07 March 2012
An extraordinary multi-national archaeological research project was launched at Dover Museum yesterday (Tuesday, 6 March, 2012).
'Boat 1550 BC' brings together seven partners from the UK, France and Belgium to build a replica of the Dover Bronze Age Boat.
Canterbury Archaeological Trust and Canterbury Christ Church University will play key roles in the two-and-a-half-year long project, which culminates with the sea-launch of the boat and a major touring exhibition.
Apart from serious academic research, the project is intended to capture the popular imagination of those living in the ‘Transmanche’ region, especially children and young people, and inspire them to explore our shared ancient past and common heritage.
The project stems from the discovery in 1992 of a Bronze Age boat which had lain hidden for more than 3500 years deep under the centre of Dover. It was located during the construction of an underpass and sparked several frantic days of rescue excavations to save it from destruction.
The Boat 1550 BC project launch took place on the Roman Lawn at Dover Museum, just a few metres away from where the now fully conserved vessel is housed in its own special environmentally-controlled gallery. The event included demonstrations of ancient boat-building and woodworking using authentic replica Bronze Age tools – all part of the early stages of constructing the half scale replica.
Joint project leader and Canterbury Archaeological Trust Deputy Director, Peter Clark, said: “I have been working towards this moment for more than ten years. It’s very exciting. As the days and weeks go by we will learn so much about how our ancestors were able to build such a remarkable vessel.
“We can only speculate about how often people crossed the channel and how close were the ties, but one thing is certain, this project will bring the modern communities in Northern France, Belgium and England just that little bit closer together.”
Canterbury Christ Church University’s Department of Postgraduate Initial Teacher Education will lead the educational side of the project which will sign up local schools in the region to attend educational events.
William Stow, Head of Postgraduate Initial Teacher Education, said: “The launch of this project is an exciting time for history and archaeology in the region and we’re delighted that the University is able to be involved with the educational side of the boat’s reconstruction.
“Having an amazing archaeological discovery such as the Bronze Age Boat is a fantastic resource for children in the local area and we’re looking forward to engaging them with vital parts of Bronze Age history throughout the project.”
The school project will allow children to learn about the Bronze Age boat from their classrooms through specially designed materials, including handling kits of replica Bronze Age objects and original finds.
The completed boat will be unveiled in Dover later this year with a public launching ceremony before being the centrepiece of a touring exhibition starting in Boulogne-sur-Mer. The exhibition is scheduled to spend six months in France, six months in Belgium and six months in England.
Spanning three countries, the seven partners who are involved in the project include: the University of Lille 3 and the Maison Européenne des Sciences de l’Homme et de la Société (France), acting as Lead Partner, the Canterbury Archaeological Trust (UK), l’Institut National de Recherches Archéologiques Préventives (France), Canterbury Christ Church University (UK), the University of Ghent (Belgium), the Conseil général du Pas-de-Calais (France) and the town of Boulogne-sur-Mer (France).
The series of events will take place throughout 2012 when the 20th anniversary of the discovery of the boat takes place. Funded by InterReg IV A "2 Mers Seas Zeeën”, the project is intended to run until 2014. Thereafter the educational kits will become freely available for future teachers to use.
Visit http://boat1550bc.meshs.fr/for more information on the project.
Canterbury Christ Church University
Canterbury Christ Church University is a modern university with a particular strength in higher education for the public services.
With nearly 20,000 students, and five campuses across Kent and Medway, its courses span a wide range of academic and professional subject areas.