Saturday, 13 February 2010

Bronze Age shipwreck found off Devon coast (Salcombe)

The Telegraph reports a Bronze Age cargo found off Salcombe, Dorset. Possibly the same as the one reported in 2005 by Culture 24 with some more recently gleaned updates. DD.

From the Telegraph
"The trading vessel was carrying an extremely valuable cargo of tin and hundreds of copper ingots from the Continent when it sank.
Experts say the "incredibly exciting" discovery provides new evidence about the extent and sophistication of Britain's links with Europe in the Bronze Age as well as the remarkable seafaring abilities of the people during the period."
Read on. . .

Divers Discover Bronze Age Wreck And Artefacts Off Devon Coast

"A group of divers has brought a snapshot of Bronze Age life to the surface after unearthing a group of 3,000-year-old artefacts at an ancient wreck site off the Devon coast .Including swords, axe heads, a cauldron handle and a gold bracelet, the finds were discovered by members of the South West Maritime Archaeology Group (SWMAG) in summer 2004 and reported to English Heritage and the Receiver of Wreck. 'This is a very exciting find which shows the breadth of information which is available from shipwreck sites,' explained Receiver of Wreck, Sophia Exelby."


Shan Morgain

From what I've read the structure of the ship is based on generalised guesswork as nothing has yet been brought up of the actual ship.

The guesswork suggests a prehistoric canoe or curragh, of lightweight wooden construction. Paddles are mentioned but not sails. But even quite a narrow boat (estimated at 6ft) would have had at least small sails. There's no way it could have crossed from France purely on musclepower: well it could have but it would have needed a lot more than 15 sailors to provide power. Why do it with wind to help?

The issue that really annoys me is how experts speak of a maritime or water based trade network as if this is such a weird idea.

Land based travel networks are an anachronism when looking at ancient or indeed early history. Until the invention of railways only properly in use about 160 yrs ago, land travel was slow, expensive and risky. Narrow lumpy tracks, with trees on each side to conceal robbers were extremely inefficient. A few empires with great effort kept roads open cutting back on undergrowth to each side. But this was in recorded history, and even then exceptional.

The travel of choice would have been water, which was fast (under sail) and in skilled hands relatively risk free.

Our whole idea of geography is skewed by modern land travel. Cultures spread along coasts and river banks, with other cultures of a very different type clustered inland. A powerful example of water based culture is the Celtic Crescent which stretches from the Hebrides across Ireland and Wales, Cornwall, north west France, around the coast of Spain and into north Africa and southern France.

In these regions we find common language roots, common legends, similar music/ instruments, and shared philosophy e.g. not representing the gods in art.

Curraghs/ coracles were tough boats and coastal peoples would have early got skilled at navigation. Start thinking of the sea and large rivers as like modern motorways and cultural boundaries start to look very different.

angel said...

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