This month has seen two major milestones achieved. The first was that the Stem, the final element of the backbone of the Ship, was hoisted into place and set up.
The second milestone was that the first major pieces of garboard planking have been converted and are now ready to be attached to the backbone.
We have also agreed on the final specification for the wrought iron nails and roves which will fasten all the planking together and these are now being produced by Alex Pole Ironworks.
As with the Sternpost last month, a platform has been built around the Stem to enable us to work safely at height as we complete the bevelling and hollowing of the inside surface of the stem. This hollowing of the Sternpost is now nearly completed.
As keen students of the archaeology of the Ship might be aware, there has long been a discussion about the planking layout of the Ship with the 1939 excavation photographs showing the ends of the planking running high up the Stem and Sternpost and leading to what might be considered ‘crowding’ of the ‘hood-ends’ and consequently a perceived difficulty in securing these ends of the planking. Indeed, the 2018 Minimum Reconstruction Drawing showed the hood-ends significantly lowered and the plank widths amended accordingly. As a part of our experimental archaeology, we decided to plank our 1:5 scale model differently on each side to compare and contrast these two differing layouts. In Volume 1 of The Sutton Hoo Ship Burial, by Bruce Mitford, it is suggested that the narrower, high-rising plank layout might be necessary to aid the significant twist which needs to be nurtured into the lower strakes of planking as they transition from bottom planking into the fine ends of the Ship. Unfortunately – even at 1:5 scale – the thinness of the planking did not allow any valid comparisons to be made, so we will have to try this out at full scale utilising planks of both shapes to aid a final decision before the planking is finally fitted.
Finally this month we have completed the second of four Axe Safety and Cleaving courses to enable new volunteers to work safely and competently with axes. We look forward to welcoming these volunteers to the Longshed in the near future.
Tim Kirk, Master Shipwright