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Tyne and Wear HER(4910): Boldon, River Don, possible viking ship - Details

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S Tyneside

Boldon, River Don, possible viking ship






Early Medieval


In June 1894, men digging a sewer trench in the Don valley found some intriguing wooden remains and contacted Canon Savage, a noted antiquarian and an expert on boats, who subsequently reported the find to the Society of Antiquaries: "… About 250 yards above the viaduct of the Stanhope and Tyne Railway,… the workmen cut across the backbone of a ship, apparently of curved keel, lying some eight feet below the present surface level. Farther south… a knife was found quite below the surface. It has a somewhat tapering blade, edged on one side only, five and a half inches long and one inch broad where it is set into the handle. The handle, which is of bone, is stained a deepish blue colour next to the blade; the iron holder of which passes through the bone handle." Canon Savage referred to the vessel as "the unmistakable framework of an ancient ship, apparently of Scandinavian build". The remains were left in situ and, so far as is known, they have not been disturbed since. Canon Savage's reports have aroused considerable interest since the day they were written. Although the presence of timbers from one sort of structure or another cannot be discounted, there are several reasons why they cannot have been derived from a Viking vessel, nor indeed from a vessel of any large size whatsoever. There are many acceptable alternatives which could be placed within a medieval chronology, of which a timber revetment of the River Don to improve water flow to the Boldon Mill is a possibility.




<< HER 4910 >> T Adey, 2000, Groundwork South Tyneside - Viking Ship Search Rev. Savage, 1898, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle, VIII, 1898 Canon Savage, 1898, Abbess Hilda's First Religious House, Archaeologia Aeliana, 2nd series, XIX, p 58 Tyne and Wear Museums, 1992, Don Valley Survey, p 10-11

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