|28 September 2001
Low tide reveals ancient canoe
Three friends searching a riverbank for treasure have stumbled on a prehistoric dugout canoe that could become one of the most important maritime finds in Scotland. The 25ft boat, made from a carved tree trunk, was spotted at low tide partly submerged in a reed bed in the Tay, near Perth. The discoverers alerted local archaeologists who visited the site and confirmed that the large, finely-honed vessel was made from a single oak and has been preserved by the soft silt in which it lay buried. Archaeologists hope to remove it from the riverbed before winter after raising the funds needed to preserve the craft.
David Strachan, an archaeologist from Perth and Kinross Council, said the canoe could date from the Bronze Age. "While we still wait on the results of radiocarbon-dating tests, it is possible that the boat could date back a long time or could be as recent as AD500."
Douglas Speirs, an archaeologist with Fife Council, said: "This is a find of a lifetime." He added: "It is a remarkable find and is in astonishingly good condition. You could almost pull it out of the mud and set sail in it. It was made from one single tree and it must have taken a year or two to build, even with Bronze Age tools. It has very fine lines, and is not simply a hollowed out log. It was designed for inland waters and was probably used by some prehistoric chap sailing about in a quiet area with a bow and arrow sneaking up on large waterfowl. Very few of these have been found, and hardly any as well preserved as this one."
Mr Fotheringham, one of the discoverers, said: "The most important artefact we had found to date was a couple of Roman medallions, so this is much more exciting." A spokesman for Perth and Kinross council said it was extremely rare to find an ancient canoe in one piece. He said that similar craft had been found, and then abandoned or destroyed, by farmers and estate workers during agricultural improvements in the 18th and 19th century.
Sources: The Times (11 February 2001), The Daily Telegraph (13 September 2001)
Share this webpage: