Magor Pill

Magor Pill Boat, Gwent

Derek Upton found this vessel in 1994 during a visit led by Rick Turner to demonstrate the archaeological potential of the Gwent foreshore. A CADW funded excavation by Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust, was followed by the lifting of the boat, by Second Severn Crossing Plc., and conservation of the timbers by the National Museum Wales.

The vessel was incomplete surviving to a size of 7m by 3.4m but originally would have been 13.2-14.3m long, 3.7m across and a depth of 1.23 m (from the top of the side plank to the keel). It was shell-built with the keel and outer planking erected before the framing timbers were inserted. The hull was clinker built, of overlapping radially split oak planks fastened to each other by iron nails turned over roves (washers). The planks were caulked with wool to prevent seepage. The floor and side timbers were attached to the hull with willow treenails (wooden pegs) secured with oak wedges. The inside of the hull was lined with radially split beech planks attached to the frames with Iron nails.

Tree-ring dating has shown that the ship was built in 1240 AD. It had some repairs during its life, most notably where a crack in a hull plank on the port side was mended with oak laths attached from the inside. Its shallow draft was ideal for travelling up the small tidal creeks of the estuary to service small ports or landing places carrying cargos of up to 3.75 metric tonnes. It was carrying iron ore from Glamorgan to such a place when it foundered in the creek, possibly because its cargo shifted on the wooden hurdle it was place on or because the keel split at a weak point caused by a side branch.

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Magor Pill: Image 1
Magor Pill: Image 2