Medieval Boat Discovery


(photo courtesy Gemeente Utrecht)

As I posted yesterday, the remains of a boat have recently been found in the Leidsche Rijn part of Utrecht after the heavy rains washed away the cloaking dirt. A good story was promised to be revealed in today’s press conference and they didn’t disappoint. Not only is there one boat that’s been uncovered, but there are actually two boats. More impressive is the fact that these boats date back to 750 AD and 950 AD respectively. Amazingly, these are the first boats from this era to be uncovered by archaeologists in the Netherlands. Score!

The older of the two boats measures approximately 50 meters long, while the newly discovered boat from 956 measures in at approximately 20 meters long. This newly discovered ship is so well preserved that some of the moss that was used to keep the ship watertight is still in evidence. There are even marks still visible in the wood from the shipbuilders themselves.

The ships lie in the bed of what was the medieval Rhine River, which flowed through Utrecht on its way to the North Sea. The river was a busy spot during these early years, with Viking incursions, as well as Utrecht’s role as a principal market town. The route of the river has changed since then, so now the Leidsche Rijn, the old site of the Rhine, is providing quite a bit of archaeological bounty. Previously, the remains of six Roman ships were discovered in the area.

You can see some of the photos that have been released of the ships and the site at the Gemeente Utrecht website.

Ship Recovered

Image by Sarolta Ban


It seems that all the rain we’ve had recently has been of some benefit after all. The rain washed away the encasing dirt from a long wooden freight ship in the neighborhood of the Leidsche Rijn Park here in Utrecht. According to the archaeologists on hand, the ship seems to be in relatively good shape, all things considered, and even has some of the traces of the shipbuilding process.

It’s all low-key right now, but the full presentation to the press should be made tomorrow (Wednesday 1 September). Included in the press conference will be information as to how old the ship and its cargo are, as well as the full location of where it was found. According to the municipality, there’s a good story behind it all. I’ll try to keep up on it all and post more info when it’s released.

I found out about it all via RTV Utrecht‘s Twitter feed, and it was on Twitter that I also found a photo taken by a resident at the ship’s site.

The beautiful (and appropriate) surrealistic image at the top is by Sarolta Ban. Go to the Bored Panda site to see much more of her fantastic work.