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17 July 2004
Archaeologists test Bronze Age boat replica

Archaeologists retraced the footsteps of Bronze Age men in a unique experiment to test whether Hengistbury Head (Dorset, England) played a part in the creation of Stonehenge. They were investigating the theory that Hengistbury Head was the scene for one of man's earliest attempts to move large blocks of stone from the coast to Stonehenge.
     To see how this would have worked, a team of archaeologists, wood carvers and prehistoric-boat specialists took delivery of a 17 tonne oak tree and used copies of Bronze Age axes and adzes to fashion it into an exact replica of a 3000-year-old Bronze Age dugout. The replica boat was then lashed to an existing Iron Age dugout borrowed from the Cranborne Ancient Technology Centre to create a stable platform for the experiment. Finally, a one tonne rock, simulating a piece of blue stone as used by the builders of Stonehenge, was manoeuvred onto the prehistoric pontoon.
     Trish Zimmerman, of the Hengistbury Head Centre, said: "The experiment provided a one-off opportunity to get into the minds of the people who lived here thousands of years ago and to understand the practical problems that they would have encountered."
     Mark Holloway, countryside officer at Hengistbury Head, said there was no direct evidence of a Bronze Age boat being used in the harbour. But there is considerable evidence of trade along the local river systems in the Early Iron Age - 2,800 years ago. He added: "We know from recent archaeological excavations that the area was used mainly as a cemetery in the Bronze Age as indicated by the many round barrows - it's quite conceivable that materials and possibly corpses were moved around the area by dugouts."

Sources: Daily Echo, This is Bournemouth (16 July 2004)

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