|16 April 2006
Neolithic boat replica to be launched in Scotland
A prehistory park in Scotland hope to launch a replica stone age boat to test whether theories on ancient design hold water. A 20ft craft, similar to those used by Neolithic people to arrive and settle in the area and sail on lochs, is taking shape at the Archaeolink Prehistory Park, near Oyne. The big test for the boat-building crew will come in July when the vessel faces sea trials at the Portsoy Boat Festival in Aberdeenshire.
Archaeolink's deputy interpretations manager, Mark Keighley, predicted the craft would make a big splash at the festival. He said: "We will be taking it out of the harbour, powering it with simple pole oars. We may add on shoulder-bones from cattle to provide a blade and better propulsion. There would have been no cloth for sails, so it will all be based on what was available in prehistoric times."
The boat-builders have no precise archaeological evidence to use in the reconstruction. Their design is a larger and simpler version of the traditional coracle. Once the willow frame is finished, five cow hides will be sewn over it. Birch tar will then provide a completely waterproof coating and seal the stitching. The result will be a robust craft that will take about three-quarters of a tonne of ballast and a crew of about a dozen. Expert coracle-maker Peter Faulkner, from Shropshire, is supervising the project.
Another replica - this time of a building - is also under construction at the park. Work has started on a Mesolithic hut, based on 8,000-year-old remains excavated from sites across the UK, including Moray. The wigwam-shaped structure is being created from logs and support timbers, roofed with turf and heated by a central open fire. Archaeolink will be hosting a series of events, from combat displays to hands-on ancient cookery and pottery, over the coming months. The centre is just off the A96 Aberdeen to Inverness road, north of Inverurie. It is open from 10am-5pm daily.
Sources: The Press and Journal, This is North Scotland (15 April 2006)
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