Exploring Kent's Past

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Monument details

HER Number:TR 06 SE 9
Type of record:Monument
Name:The Graveney boat - c.AD 895

Summary

The timbers of an ancient clinker-built boat were found in September 1970 during the excavation of a large drainage channel for the Kent River Authority. The vessel, of well-preserved oak, survived for c. 10 metres of its length, but it can be estimated that its full size was over 14 metres long and less than 3 metres broad, with a 7.5 metre keel. There is no sign of a mast. The floor timbers are massive and would have given the boat great strength for carrying heavy cargo. They are fastened to the shell with wooden tree-nails. The shell is built of narrow strakes fastened together by iron rivets - now rusted away. There were indications that the vessel was berthed for repair. The hull had been repaired and the boat, secured by a series of stakes round the hull, lay on a platform of brushwood. A rope attached to the sternpost was probably used to drag the boat onto the platform. The platform, perhaps part of a timber hard, lay approximately level with a horizon visible downstream (see Illustration Card for map) which consisted of a distinct layer of oyster and mussel shells, marking a soil transition, probably an old ground surface. Several sherds from the base of a large medieval pot were recovered from it. Finds from the excavations included:- pebbles, shells, Roman tile fragments, sheep bones, pieces of Kentish rag and lava, and twelve Continental pottery sherds of 10th or 11th century date. The ship was taken to the National Maritime Museum for conservation. A late 9th century date was given by the radio-carbon method and c. 895 A.D. by dendrochronology. Preliminary research suggests that the Graveney boat is of a hitherto unrepresented class, a sea-going trading ship probably constructed in south or east England


Grid Reference:TR 066 639
Map Sheet:TR06SE
Parish:WHITSTABLE, CANTERBURY, KENT
HERNHILL, SWALE, KENT

Monument Types

  • SITE (Unknown date)
  • WRECK (BOAT, Early Medieval or Anglo-Saxon - 895 AD to 899 AD)

Associated Finds

  • BOAT (Early Medieval or Anglo-Saxon - 895 AD to 895 AD)

Full description

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[TR 066 639] The timbers of an ancient clinker-built boat were found by Mr Roy Botting in September 1970 during the excavation of a large drainage channel for the Kent River Authority. (See Illustration Cardfor map and photo.) The boat was subsequently excavated under the guidance of local archaeologists Frank Jenkins and Cecil Hogarth of Chatham House School, and the Canterbury Archaeological Society. Drainage work was suspended for a week so that the boat could be fully recorded and recovery attempted as a joint operation by the National Maritime Museum and the Sutton Hoo Unit of the British Museum. The vessel, of well-preserved oak, survived for c. 10 metres of its length, but it can be estimated that its full size was over 14 metres long and less than 3 metres broad, with a 7.5 metre keel. There is no sign of a mast. The floor timbers are massive and would have given the boat great strength for carrying heavy cargo. They are fastened to the shell with wooden tree-nails. The shell is built of narrow strakes fastened together by iron rivets - now rusted away. Quantities of luting still survived in the strake overlaps. This, and the supporting clay beneath, held the boat together. There were indications that the vessel was berthed for repair. The hull had been repaired and the boat, secured by a series of stakes round the hull, lay on a platform of brushwood. A rope attached to the sternpost was probably used to drag the boat onto the platform. The platform, perhaps part of a timber hard, lay approximately level with a horizon visible downstream (see Illustration Card for map) which consisted of a distinct layer of oyster and mussel shells, marking a soil transition, probably an old ground surface. Several sherds from the base of a large medieval pot were recovered from it. Finds from the excavations included:- pebbles, shells, Roman tile fragments, sheep bones, pieces of Kentish rag and lava, and twelve Continental pottery sherds of 10th or 11th century date. The ship was taken to the National Maritime Museum for conservation and eventual display. A late 9th century date was given by the radio-carbon method and c. 895 A.D. by dendrochronology. Preliminary research suggests that the Graveney boat is of a hitherto unrepresented class, a sea-going trading ship probably constructed in south or east England (1-4). Additional bibliography - not consulted (5). RC dated (6). References from published text regarding the site (7-13) and site photographs (14-21).


<1> OS Card / NAR index entry, Ant 45 1971 41-4 89-96 figs photos (AC Evans and VH Fenwick) (Unpublished document). SKE6461.


<2> OS Card / NAR index entry, Md Arch 15 1971 127 (DM Wilson) (Unpublished document). SKE6461.


<3> OS Card / NAR index entry, BAR 53 The Graveney Boat a Tenth-Century Find from Kent (ed V Fenwick) 1978 photos figs (Unpublished document). SKE6461.


<4> OS Card / NAR index entry, Md Arch 28 1984 119 (JM Fletcher and MC Tapper) (Unpublished document). SKE6461.


<5> OS Card / NAR index entry, Nat Maritime Mus (Maritime Mon and Rpts) 6 1972 9-25 (Unpublished document). SKE6461.


<6> Couldrey, P., 1974, Radiocarbon dates from Kent, p 149 (Article in serial). SWX7673.


<7> Fenwick, V. H., 1972, The Graveney boat. A pre-conquest discovery in Kent, p.119-129 (Article in serial). SWX7609.


<8> Fenwick, C.M., 1971, The Graveney ship, p.156 (Article in serial). SWX7664.


<9> Fletcher, J., 1984, The date of the Graveney boat, p.151 (Article in serial). SWX7611.


<10> Evans, A.C. and Fenwick, V.H., 1971, The Graveney boat, p.89 (Article in serial). SWX7289.


<11> Greenhill, B., 1971, The Graveney boat, p.41-2 (Article in serial). SWX7290.


<12> Fletcher, J., 1984, The date of the Graveney boat, p.151-2 (Article in serial). SWX7611.


<13> Pike, G. and Cann, J., 1995, The Graveney Boat (Article in monograph). SWX9295.


<14> 1978, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11454.


<15> 1978, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11478.


<16> 1994, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11479.


<17> 1994, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11480.


<18> 1994, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11481.


<19> 1998, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11482.


<20> 1998, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11512.


<21> 1998, Photograph (Photograph (Print)). SWX11513.

Sources and further reading

Cross-ref. Source description
<1>Unpublished document: OS Card / NAR index entry. Ant 45 1971 41-4 89-96 figs photos (AC Evans and VH Fenwick).
<2>Unpublished document: OS Card / NAR index entry. Md Arch 15 1971 127 (DM Wilson).
<3>Unpublished document: OS Card / NAR index entry. BAR 53 The Graveney Boat a Tenth-Century Find from Kent (ed V Fenwick) 1978 photos figs.
<4>Unpublished document: OS Card / NAR index entry. Md Arch 28 1984 119 (JM Fletcher and MC Tapper).
<5>Unpublished document: OS Card / NAR index entry. Nat Maritime Mus (Maritime Mon and Rpts) 6 1972 9-25.
<6>Article in serial: Couldrey, P.. 1974. Radiocarbon dates from Kent. 35, pages 148-50. p 149.
<7>Article in serial: Fenwick, V. H.. 1972. The Graveney boat. A pre-conquest discovery in Kent. 1, pages 119-29. p.119-129.
<8>Article in serial: Fenwick, C.M.. 1971. The Graveney ship. 25, pages 156. p.156.
<9>Article in serial: Fletcher, J.. 1984. The date of the Graveney boat. 13.2, pages 151. p.151.
<10>Article in serial: Evans, A.C. and Fenwick, V.H.. 1971. The Graveney boat. 45, pages 89-96. p.89.
<11>Article in serial: Greenhill, B.. 1971. The Graveney boat. 45, pages 41-2. p.41-2.
<12>Article in serial: Fletcher, J.. 1984. The date of the Graveney boat. 13.2, pages 151. p.151-2.
<13>Article in monograph: Pike, G. and Cann, J.. 1995. The Graveney Boat. p.20-26.
<14>Photograph (Print): 1978. Photograph. TR0564/1. print.
<15>Photograph (Print): 1978. Photograph. TR0664/2. print.
<16>Photograph (Print): 1994. Photograph. TR0664/3. print.
<17>Photograph (Print): 1994. Photograph. TR0664/4. print.
<18>Photograph (Print): 1994. Photograph. TR0664/5. print.
<19>Photograph (Print): 1998. Photograph. TR0664/6. print.
<20>Photograph (Print): 1998. Photograph. TR0763/8. print.
<21>Photograph (Print): 1998. Photograph. TR0763/9. print.

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