11 months, three oak trees and a team of volunteers...
History was made in Cornwall today as a unique project to recreate a 4,000-year-old boat reached its conclusion.
The 50ft long, five-tonne vessel attracted a crowd of spectatorsas it launched into the waters of Falmouth Harbour.
A first for experimental archaeology and a first for the National Maritime Museum Cornwall, the prehistoric boat was reconstructed as part of a collaborative project with the University of Exeter.
A team of volunteers, led by shipwright Brian Cumby, have spent the best part of a year building the boat out of oak logs using replica methods and tools, such as bronze headed axes.
Andy Wyke, Boat Collection Manager at the museum, said: ‘It has been incredible to see this whole project take shape in the museum building over the past 11 months.
‘Volunteers have poured everything into transforming three oak trees to what we have seen and achieved today.
‘It’s been an incredible journey and one that will be remembered not only in our and Falmouth’s history.
‘All the discoveries made have proven maritime history. Academic theory has come to life. We’re all so proud.’
The boat building project was led by Professor Robert Van de Noort from the University of Exeter, one of the world’s leading experts in Bronze Age period boats.
He said: “I’m so happy with the responsiveness of the boat.
‘We always said you had to build the whole boat to understand what Bronze Age people experienced.
‘When I was steering the boat and it got up to speed, I could turn her easily and it was more seaworthy than I expected. We have learnt so much through the whole process and today’s launch has revolutionised everything we knew.
‘There have been doubters, professionally, who questioned the feasibility of this vessel crossing the seas. This project has proven that it was possible.’