Shipwright’s report – Tim Kirk

12 foot midships model

Since we returned to operations in the Longshed at the beginning of August we have continued training and preparation to begin the actual build of the ship.  Covid has restricted numbers working but we have been able to plank the lower half of the midships model on the port side, using oak from the ‘twisted’ log that we took delivery of in autumn 2019.  Jo Wood, David Turner and Dave Rowley completed the work, including testing two caulking methods – both known to have been used in Anglo-Saxon and Viking period ships. Both methods worked equally well, providing us with something of a conundrum as to which to apply in the ship.

A different team will complete the planking in order to broaden the skill-base within the Ship’s Crew.

The starboard side has been completed in mock-up by Mike Pratt and David Steptoe, using plywood and softwoods.  We are getting on with that so that we can begin the experimental part of the project – investigating the bio-mechanics of rowing the ship. Nothing is known of the internal structure and the rowing positions will have to be derived from various technical procedures.  Jacq Barnard is involving specialists from British Rowing to advise on this aspect of the build.

Oars

We now have one (prototype) oar, made using modern techniques from the ash received last spring from Suffolk Wildlife Trust.  We had to use power tools to shape this oar because the wood had seasoned, and hardened, during the lockdown.   Still, it is a work of art – thank you Simon Charlesworth.  Brian Hunt is constructing a second oar.

Keel and strakes

We have laid a false floor in the Longshed to rest the 12 metre keel log on, in preparation for working it and subsequent cleaving of the garboard strakes (the first planks of the hull).  We will work on the second, curved, log for the stem and stern and keel ends at a new site located at Hoo House Farm (a few miles from Woodbridge).  We have temporary use of a barn similar in size to the Longshed and much of the initial cutting and cleaving of logs will be done there.  We will bring the semi-finished components into to the Longshed for final finishing and assembly.

The supports and false floor ready for the keel log
1:5 model

This model is really important as a source of practical information for the full-size build.  John Cannon and Clive Cartmel have completed battening-out of the planking.  Doing so has raised issues with the layout of the planking – that’s one of the next problems to be solved.  But its much better to identify issues like that now than when we are working on the shipbuild with hefty full-size planks five times as big.

The 1:5 model battened up for planking

Next…

Research continues; very little information exists about Saxon-era anchors and mooring systems.  Vicky Fleming has written a very stimulating research paper on the subject.  Joe Startin continues to lead on our research and has gleaned nuggets of information from the folk at Nydam in Denmark.  I am excited to be writing the dissertation for my degree on the development of the side-rudder, with particular reference of the Sutton Hoo Ship.

The next stages of the build will focus on the conversion of the keel and its extensions (the ‘underlouts’), lofting of the sections of the ship and making the moulds to check the accuracy of the shape as we build.

Many thanks to all those involved and we hope that as we go forward we will again be able to involve more people in the build team. Apologies to anyone whose contribution has not been acknowledged – I really value all the contributions that you make.

Tim Kirk, Shipwright 5:11:20