Launch that canoe!

Canoe launch, neolithic beech tree, forestry commission

In the past the reed swamp, bogs and mires of the Avalon Marshes were difficult to cross! Neolithic man  overcame this by constructing trackways. However, in the Iron Age the marshes  became far wetter and dugout canoes replaced these trackways.

Working under the guidance of Richard Brunning of the South West Heritage Trusts, Hands on Heritage volunteers have recently completed two sections  of  replica trackway. Today saw the literal launch of their next project having completed the construction of a dugout canoe. The canoe was launched at Natural England’s Shapwick Heath National Nature Reserve and the volunteers paddled it through the open water between tall reeds as people would have done all those years ago.

The canoe was carved out of a single Beech tree donated by the Forestry Commission. The tree came from the Blackdown Hills near Castle Neroche. Whilst it was not moved across Somerset by manual labour it was hard manual work that carved the canoe from the tree! Replica Iron Age tools and the sheer hard graft of the volunteers were the key to success.

The volunteers are based at the Avalon Marshes Centre and meet up each Wednesday, come rain or shine, grafting away to replicate the techniques used in past times. The Hands on Heritage project is run by the South West Heritage Trust and is part of the Heritage Lottery funded Avalon Marshes Landscape Partnership.

To watch the BBC news report of the launch open this link and click on the play button.

To get involved as a volunteer go to our volunteering page.
To read more about the work of the Hands on Heritage volunteers go to their blog.

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