaborate shapes that fitted together with exacting tolerances. These were made fast with an intricate system waterproofed with pads of moss held in place by thin strips of oak and a stopping made of beeswax and animal fat. Together these elements formed a broad-beamed, flat-bottomed boat of unique design, employing a woodworking tradition now long forgotten.

In addition to a detailed description of the boat itself, the book explores the method of its consruction, its original form, capabilities and performance, and its function and place in Bronze Age society. It presents new and innovative techniques for the study of ancient timbers and describes an experiment in building a copy of the boat using replicas of Bronze Age tools.

Far more than a straightforward technical report on an ancient vessel, this book examines in depth the implications of such a unique find for our understanding of prehistoric communities 3,500 years ago.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Half title2
Title page4
Chapter 1 – Introduction17
Chapter 2 – Glossary20
Chapter 3 – Discovery and excavation25
Chapter 4 – Recording39
Chapter 5 – Description of the boat48
Chapter 6 - Illuminating the original shape of the Dover boat timbers112
Chapter 7 - Woodland management and timber conversion122
Chapter 8 – Assembly and construction techniques140
Chapter 9 – The reconstruction experiment179
Chapter 10 – Reconstruction and performance205
Chapter 11 - Other artefacts from the site227
Chapter 12 - The environmental evidence245
Chapter 13 - Dating266
Chapter 14 - Affinities and differences272
Chapter 15 – The boat in its cultural setting280
Chapter 16 - The deposition of the boat292
Chapter 17 – Conservation298
Chapter 18 - Reassembly and display306
Chapter 19 - Discussion321
Fold-out illustrations357
Fig 3.11357
Fig 5.1358
Fig 5.6359
Fig 5.18360
Fig 5.19361
Fig 5.20362
Fig 5.24363
Fig 5.46364
Fig 10.2365
Fig 10.3366
Fig 12.6367