The Poole Iron Age logboat project




The Poole Iron Age logboat project has begun. Because of its fragility and confined position within the glass case at Poole Museum, the vessel could not be moved so an innovative approach had to be found.

The Consortium: 1st Horizon Surveying & Engineering, Bournemouth University, Pat Tanner, an expert in the digital reconstruction and 3D modelling of vessels and MAST developed the methodology.

The Technology: Other known digital recording technologies such as a Faro Arm would have been unable to access the narrow parts underneath the vessel. However a Faro3D laser scanner was the ideal kit for the job to capture a full and complete point cloud of the vessel to a +/- 2mm single point accuracy and a +/- 3 to 4mmm across the entire project. The scanning was carried out by 1rst Horizon Surveying & Engineering.

The Logboat: The Poole logboat lies in a majestic position in the entrance at Poole Museum in Dorset. It is one of the largest prehistoric water craft to survive in the UK. Scientific dating by the radio carbon method has provided it with a date of BC 295 ± 50 (RC), dating it to the Iron Age.

Because of its size and poor sea-keeping abilities (most likely inherently unstable because of its shallow draught) it would appear to have been specifically designed for use in Poole Harbour. Hence it is also a key local and international artefact. 

Extraordinarily, whilst there has been considerable amounts of research on the vessel since its discovery in 1964, most has been on an ad hoc basis and has never reached the public domain.

Furthermore the vessel has, until now, never been recorded effectively so our understanding of its construction, functionality and seagoing abilities are very limited.

The logboat being prepped

The logboat prepped and ready to be recorded

Checking the Faro 3D laser scanner ahead of the recording

Using the Faro3D laser scanner manually


Now, thanks to very generous donations from the Robert Braithwaite's Autumn Trust, the Gosling Foundation, The Headley Trust and the Valentine Charitable Trust we are able to complete the digital recording of the vessel and meet the publication costs of the monograph. The newly created digital data will contribute enormously to our fairly limited knowledge of prehistoric craft. New technology, only recently available now means that we have been able to carry out the work without disturbing it in any manner, and at a relatively low cost.

The final goal is to collate and complete the research into the vessel and to make it available in a publicly accessible way.
A monograph will include distinct chapters on the archaeological and historical background, the environmental context,
the timber science and ship science aspects, the conservation conducted on it and a section on its interpretation and
public display.

MAST is seeking further funding to cover the research and reporting aspects.