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Page last updated at 09:59 GMT, Monday, 18 January 2010
Iron Age log boat from Poole Harbour is 'star object'
The log boat at Poole Museum
The log boat has been on display at Poole Museum since 2007

A 10-metre-long boat made from a single oak log is the largest object of its kind to be found in southern Britain.

Now preserved at Poole Museum, the log boat is one of ten objects from Dorset's museums to form part of the History of the World project.

It tells the story of the world through significant objects found in museums.

Katy Gardiner, Poole Museum's community and collections curator, said: "The log boat is one of our star objects; it's the only one to be found in a harbour."

Found in Poole Harbour

The log boat was accidentally uncovered in 1964 during dredging work in Poole Harbour, and then the rest of it was found by divers a month later.

For years it was kept submerged in water to help preserver and protect it, and the log boat has only been on display at the museum since 2007.

There was concern that the log boat, which dates back to 295 BC, could break up and disintegrate.

So a more unusual-sounding method of preservation was chosen, to help it get ready for display.

Katy said: "In the mid 1990s we took the decision to keep it conserved in sugar.

"It was soaked in a sugar syrup for a period of about five years so it could dry out, and kept in a controlled atmosphere."

The 10 metre long log boat was preserved in a sugar syrup
The 10 metre long log boat was preserved in a sugar syrup

Unique object

The log boat is a unique object for Dorset.

She said: "It's important to Dorset, there's no other object like it here. It's an example of a prehistoric boat from the Iron Age."

The museum doesn't know the exact circumstances of the log boat's use but it is thought it could have carried up to 18 people.

"We know there was lots of activity in the harbour, and we also know there was bracelet/jewellery production going on Green Island [one of the islands in Poole Harbour], so it may have helped transport goods and workers."

But the boat would not have travelled very far, for fear of capsizing in deeper waters: "The log boat would not have gone beyond the harbour."

The use of log boats made from a single log became less popular in Britain during medieval times, but they are still being made elsewhere in the world, such as the Pacific Islands and parts of Africa.

Michael Spender, Poole Museum's manager, said: "At over 2,000 years old, the Poole log boat is a unique physical link with seafaring in Iron Age Dorset, when Poole Harbour was a significant port trading goods such as shale armlets and ironwork.

"The fact that the Poole log boat has survived at all is remarkable; whilst many were made, prehistoric boats are rare finds."

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