Heritage & Culture

Must Farm boats are older than first thought

↑ One of the Must Farm boats, courtesy of Cambridge Archaeology Unit

Peterborough’s most famous archaeological treasures just got even more extraordinary: the Must Farm boats, found by archaeologists in 2011, have been carbon-dated to 1500BC, making them 200 years older than previously thought. This means that the sophisticated Bronze Age fishing and boat-building industry the existence of the boats revealed was flourishing even earlier.

Carbon-dating work already carried out at the site in and around Flag Fen has aimed to uncover the timelines relating to the age of the long-gone watercourses the boats would have used, linking up the Midlands and the North Sea. Now the boats themselves have been dated, conservation will continue, ensuring the vessels are preserved. Ian Panter, the archaeological conservator who is working on the project and who also worked on conserving the Mary Rose, described the long process the boats would go through to achieve desired levels of preservation: ‘We’ll gradually impregnate the wood with Polyethylene Glycol wax, spraying them over the next two to three years. Once we think sufficient wax has penetrated into the wood we can begin to dry them with cold refrigerated air. That’s probably going to take upward of two years.’

For more on the Must Farm boats visit www.mustfarm.com

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