Recovering the Hasholme Logboat by Sean McGrail and Martin Millett
The boat as excavated. The area towards the bow (away from the camera) is where it was cut through by the farmer's draining machine. The long timbers within the boat are probably cargo.
Alarge and sophisticated logboat 12.5 m long has been discovered at Hasholme in the East Riding of Yorkshire. The excavation is prob ably the first in this country where it has been possible to recover a logboat by scientific excavation. It is already clear that the boat which is of later Prehistoric or early Romano-British date, was lost in shallow estuarine conditions when the area was part of an inlet off the Humber. When the boat was abandoned or sunk she seems to have been laden with unfin ished, rough worked timbers and jointed meat.
The archaeology of the areas of the East Riding of Yorkshire off the Wolds has been comparatively neglected. In the last few years, however, Peter Halkon and members of the East Riding Archaeological Society have examined a block of low land on the edge of the Vale of York centred on Holme-on-Spalding Moor in conjunction with Martin Millett of the Durham University Archaeology Department.
In July 1984, whilst sample excavation on a kiln site was beginning, it was noticed that land draining was being undertaken within the survey area, at Hasholme (SE823328). An investigation of this drainage operation was organised, with the farmer's co-operation and a pile of bog oaks was noticed. On investigation several of these wood fragments proved to come from a substantial logboat.
The major problem was the recovery of the boat, for although it was on comparatively firm ground, it was too soft to get a crane close enough to the boat for a direct lift. After considerable debate, a substantial recovery cradle was designed by John Morris, and constructed by OMEC Ltd.
On completion of the cradle, the boat was winched from the trench (see cover photo) and lifted by crane onto a lorry. It was then driven to Greenwich where the boat is being recorded in detail at the National Maritime Museum before conservation and eventual display in Hull. A thermoluminescence date of AD 190 ±270 has been obtained from a hand made pot sherd associated with the large quantity of animal bones that surrounded the boat.