Iron Age log boat made by Edinburgh volunteers has maiden voyage at Granton harbour

A traditional Iron Age log boat made by volunteers has taken its maiden voyage at Granton harbour.

Thursday, 1st July 2021, 12:30 pm
The log boat launched at Granton this month
The log boat launched at Granton this month

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Despite Covid setbacks, volunteers completed the historical replica – which finally saw its first voyage around Granton harbour – after three years in the making.

The boat, which can transport up to eight people, was made from the hollowed-out trunk of a tree cut down from the shores of Loch Ness. It was carved using axes and sharp tools, built as close to traditional methods as possible.

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Volunteers at Granton Hub recreated the boat with archaeologist members of The School of Ancient Crafts, which teaches people the skills that distant ancestors would have used in their daily lives in ‘living history’ workshops.

Based on the design of an original log boat from 1875, found in the National Museum of Scotland on Chambers Street, it was made as part of an experimental archaeology project funded by Heritage Lottery Funds.

Romain Viguier, who led the project, said the team was proud to see the boat finally launched this month.

"We had to stop work on the boat during lockdowns, so for months it was in the garden of Granton Hub, which was the site of the first purpose-built factory for electric cars built in 1898. It's a special place and a reminder of how Scots back then were so ahead of their time, true visionaries. We are very proud to get it finished and out on the water.

"The boat is one of many things from ancient times that are still incredibly useful but that we have forgotten about. And it’s a lot of fun.

“It all started with my wife’s passion for ancient wonders of the world. Back in the day, people were incredibly self-sufficient. It’s good to tap into that. Communities designed, built and modified things like crannogs and pyramids. We quickly retrieved the techniques, but for me the most amazing thing to come out of this was that people from all walks of life, from academics to homeless people, all came together to work with this big eight-tonne log.

"It’s a reminder how much we need to be able to get together and involve everyone, we built a little community. Some volunteers came back every week.

"The boat is an old form of transport and low carbon because it’s paddled by human power. It was truly amazing to be out on the boat for its first voyage along with my ten-year-old son. The plan is to do future journeys open to everyone of all ages, and it’s free though we are open to donations. We will take people between Granton and Newhaven. It's a boat built by the community for the community.”

It is hoped the boat, which is moored in Granton harbour, will be taken out across the Forth later this year.

Mr Viguier added: “We will get a well trained crew together and do it in good weather. But we will take it all in steps. For now it’s there for people to enjoy a trip on Sundays.”

The £5000 project was organised by the School of Ancient Crafts and supported by the Forestry Commission and Granton Hub.

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