Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Experiment with a sewn-plank boat - Morgawr

Here's a great experiment with constructing a life-size, Bronze Age boat.

A team of UK archaeologists and maritime historians started building this replica sewn-plank boat starting about two years ago. 

Fig. 3  Keel carvers (Van de Noort et al, 2014)

Figure 6.  Basic hand tools (Bronze)
Figure 3 also shows the carpenters  using a mallet and froe, so I imagine a more complete inventory of Copper/Bronze age tools were available.

Modern boats are built around frames and in later times, segmented by bulkheads.  The sewn-plank boats were built more like inside-out 'oak barrels', except with a large solid keel.  The authors admit mixing the inclusion of traditional boatwright framing into Morgawr's construction wasn't 100% true to how plank boats were originally constructed, but that was the whole point for building Morgawr, to better understand the purpose. 
Fig. 5 Keel plates with frame

Fig. 10, Cleat system

Fig. 13, Yew tie

This replica, is a beast at 5,500 lbs.  The paper linked show 18 oarmen and a coxswain.  I doubt double the number would be able to simply lift the boat, waist level.  Was a boat this heavy intended for the open sea?

Morgawr: an experimental Bronze Age-type sewn-plank craft based on the Ferriby boats (Van de Noort et al, 2014) [link]

This paper reports on the construction of a full-scale Bronze Age-type sewn-plank boat based on the Ferriby boats. The boat, which was named Morgawr, was constructed in the National Maritime Museum Cornwall in Falmouth, England, during 2012 and the first months of 2013, as part of a larger exhibition in the museum. This paper provides the background and context of the project, describes the process of building the craft, and reflects in particular on differences between Morgawr and the ‘hypothetical reconstruction of a complete sewn-plank boat’ published in 1990 by Ted Wright and John Coates which formed the basis for this project.

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