Paddling through Prehistory Pt.2

Over the last few weeks we have stepped up work on our replica Shapwick dugout canoe quite dramatically (and our ability to utilise 21st century technology to record our progress!). The first hurdle was to move the beast, on rollers, from one side of the site to the other so that we would have the space needed to work on it properly.

Once in a position we were happy with, we rolled it onto it’s top and began shaping the base of the canoe. The Shapwick Canoe, like many prehistoric vessels of this kind, was flat bottomed. Using a string line, an axe and an adze we proceeded to take off the waste wood and create a cleanly cut, evenly level, basal surface.

Now that the bottom was looking particularly fine, we spent some time figuring out the punt-like ends seen on the archaeological example. After wearing our charcoal nib down to dust we finally decided on the angle (avoiding the annoying knot in the wood) and sharpened our axes ready to take it to the desired shape.


Now that the logboat was actually looking like a logboat, we were keen to keep the wood fresh and prevent further cracks forming from the ends drying out. So we thought of a cunning Iron Age plan and popped to the local shop to grab what we needed…


As good as the front end is looking, the rear of the boat has a pretty ruinous split running straight through it. There are a number of interesting archaeologically-based solutions to solve difficulties like this, the final video of this stage of the build highlights how we are attempting to remedy the problems we face.


Now that the boat is the right way up again, we can start to properly shape the sides and remove the sapwood (as this rots a lot faster than the heartwood). Once this is achieved, so starts the hollowing… Check back soon to continue following our progress!