Hanson Log Boat

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Hanson Log Boat
Museum display of an old log boat
The Hanson Log Boat displayed in Derby Museum and Art Gallery
SizeLength: 10 m (390 in)
Period/cultureBronze Age (3500 bp)
Present locationDerby Museum, Derby

The Hanson Log Boat was a bronze age boat found in a gravel pit in Shardlow in Derbyshire. This log boat is now in Derby Museum and Art Gallery.

Discovery and Preservation[edit]

The log boat was discovered at the Hanson gravel pit in Shardlow, a village south of Derby in 1998, as part of an archaeological watching brief during quarrying operations at the site.[1] The boat was almost complete but was damaged slightly by the quarry machinery before its importance was identified. Sadly the boat had to be sawn into small sections so that it could be transported and conserved because it was so heavy. Much of the weight was due to the boat's waterlogged condition which had preserved the wood and kept it from rotting. The wood was slowly dried at the York Archaeological Trust after it had been immersed for 18 months in poly-ethylene glycol, This chemical penetrated the wood and provided strength.[2] The boat completed its conservation at a cost of £119,000 and is now in Derby Museum.


The boat was dated to 3500 bp, which, at 1500BC is in the Middle Bronze Age, making it around the same age as the Dover Bronze Age Boat and somewhat younger than the Ferriby Boats from Yorkshire. It is made of a single dug-out oak tree trunk.

Decorative spearhead of Irish design


Unusually the boat still had a cargo of Bromsgrove sandstone which had been quarried at Kings Mills nearby. The stone is presumed to have been destined for strengthening a causeway across the River Trent.[2][3]

Second Log Boat[edit]

A second log boat was also discovered at the quarry five years later but it was reinterred in order that it could be preserved.[4]

Other Finds from Shardlow[edit]

The display at Derby Museum also includes metal finds that were also found due to the quarrying at Shardlow. The items mostly date from the Middle Bronze Age and were usually found by metal detectors on the quarries conveyor belts although in one case the artefact was identified by a customer of a bag of sand and it was then possible to trace down the supply chain back to Shardlow quarry. The spear head illustrated is thought to be of design influenced by Irish art and is considered to be a decorative rather than practical spear head. The number of finds of axes and broken rapiers is thought to be due to religious offerings where valuable items were thrown into the water.[5]


  1. ^ Knight, David; Viner, Blaise (2007). "Making Archaeology Matter:Quarrying and Archaeology in the Trent Valley" (PDF). yorkarchaeology.co.uk. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 September 2013. Retrieved 10 June 2013. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  2. ^ a b 1001 objects to inspire derbymuseums.org, accessed 21 April 2013
  3. ^ "Tale of the Bronze Age barge sunk in Trent". British Archaeology. Retrieved 20 September 2013.
  4. ^ Second log boat found near Derby, StonePages.com, citing Derby Evening Telegraph on 24 November 2003 accessed May 2011
  5. ^ Labels at Derby Museum, read June 2011