Sunday, 10 May 2009

The Peris Boat

Yesterday our friends Russ and Liz came to visit. They inhabit the same historical world that we do and provide Viking boat demonstrations. Recently Russ added in a Tudor boat to his display and a few weeks ago we went along to visit him and help with his publicity photos - suitably attired! (I'm in the red gown with yellow underskirt and blue hat)We had a really fun day outside the old hall setting up the boat and playing around in front of such a wonderful backdrop. We developed quite an audience of locals in the end trying to work out what was going on (maybe they thought the ghosts had come alive!!!)

The reason for their visit yesterday was Russ had discovered by chance that there is an original Tudor boat in a museum in Llanberis - so off we went down to Snowdonia for the afternoon!
We started at the slate museum, thinking that would be a logical place - she was found at the lakeside just outside the museum building, however as with all these things, they're never where you expect and we had to go round to the Electric Mountain Visitor Centre! (This was actually to our advantage as we didn't have to pay anything to go in and see her, not that we would have begrudged paying, it would have been worth ever penny) She's just through the main entrance hall in a large exhibition room and is the only thing in there except for chairs and local artists' work on the walls, she is so accessible that you can wander all round, and even get "up close and personal" with a ruler to get all the dimensions! Sadly there was no archaeological report available, so further investigation is required on that front.

"Tudor boat" to me conjors up images of the Mary Rose and battleships and Francis Drake etc, but in reality the Peris boat is for working along the shores of the lake (similar boats would have plied the coast) going from each of the harbours selling fish or transporting animals and people to their next destination. The design is very similar to the period paintings of "Cock Boats" She would have been "powered" by 2 or 3 rowers and the rollock holes for the oars are very obvious in the wood of the inwales.

The amount of history in those few pieces of wood is fantastic - the method of construction is very clear - oak was very common in N Wales hundreds of years ago - the whole area was forested, "clinker built" means that the planks were split radially with a hammer and wedges and then these individual planks were fitted together by a method known as scarfing, that is tapering and joining of two opposing ends to make a strake. (image is of scarfing)

A strake was a continuous row of planks long enough to run from one end of the boat to the other. The strakes were overlapped at the edges and then joined (top edge to bottom edge of the next strake) to form a series of lands, they were fastened with wrought iron nails clenched over roves (washers) on the inside. The strakes were fastened to internal frames with treenails (large wooden pegs)
The boys obviously had to have every measurement of the boat to make sure that Russ's was the correct proportions (which it is!) John has the ruler in hand and Russ is pointing out a particular feature!

What a find! and so real - much more so than when I saw the Mary Rose hull.
Photos copyright Russell Scott and Debbie Bamford


Anonymous said...

The reconstructed boat looks very impressive - I can only guess how much work must have gone in to making it! The Young Archaeologists Group where I was a leader made a dug out canoe once and that involved a lot of backbreaking labour and was a mere fraction of the size of this! I was wondering... have any of you ventured out onto the water on it or is it strictly for display purposes? Great that your friends were able to check the dimensions on an actual tudor boat too.

Debbie said...

The reconstructed boat does go on the water - will be at Gloucester Docks for the event on the last weekend of May. In fact I think it's got a few outings this year. The first time on the water, a few days after the photo shoot was quite interesting - there was a lot of bailing out being done!!!

Helen said...

Fascinating-and I love the costumes.The blue hat you are wearing looks gorgeous.First time I have seen it on. Heel;n