Medieval boat found on Suffolk coast

THE unearthing of a medieval boat on the north Suffolk coast is of “great national importance”, the archaeological team behind the discovery said last night.

Mark Lord

THE unearthing of a medieval boat on the north Suffolk coast is of “great national importance”, the archaeological team behind the discovery said last night.

As reported in yesterday's EADT the remains were found during excavations at Sizewell in advance of the onshore works for the Greater Gabbard Wind Farm.

The vessel, which was probably a small inshore fishing boat, was broken up sometime between the 12th and 14th Centuries and parts of its hull were re-used to create a timber lining for a well.


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Robert Atfield, Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service's project manager, said: “The waterlogged conditions have ensured that the timbers are very well preserved.

“It is very rare to find a timber boat like this preserved to such a great extent, this is very much a significant find and of great importance nationally.

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“This kind of lucky find is something which does not happen very often, we will now be looking at trying to conserve the timbers. We might try and reconstruct and display the vessel in the future.”

The other finds include a wide range of pottery, part of a wooden platter, various personal items such as buckles and clothing fasteners, fishing hooks, and weights.

All of the discoveries from the dig will now be cleaned, conserved and studied in further detail.

Mr Atfield added: “Where we found the boat was probably the inland edge of the settlement that was Sizewell. It would have been very much a thriving settlement based near to the beach, but large areas of land were eroded by the sea during the 12th Century and much of the settlement lost.”

The area around the dig site would have been part of the property of Leiston Abbey, it follows the edge of a low-lying channel, which would have formed a fresh water lagoon and would have been the focus for a variety of activities.

There is evidence of timber buildings, hearths and wood-lined water pits clustered at the channel's edge.

Leiston Abbey, formerly known as St Mary's Abbey, was founded in 1182 near Minsmere by Ranulf de Glanville, Lord Chief Justice to King Henry II.

In 1363 the abbey was transferred to Leiston, and its patron Robert de Ufford, Earl of Suffolk, devoted his last years to the building.

Peter Simoyi, project manager for South East Electricity Substantions Alliance - one of the partners jointly funding the dig, said: “It's nice to think that in the process of connecting a new energy source for Suffolk's future, we have been able to shed light on the county's past.”

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