In the foundations of one of the roundhouses at Glastonbury Lake Village, Arthur Bullied discovered what he described as part of a broken canoe made of beech. Conveniently for us, whilst mentioning this fact to Andy Harris, Ranger for the Forestry Commission, he told me that they would be dropping a very large tree that week! We inspected the beast of a beech whilst still standing in the forest around Castle Neroche on the Blackdown Hills and saw it had a decent length of straight trunk- perfect for our purposes.
They felled the tree and we nicked our chunk, then attempted to cart it off to the Avalon Marshes Centre. Unfortunately, it was too large for any local timber hauliers, so we had to chainsaw a few feet off to reduce its weight. Eventually, however, we got it on site and began the process of removing the bark and figuring out how the canoe would emerge from the tree. Our main constraint was the central section of the trunk had a fungal rot, no good for anything and so dictating where we had to work to.
After drawing, redrawing and rubbing it all out and drawing it on again, we decided on the shape and began taking down the base to make it flat and level. As the sun blazed down, we chopped and split the first chunks of wood from the timber behemoth.
Once complete, we rolled it over and began flattening off the sides, maintaining the correct angle from the base along its entire length.
Anyone fancy joining us for some dugout canoe racing???!
Photos are courtesy of Rod Little.