Archaeologists from the University of Nottingham are investigating an ancient boat buried under a pub parking lot in Wirral, England.
The boat was first discovered in 1938 by workers who partially exposed the vessel while digging the foundations of the Railway Inn pub in Meols. After making a few notes and rough sketches, the workers reburied the boat and so far no further archaeological work has been carried out. But local interest in finding the boat, described as about 20-30 feet long and possibly an old transport vessel or fishing boat, has grown over the years.
About eight years ago a radar search was launched and confirmed that there was indeed a boat under the bar’s courtyard. Now, archaeologists will launch a project to determine its origin.
Closer examination of the rough drawings and notes later showed that the boat was built using a clinker design (overlapping planks) technique developed in the Scandinavian shipbuilding tradition and widely used by the Anglo-Saxons, Frisians and Scandinavians.
According to the news of Echo, Viking expert Professor Stephen Harding from the University of Nottingham and Wirral Archaeology CIC will begin work 85 years after it was discovered by workers. The boat is thought to be of Viking origin, but this investigation will be the first attempt to find out the truth. Archaeologists hope to learn more about the age, origin and use of the boat through scientific techniques such as radiocarbon dating, dendrochronology and analysis of the state of preservation of the wood.
The team will work with bar owners Greene King to drill 100 narrow holes under the front of the bar. They will then take samples of the wood and its surroundings for analysis. The result will reveal whether it is indeed of Viking origin.
Lisa Jones, the pub’s general manager, said she was excited about the project. “We’ve been working with archaeologists for quite some time, it’s incredible that this is actually happening. Everyone – customers and staff – is very excited and we can’t wait to find out what really happened there. We’re going to set up an information center inside the bar, so hopefully people will want to come and see what’s going on. We’ll be open as always.”
Dominga Devitt, Chair of Wirral Archaeology CIC, added: “There has been intense local interest in this buried object for many years. The boat was thought to date from the Viking era, but no professional investigation was ever carried out to uncover the truth. So everyone is excited and really delighted about what we may discover.”