Place in Boat Building
Boats of Ferriby type have
no known ancestors or descendants but are obviously of a long lineage. The earliest
known boats are log-boats or dugouts, with examples from Holland and Denmark
going back to the Middle Stone Age or Mesolithic at about 7000 BC. Logboats
survived in Europe until modern times and are still made in the Tropics.
In Europe planked boats are thought to have been derived from extended log-boats
or from rafts. In the case of ancient Egypt their form suggests that reed-bundle
boats have a place in their ancestry. After a period of stitching or sewing
of planks, the Egyptians developed edge-fastening by mortises and tenons which
became the standard method throughout the Mediterranean and lasted through Greek
and Roman times. Frames developed there too, eventually into the rigid frame-skeleton,
covered in planking, of the familiar carvel-build. In the north, hulls were
built up of thin planking overlapping at the edges which were 'clenched' by
dowels or by iron rivets, hence the common term 'clinker-construction'. Ribs
were inserted afterwards to keep the hull in shape. These two methods are termed
'skeleton first' and 'shell first' respectively.
The earliest plank-built boats are from Ancient Egypt and include the royal
barge of Pharaoh Cheops, found dismantled in a rock-crypt in front of the great
Pyramid and dated to about 2600 BC. Sea-going vessels followed and are depicted
in bas-reliefs and wall paintings. In the Aegean a positive regatta of boats
was depicted in fresco on the walls of a building destroyed by the great volcanic
eruption of the island of Thera (Santorini) in c.1400 BC.
Our British Bronze Age boats, ranging in age from the Ferriby boats (c.1800
BC) to the Brigg 'raft' (c.800 BC), in their several ways resemble none of these
and are unknown elsewhere. The nearest in age from Northern Europe is the unique
Hjortspring canoe from Denmark of c.400 BC.
For fifty years the Ferriby boats and the accounts of them stood as a benchmark
for the study of ancient boats in this country. They had no equals in Europe
and for that matter anywhere. It is only in the last five years, first by the
Severn Estuary and in 1992 at Dover, that their like has been found.
Copyright - Estate
of Edward Wright deceased. As extracted from his booklet 'North Ferriby and
the Bronze Age Boats'
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