A study of the Hasholme Boat
How Was it Built?
The Hasholme Boat was made from a single large oak tree cut down around 450 BC. The tree was hollowed out and trimmed to make a vessel of over 41 feet (12.5 metres) long.
It would have been transported on log rollers to a waterside for work to begin in shaping the vessel. The stern end of the boat was blocked off by a piece of wood which slotted in tightly.
To make it watertight a mixture of moss and twigs was used. A 'U' shape has been cut into the end which was purely decorative. There is a shelf where a member of the crew would have steered and supervised the vessel. The bow had been damaged during drainage.
The Hasholme boat was utilitarian as it could have had a maximum crew of eighteen rowers and two steersmen. Or it could have had five crew members and five tons of cargo. When the boat sank it was carrying butchered meat and partly worked timber.
Dating of the Hasholme Boat
The dating of the vessel was achieved by Dendrochronology which is a scientific dating method based on the analysis of tree ring growth patterns. It can date wood to exact calendar years. Dendrochronology dated the vessel to 322-277 BC (Iron Age).
Radiocarbon dating is a scientific method used for samples of which were once alive for example, bone, charcoal, wood and leather. All these types contain carbon and proportion of which is radio active 14C. The radio carbon dies and decays at a constant rate which can then be estimated and dating the object. A sample of the vessel was dated to 450+/-70BC.
A chance discovery in an East Yorkshire field has given us a remarkable survival from our distant past. Behind the vessels return to Hull lies the great challenge of preservation. The technical achievement of the excavation and rescue has been followed by the technical challenge of spray cleaning and strengthening the delicate structure of the vessel by impregnating it with a special wax.
The Hasholme Boat is a solid reminder that our links with water for transport and trade go back to prehistory, and it is fitting that the boat should find its final home in Hull a city so famous for its maritime heritage.