Image taken from www.100objects.ie
This beautiful gold boat is a particular favourite of mine and until very recently I thought it was an isolated find, however, it was in fact, part of a gold hoard dating to the first century BC. This is by far the shining light of the deposited artefacts and now takes pride of place in the National Museum of Ireland. The hoard was found near Limavady, Northern Ireland in 1896 by Tom Nicholl, interestingly Belfast only holds replicas of the hoard and this particular artefact does not feature in the Ten Major Pieces (as chosen by National Museum of Ireland).
The boat is modest in size reaching c.18cm in length and some c.7.5cm in width. Despite this it is the best known model of a vessel of the period, particularly one that is truly sea-worthy. In reality wood is the most likely material of construction though hide may be possible. The Broighter Boat is complete with oars, two sets of 9, with 8 benches present. It is thought that a bench may be missing this making it possible that 18 people we required to power a presumed real version. The vessel also has a rudder allowing for control and tools were also found with it relating to grappling. There were also 3 forks, a spear and a yardarm. The details contained within the boat make it highly desirable for study into prehistoric vessels and the potential they had for trade and population movements...I certainly wouldn't say no! But it also illustrates the skills of the metalworkers involved and the importance of the piece. The fact that this little boat survives so well is testiment to it being part of a hoard, I am of the belief it was made to be buried, possibly to please an Irish water deity such as Manannán mac Lir.
I hope you have enjoyed the Broighter Boat as much as I do, but today I have a little bonus for you, particularly Iron Age fans....Many of you may have seen posts relating to an Iron Age helmet and associated brooch and spike, but for those that haven't I wouldn't want you to miss out so be sure to visit Annie at: http://beadsboatsandflowerbeds.blogspot.co.uk/