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The Bronze Age Boat

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The Bronze Age Boat was discovered in 1992, during excavation  work associated with the building of the new A20 road to the  Eastern Docks and the renewal of the sewer system. Initially a  cross-section of the boat was excavated and lifted from the hole but the realisation of just how important an archaeological  discover it was led to further excavation of the boat. In the end  the whole of one end of the boat was raised and removed to  special treatment tanks to start the preservation process. The timbers of the boat have been dated to 1550 BC, making it  the world’s oldest sea-going boat. A total of 9.5 metres of the  boat has been recovered, which represents at least half, but  possibly as much as two thirds of the original. The boat was  made up of at least six oak timbers lashed together with yew  wood, with all the joints reinforced with a thin lath of oak,  covering moss pushed into the joint. The two central planks are  joined by the use of wedges pushed through a central rail and a  series of cleats. The boat would have been capable of crossing the channel  carrying a substantial cargo of supplies, livestock and  passengers. It was propelled by at least eighteen paddlers.  Goods were also being traded across Britain and it is likely the  boat plied along the South Coast. A piece of shale from Dorset  was found in the boat, so she may have traded down as far west as Cornwall, as well as across the Channel. The preservation process on the boat took nearly six years.  During this time the Bronze Age Boat Trust had been busily  raising money to pay for a new gallery in Dover Museum to  display the boat in. The preserved sections of the boat were  returned to Dover and a team of experts spent the next nine  month reassembling them on a specially-built adjustable cradle  in the purpose built gallery. The boat is in a case in which the  environment is carefully controlled to ensure the preservation of  the timbers. The new gallery was opened to the public in 1999.
The Bronze Age Boat in its climate controlled display case. The Bronze Age Boat - detail.