Two Medieval log-boats discovered in River Boyne


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The National Monuments Service has confirmed that two new log-boats, which could date from medieval times, have been found in the River Boyne in Co Louth.

Two Medieval log-boats discovered in River Boyne
The discoveries were made by citizen archaeologist Anthony Murphy, using a drone
[Credit: Anthony Murphy, Mythical Ireland Blog]

They were spotted, along with a third boat already known about, along a 500-metre stretch of the river close to Drogheda town centre, by citizen archaeologist Anthony Murphy using a drone.

The first one was found two weeks ago. At the time, Mr Murphy had been using the drone to look for a dolphin seen in the river.

It has now been confirmed that the first and third log-boats spotted by Mr Murphy’s drone are new discoveries.

In a statement the National Monuments Service at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage said it “can confirm that of the three log-boats imaged by Mr Murphy, two are new discoveries.”

“All three log-boats lie in relatively close proximity to each other and are similar in appearance and possibly date too (medieval to post medieval) but a closer examination of the boats would be required to confirm this”.

Reacting to the official confirmation, Mr Murphy said: “It’s incredible to think that the Boyne log-boats have been sitting in the bed of the river for centuries, and perhaps millennia, waiting for that serendipitous day when a combination of low tide, sparse rainfall and the wonderful technology of drones to be seen again.”

He added: “We don’t yet know the age of the dugout boats that I found, but it is believed they are medieval or post-medieval.”

“Let’s hypothesise that they’re 800 years old- a specialist has indicated for the first boat a hypothetical date range of 400AD to 1650AD -that would mean they have been in the River Boyne since around the time the Normans fortified Drogheda.”

“If they’re from the earlier part of the date range, these boats could have been sitting in the Boyne when Saint Patrick came up the river from the estuary to Slane.

“It’s really mind-blowing stuff.”

Mr Murphy, who first published that two of the three log-boats were new finds on his Mythical Ireland website, said: “This is a great example of how citizen archaeologists and enthusiasts can make genuine contributions to archaeology and history.”

Dr Stephen Davis of the UCD School of Archaeology said the newly identified logboats “show yet again how significant the Boyne and the Bru na Boinne World Heritage Sites are, both nationally and internationally.”

“It is quite possible that a survey of this sort might give similar results in other shallow or tidal Irish river systems.”

“There is every reason to assume that similar finds might be present in deeper stretches of the river where the river bottom is not visible from the air.”

The National Monuments Service has confirmed that including the two logboats found by Mr Murphy, it now has records of the discovery of 14 log-boats in the Boyne at various stages over the last 200 years.

Source: RTE [May 25, 2021]

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