Archaeologists in Monmouthshire, Wales, believe they have found pieces of wood from a longboat that dates back to the Stone Age. The wood was discovered on a building site which has now been cleared, and all construction work has been halted.
The wood has been dated to around 3,200BC. The artifacts were found in an area near a lake that was believed to have been formed during the last Ice Age.
Steve Clarke, the founder of Monmouth Archaeology, commented that: “As we had just discovered a rich Bronze Age settlement a few fields away, we thought the remains would turn out to be Bronze Age. So it was a real surprise when the dates came back as being twice as old.”
It was only two years ago and a mere 1,500 meters away that boat shaped channels were found in some clay near the lake. Archaeologists believed these to be sites of pre-historic boat building since there was evidence of woodworking with flints.
It was also on the same estate that they found evidence of a crannog – a building on stilts – which they dated back to 2,900BC. There were also five pieces of timber at the site, all made of oak. Two of the pieces even have working features, which suggests they were part of an ancient longboat.
It was in 1978 when a maritime archaeology expert wrote down the criteria for determining a part of an ancient longboat; it had to have two out of six characteristics to even be considered.
The wood found in Monmouthshire meets four of the six, making it highly likely that it was part of a longboat. The largest piece was most likely the gunwale at the stern of the longboat; it has an oval shape and an open-ended hole which is 4.8cm wide, and it would’ve been attached to a rope.
The second piece is believed to be part of the hull; it has a larger hole measuring 7.5cm. The researchers are now asking that all developments now be put on hold until they have searched the area, as they believe there may be more Stone Age artifacts buried there.