Diggers working on a stretch of floodbank along the River Chet found more than they bargained for when the remains of an ancient boat were uncovered in the peaty soil.

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An excavator driver spotted some timber remains in the ground during the excavation of a new drainage ditch, and work was suspended.

Archeologists investigated whether these were of any significance, and after examining the timber, found it to be a boat between 400 and 600 years old.

“This is an extremely rare and important find, said Heather Wallis, an archeologist working on the site, “no boats of this date have previously been found in Norfolk so this has been a unique opportunity to record and recover a vessel of this date and type.”

A team worked at the site for three weeks, uncovering the mysteries of the abandoned boat.

Jeremy Halls, environmental manager at Broadland Environmental Services, said: “It is a small six metre long boat and will have had a sail.”

“It stands out because although it wasn’t the best quality timber, it was put together skilfully.”

Experts believe the boat’s thin planking and light frames suggest it could have carried light produce to market, such as butter, eggs, chickens and vegetables.

Wooden pegs, iron nails, and copper alloy nails, as well as animal hair and tar used as waterproofing, were used in the construction of the boat.

The boat will be excavated in the next few days and removed to York or Peterborough where specialists will study the wood for more detailed research into the boat’s history.

Eventually, the piece of history will be preserved through a freeze drying process and placed on display in a Norfolk museum.

For more on this see this week’s Beccles and Bungay Journal

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