Viking ship found in Boyne to be excavated


An ancient vessel discovered in the river Boyne late last year is to be excavated, Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government Dick Roche announced yesterday.

The vessel is thought to date from the early medieval period and was discovered by chance during dredging operations by the Drogheda Port Company in November.

The wreck lies close to Drogheda port and is believed to be between nine and 16 metres in length. It is described as "clinker built", which is a shipbuilding technology dating from the Viking era but which was still in use centuries later.

"Potentially this is an enormously exciting discovery," Mr Roche said yesterday. "But clearly we have to wait and see what condition the vessel is in and have it dated."

"Carbon-dating analysis of some of the vessel's timbers has been arranged by my department, with the results expected in a number of weeks," he added.

The vessel is lying midstream of the Boyne, meaning it poses a potential shipping hazard and cannot be preserved where it is.

It is hoped that after excavation and further investigation the vessel may eventually be put on public display.

It is envisaged that the investigation and excavation operation will be completed by the end of March.

Mr Roche said yesterday that the National Monuments Service of his department would oversee the excavation in co-operation with conservation experts from the National Museum of Ireland, while the Drogheda Port Company would provide logistical support.

"Discoveries of this type highlight the rich and varied heritage we enjoy in Ireland," said Mr Roche.

"My department and the other authorities involved will make every effort to ensure the preservation of this potentially highly valuable find and its safeguarding for the people of Ireland."

The Minister added: "A find like this can tell us much about the technologies, trading patterns and daily lives of our ancestors and can open a window onto how life was in Ireland over a thousand years ago."