The Pallasboy Project Phase 3: Prehistoric Water Craft

Dr. Benjamin Gearey

In the previous two phases of the Pallasboy Project our focus has been on relatively small prehistoric wooden artefacts. Moreover, we have been concerned with objects of precise form but unclear function or purpose. In the final phase we have rather bucked this trend: the creative undertaking sees Mark tasked with the re-creation of an object of greater size and (at first glance at least…) much less ambiguous function compared to the Pallasboy Vessel or the Red Man of Kilbeg!

The object is the Lees Island 5 Iron Age logboat, which lies on the bottom of Lough Corrib, Co. Galway. Lees Island 5 was built from a single oak timber and is some 7.5m long, 0.61m wide and 0.4m deep. The craft has some other interesting features that we will describe below.

The boat is just one of various sunken vessels that litter the watery depths of the Lough; a remarkable array of watergoing craft from the Bronze Age through to recent times (including the wreck of a Victorian pleasure cruiser!) which have been documented thanks to the work of Karl Brady and Ireland’s Underwater Archaeology Unit. There have of course been various re-creations of prehistoric boats carried out (e.g. ‘Morgawr’ and ‘Oak Leaf’, replicas of the Bronze Age ‘sewn plank’ vessel from Ferriby, east Yorkshire), so we are not claiming to be breaking new ground in experimental archaeology through this undertaking. However, we will be bringing our own approach and perspective to the process!


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