Giggleswick Tarn Logboat

Today I have been writing new labels for some of the large archaeological items in our store at Leeds Museum Discovery Centre. One of the objects I looked at is a Medieval logboat from Giggleswick Tarn, North Yorkshire, which has a really interesting story to tell.

On May 25th 1863 Mr. Joseph Taylor came across a dug-out canoe while carrying out drainage works on the site of the former Giggleswick Tarn. He thought it to be ‘evidently of Celtic or British workmanship’. The landowner, Mr. William Hartley, promptly donated the boat to Leeds Museum where it was put on display.

On the evening of 16th March 1941 Leeds Museum received a direct hit in one of the wartime bombing raids, devastating parts of the collection. The logboat was shattered into forty-five pieces. Each piece was carefully sifted from the debris, wrapped in sheets of the News Chronicle, and stored in a crate.

It wasn’t until 1974 that the fragments were re-examined with a view to reconstructing the vessel. The pieces were sent down to the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich to be researched, conserved and re-assembled.

As a result of the research done at Greenwich, we now know that the boat was made from a single ash tree and dates to around 1335 AD. It was designed to carry one person sitting on the D-shaped board, from which the boat could be propelled with a paddle. There was also some room for carrying cargo. It is likely that the boat was used to fish from the tarn.

The logboat returned to Leeds City Museum in 1988. It is currently housed in Leeds Museum Discovery Centre, and can be viewed by appointment.

Author: Katherine Baxter, Curator of Archaeology, Leeds Museums and Galleries

One Comment Add yours

  1. Regular Rod says:

    Wonderful! It would be nice to think the fishers were anglers, better still fly fishing anglers…

    It predates the Treatyse, which makes no reference to fishing from boats, by about a hundred years.


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