The Wooden World of Anglo-Saxon and Norman Ships, Boats, and Ports in Context
with Dr Damian Goodburn (Museum of London)
at Sutton Hoo on Saturday, 1st April, 2017

Provisional Programme

09.50 – 10.15:                Coffee and welcome on arrival

10.15 – 11.15:                A practically focussed summary of the archaeological evidence for the forms of boats, ships, and port structures used in the Anglo-Saxon and Norman periods, including a brief appraisal of the contrasting Roman background.  We shall also look at the evidence for dramatic sea-level change and its implications for the use of boats and ships.

11.15 – 11.40:                Coffee break

11.40 – 12.40:                A video tour, with live voice over, of the building of the Sutton Hoo ship reconstruction in the National Trust Exhibition.  Participants will be able to view the reconstruction during the lunch interval. 

12.40 – 14.00:                Lunch break

14.00 – 14.50:                A more detailed look at archaeological evidence for key technological features of Anglo-Saxon, Norman,  Frisian, and Viking boat  and ship building, including simple dugout boats, expanded and extended dugout craft,  flat-bottomed river-barges, and round hulled clinker-built ships.

14.50-15.10                    Tea break

15.10-16.10  A chance to examine samples of real Saxon, Frisian and Viking boat timbers and a brief demonstration of  making Saxon ship style oak frame timber, and special wooden fastenings made of willow ‘whitheynayles’ using Saxon style tools.

  1. 16.10: Thanks and Close

About Dr Damian M. Goodburn

Damian Goodburn worked in traditional boat building and harbour woodworking before studying archaeology.  He obtained a BA at UCL Institute of Archaeology in 1982, and continued with a mixture of professional archaeology work and traditional woodworking until 1985, when he joined the Museum of London. There he specialised in working on waterlogged sites and recording and analysing larger scale woodwork.  This work, much of which has been published, included waterfront structures, buildings, wells, boats, ships, mills, and vehicles.  He completed his PhD. on Early English boat building practice in 2002.   Some of his work has been informed by targeted experimental archaeology, including making reconstructions of boats and early buildings.  He has also been involved in the teaching and media presentations of the archaeology of woodworking since 1991 (Time Team, Secrets of the Ancients, etc.).  He was also part of the team that built the Sutton Hoo ship-burial reconstruction of green oak using Saxon style tools where possible.  Currently he works part time as the Archaeological Woodwork Specialist for MOLA as well as teaching and demonstrating aspects of early woodworking from prehistoric to pre-industrial times.

Some Suggestions for Optional Background Reading

Andersen,  E, , Crumlin-Pedersen,  O,  Vadstrup,  S, and  Vinner,  M,  1997, Roar Ege , Skuldlev 3 skibet, som arkaeologisk  eksperiment.  Vikingeskibshallen, Roskilde.   – most detailed exploration of early medieval clinker plank ship building practice, in Danish but drawings and photos self explanatory.

Ayre,  J,  and Wroe-Brown,  R,  2015, “The Post-Roman Foreshore and the Origins of the Late Anglo-Saxon  Waterfront and Dock of Aethelred’s Hythe: Excavations at Bull Wharf, City of London” (includes contributions by D. Goodburn and others),  Archaeological Journal 172,  pp. 121-194. – has sections on the waterfront structures, buildings and a range of reused Saxon, Frisian, and Viking style boat timbers.

Bruce-Mitford, R, 1975, The Sutton Hoo ship burial, Vol. 1, British Museum. – covers details of the excavation of the ship  stain and impression with lines of nails making up the larger ship burial found at Sutton Hoo dating to c. 625 AD.

Fenwick, V, (ed.), 1978, The Graveney Boat,  BAR Brit Series,  No 53, – detailed account of the excavation and study of the best preserved Anglo-Saxon planked ship yet found dating to around 100 AD.

Greenhill, B, 1976, The archaeology of the boat, Adam and Charles Black. London.  – an old book but still a good introduction to boat archaeology , covering much Saxon, Frisian and Viking evidence and example of the use of ethnographic evidence along side the archaeological.

Goodburn, D, 1983, “Comment on Saxon sea and sail”, International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, 12:2, pp. 173-174.   – discussion of some practical aspects of the sailing and use of Saxon ships sailing with rounded bottoms  and shallow keels but sharp ends.

Goodburn, D, 1986, “Do we have evidence of a continuing Saxon boat building tradition?” International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, 15:1, pp. 39-47.  –  discusses British ethnographic evidence for continuing aspects of Anglo-Saxon boat building tradition in vernacular boats.

Goodburn, D, 1994, “Anglo-Saxon boat finds from London: are they English?”, in C. Westerdahl (ed.), Cross-roads in Ancient Shipbuilding,  Proceedings of the International Symposium on Boat and Ship Archaeology, 6, Roskilde,  Oxbow. –  summarises archaeological evidence for different traditions of boat and ship building found in Late –Saxon London,  local small boats and larger craft made in Saxon, Viking and Frisian style,  known by 1992.

Goodburn, D, and Redknap,  M,  1988,  “Replicas and wrecks from Thames area”,  London Archaeologist,  6:1,  pp. 7-10 and 19-22.  – covers step by step stages in making reconstruction of a late Saxon dugout boat from the River Lea,  based on detailed study of original find (see Marsden, P., Below).

Marsden, P (ed), 1989, “A late Saxon logboat from Clapton, London Borough of Hackney”, International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, 18.2, pp. 89-111. – detailed study of a humble, simple dugout boat of c. 950 AD found not far from the south-western marches of East Anglia.

Milne, G, and Goodburn, D, 1990, “The early medieval port of London”, Antiquity 64, 629-36.  -summarises results of excavations of the early medieval port of London in relation to the sizes of visiting vessels from small dugout boats, to larger planked vessels and  the largest known deep sea trading ships.

Olsen, O, and Crumlin-Pedersen, O, 1978, Five ships from Roskilde fjord, National Museum Copenhagen.  – summarises a range of 5 different types of clinker planked vessel of Viking type, found in the 1960’s and now conserved and displayed at the Roskilde Viking ship Museum.