Some of the ideas discussed in this blog are published in my new book called "The Stonehenge Bluestones" -- due for publication on June 1st 2018. After that, it will be available by post and through good bookshops everywhere. Bad bookshops might not have it....
To order, click

Monday, 5 December 2011

Dugout boats found in Cambridgeshire Fens

A nice article in The Observer and on Guardian Online about the finds in the Fens........  they all seem to date from the Bronze Age.  Lots of artifacts including some rather unexpected ones, preserved under 4m of organic muds.  (What did I tell you, Geo?  These things are there -- they turn up eventually...........often purely by chance.)

There are 6 dugout boats on the site, including one which is over 8m long.  The pic above shows one of the boats being revealed.  The boats seem to be quite crude, and are not thought to have been suitable for sea voyages -- but they were clearly OK for sculling around in the sheltered lagoons and swamps of the environment at the time.


Geo Cur said...

Brian , read what I said , that's putting words into my mouth again . Although these finds are spectacular ,evidence is found on a regular basis of artefacts relating to everyday life , I've done it myself .

BRIAN JOHN said...

Cheer up, Geo! Only joking.....

heavenshenge said...

"The boats seem to be quite crude, and are not thought to have been suitable for sea voyage"

Aye, but we know that in 2000-3000BC, foreigners from Northern Europe were regularly in Britain (because of the levels of certain istotopes found in their teeth), and also drawn to Stonehenge's environs. So by definition, they must have travelled here somehow (Dover would be the easiest)

So sea voyages must have been undertaken.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Don't doubt any of that -- I imagine there must have been sea voyages -- or more likely short hops -- from the earliest times. Whether the boats were capable of carrying cargoes is a more difficult matter -- and another question is this: were these early voyages deliberate, or involuntary?

The Stonehenge Enigma said...


Have you been secretly reading my book?

Boats, Swamps and sheltered Lagoons... have you forgotten we were all hunter-gatherers eating each other!

So we have a 'Bronze Age' set of boats? How do we know this, because they found some Bronze artefacts at the site (but not in the boat).

It's like dating St Paul's by the coke can left in the bins outside - no wonder why we have such little knowledge of our true history!

So they radio carbon dated the boat just to be sure.... well no because this has been funded privately by a cement company who wishes to keep costs to a minimum and they want the archaeologists to get on with it (as they have a economic deadline) and consequently what are the chances of further 'investigations' if the date came back as Mesolithic or oldest boat in Britain ever found?

So if we call it Bronze age every ones happy and the archaeologists can get the 'rapid conclusion' bonus - no doubt on offer. The company can then dig a bloody great hole in the ground and destroy any other archaeology or dating evidence.

And of the Bronze artefacts that came from Spain they were thrown to the river as a 'Francis Prior' ceremonial offering - why would you bring something that far and valuable to throw it away?

What a lot of piffle!


The Stonehenge Enigma said...


The North Sea was a lot different then as Doggerland had recent sank and therefore the water levels relatively shallow and easier to cross than today.

These boats would travel the established trade routes across to the Baltic basin were they were trade for amber as did our ancestors at Star Carr which is just 100 miles North and were doing so since the Mesolithic.


Anonymous said...

I quite agree with you RJL.

What a load of piffle! You said it!

heavenshenge said...

"The North Sea was a lot different then as Doggerland had recent sank."

"Recently" RJL? Our ancestors probably viewed the passing of time using a much more long term world-view than today. Even then, recently seems a bit of a push

However, tree ring and pollen data shows that this (2000-3000) was a relatively warm period (ignoring the short period of total crop failure of about 2200BC indicated by the pollen, tree ring and ice core data). This doesn't easily correlate with shallow waters.

By the way, I've noticed a relatively massive throughput of website traffic from Russia on this topic: Do you know why are the Russians so interested in Stonehenge?

The Stonehenge Enigma said...


In geological time Doggerland sank below the rising sea levels recently.

The land mass started to sink in the viking/bergen area just after the 'great melt' in 9500BC and according to Geologists sea level maps the rest disappeared about 4500BC.

This was a slow gradual process and as parts of doggerland are only just below the surface (sand bank) you can guestimate that the entire area was a massive sand bank in the Late Neolithic/Bronze age.

The shallow waters would allow smaller boats to cross the North Sea - although I agree with Brian the Spanish Bronze traders needed ships and these are not ships.

Warm periods do correlate to calmer seas for small boats, but quite rightly the abandonment of boats for walking, carts and riding.

As for the Russians (Eastern Bloc), they have a shared ancestry with us Northern Europeans - So they have their own Long Barrows to investigate.


BRIAN JOHN said...

Since when have I ever said anything about Spanish bronze traders?

The history of Doggerland is pretty well known -- and it's all down to the interplay between isostatic unloading and eustatic sea level rise. Check out the posts on this site by using the search facility.

Robert -- the coast in the Bergen area was rising after the melting of the Devensian Scandinavian ice sheet -- not sinking.

Not for the first time, you seem to be more than a little confused.

The Stonehenge Enigma said...


I hope your right - it would help my theory no-end.

Unfortunately, Coles' maps show as part of the land mass in later devensian/weichselian - an island by 10K - 12K BC it was still there at the beginning of the Holocene 9000BC (according to wiki)and gone by 6200BC.

These maps are old but they still seem to be the best known authority. Do you have dates and sources of new maps, I can use?


Robin said...

Thanks! Great post you have written on "Dugout boats found in Cambridgeshire Fens".Really I can say that your post is very informative, I'll come across your blog again when you will update it with new.
Boats in India

Tony H said...

Highly recommend for viewing on the web a Time Team Special from around 2008/9 titled "Life On The Edge". Late Bronze Age merging into Early Iron Age excavation at Washingborough, near Witham, Lincolnshire Fens. Loads of pristine wooden and pottery material preserved by waterlogging. Francis Pryor, his wife (expert on ancient wood), and Phil Harding feature. The story of a 10-week rescue dig, i.e. not the normal 3-day race!!