medieval boat

Fishbones reveal our ancient transport secrets

By Clodagh Sheehy

Old fish bones and dead insects could be the key to the story of Ireland's transport system, 500 years before gridlock.

The fish bones, insect carcasses and dead plant material are wedged in the timbers of a medieval boat recovered from the river Boyne, near Drogheda.

The boat has now been lifted from the river-bed and the Department of Environment is looking for experts who will be able to unravel the story from minute remains left in the vessel.

The "Drogheda Boat" was discovered during dredging operations in the river and carbon dating of some of the timbers suggest it is at least 500 years old.

The Department wants a proper analysis, which should be able to pinpoint the age of the boat to within a couple of decades.

The wreck of the medieval coastal boat is the first discovery of its kind in Ireland and, unusually, much of the boat is intact.

It was excavated and lifted from the river bed by the Department's Underwater Archaeology Unit in cooperation with the National Museum of Ireland and Drogheda Port company.