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Take me here now

The boatyard frozen in time

Work stopped suddenly...but why?

Timbers recovered from the medieval boatyard

The archaeologist remembers...

show transcript

The Barber family were not the only shipwrights who worked in this area. Another boatyard was found during development, and excavated by archaeologists in 1986.

One of the odd features of the site was that they found several large oak and elm timbers that were ready to be assembled into boats as keels and supports. 

Scientists used cutting-edge technology to analyse the tree ring patterns, including a special program running on an Atari 1040 STF computer with a whopping 1 megabyte of RAM. They estimated that the timbers came from the 15th century, and were from quite young trees. Large timbers like these were useful and expensive items, so why were they left here? 

At this time Poole was regularly under attack by French and Spanish raiders, including a devastating assault in 1405 that burned much of the town and took years to recover from. 

One theory is that the boatyard was destroyed in one of these raids, leaving the timbers sunk in the mud. As later generations dumped material onto the shoreline to make more space for buildings, the timbers were preserved under a thick layer of earth.

The boatyard is the only archaeological site of its type in Europe, and examination of the timbers gave valuable information about the boatbuilding methods of the time. Some of the surviving items are on display in the Poole Museum, along with the even earlier Iron Age logboat.