Hasholme Boat

In August 1984, the excavations began. A large area of topsoil and clay was dug by machine from where the timber had been found. Around a metre beneath the surface traces of a massive boat began to appear. For several weeks, the archaeologists carefully removed by hand the sticky clay silt that had covered her. Slowly she emerged until at last the entire vessel was revealed for the first time in 2000 years.

She was made from an oak tree that had been cut down around 450 BC. The tree had been hollowed out and trimmed to make a vessel over 12.5 metres long. The open stern was blocked off by a bulkhead or transom that fitted tightly into a slot cut for it. On the transom a u shaped projection – perhaps to support the steering tackle – can be seen. The bow end had been damaged when the drain cutter went through her, but from the salvaged fragments it will be possible to piece together the prow which includes a platform something like a punt.

On the intact side of the bow a crescent, like an eye had been carved. In the bottom of the boat, some loose timbers were found. For now their purpose remains a mystery. The boat was leaning to one side, and large quantities of cattle bones found nearby may have been part of a last cargo of meat.

Within the waterlogged clay, and in peat deposits beneath there a microscopic clues about the life of this great boat. From studying sediments, pollen, seeds and insect remains the archaeologists will get a picture of how the local environment, the vegetation and wildlife, changed up to the Iron Age when the Hasholme Boat was at work.

(Hasholme being the area of Holme on Spalding Moor that the boat was found in)

Length: Over 12.5m (41 feet)
Breadth: 1.5m (5 foot)
Height at stern: 1.2m (4 foot)
Weight: Approx 6 tonnes
Material: Oak.
Date: Iron Age, approx. 450 BC
(400+70 BC radiocarbon )


In the 1930’s hundreds of shards (broken pot) were visible on the surface of the land and more were being turned up every time the land was worked. The field called Pot Hill Field at Throlam was excavated by Dr Kirk (whose collection of bygones are housed in the Castle Museum, York.), and Mr P.Corder in 1936. It was found to be Roman Pottery dating back to the second century. A series of kilns were excavated and examined. Boys from Hull Grammar school assisted in the work and in the coarse of a few days about 12cwt of shreds were removed to Hull Museum. Some of these were reconstructed and placed on display within the museum. Unfortunately they were all destroyed in the Second World War Blitz. The Roman British pots found were of a type named after the site Throlam Ware.


Hasholme Hall is at the southern edge of the parish, it’s southern boundary runs along the River Foulness, which has changed its course many times and one possibly earlier coarse passes within a few hundred yards of the site of the excavated kilns. With clay on the site, timber for fuel and the possibility of the river for transport, its not difficult to see why this area became a pottery in Roman British times. As each supply of materials were exhausted, another site was selected and new kilns were constructed. The kilns themselves were never moved, they were merely abandoned after 3 or 4 firings.

An iron anvil was found in a series of ditches on the site at Hasholme. This anvil is a unique find, the only one of its kind ever found in Britain. It measured approx. 17 1/2 cm x 14 1/2cm x 8cm and weighs 28lbs. It could possibly have been made at Hasholme, as lumps of iron ore known locally as ‘nosmun’ (which is naturally formed) are to be found in the sand layer on the land, so the material which it was made was readily available. This anvil along with all the pottery found at Hasholme has been deposited in the Hull museum. One of the excavated kilns was also removed and taken to Hull but to date this has not been placed on display.

With the existence of these Roman kilns in the area there is a possibility that somewhere there could be the site or remains of a Roman villa. Mr Johnson at Bursea has discovered types of Roman Drains in his garden, but there is no evidence, just speculation.


The only indication of the Saxons is a stone carving in the tower of All saints Church of a figure carrying a lamb, possibly a piece of stone from the original wood and stone Saxon church.