Boat made 5,000 years ago found by men on River Boyne fishing trip

Discovery close to Newgrange dates from Neolithic period

The remains of a 5,000-year-old logboat have been discovered in the River Boyne near Newgrange.

The discovery close to the Brú Na Bóinne World Heritage site dates to the Neolithic period, scientific dating has confirmed. According to a statement by Minister for Culture Josepha Madigan the prehistoric boat was found in June 2016 by four local anglers while fishing on the river at Oldbridge, Co Meath.

Stephen Murphy, Kieran Mahar, William Gregory and David Johnston reported it to the heritage authorities.

The vessel consist of a three-meter length of wood which would have formed the base of the boat. It is estimated that it was originally more than four meters long, shaped out of the trunk of an oak tree using stone axes.


This discovery is one of 11 logboats found in the River Boyne, though this is the first boat found to date to the Neolithic period .

A sample of the wood has very recently been radiocarbon dated to between 3,300-2,900BC. It was during this period the ancient passage tomb complexes of Knowth, Dowth and Newgrange were built.

"The National Monuments Service Underwater Archaeology Unit and the National Museum of Ireland collaborated in recording the boat and carefully removing it from the river bed to the museum facilities, where it is currently undergoing conservation," the statement said.

“The importance of this discovery and the scientific date which has now been obtained for it lies in its contemporaneity with the building of the Great Passage tomb of Newgrange and the other wonderful passage tombs that dominate our World Heritage Site of Brú na Bóinne,” Ms Madigan said.

“It is tempting to ponder the part such a vessel might have played in the construction of these burial monuments and the lives of those who built them, in ferrying people along the river, and transporting materials and stones used to build the great tombs.”

Patrick  Logue

Patrick Logue

Patrick Logue is Digital Editor of The Irish Times