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Funding awarded to protect Flag Fen Bronze Age log boats

Historic England has awarded a grant of more than £73,000 to ensure the conservation and protection of rare Bronze Age log boats at Flag Fen in Cambridgeshire.
The log boats are displayed at Flag Fen, near Peterborough (Photo: Terry Harris)

In order to ensure the long-term protection of this important aspect of our national culture, Historic England has stepped in with grant funding of £73,261 for a three-year project to develop the conservation and preservation of the log boats. Match funding of £48,854 has been provided by Peterborough City Council. The conservation work will be led by York Archaeological Trust.

In 2011, the discovery of eight Bronze Age log boats was made at Must Farm, on the edge of a working quarry at Whittlesey, by the Cambridge Archaeological Unit.

The log boats have been deemed to be of international historic importance, offering an insight into life 3,000 years ago. They show how people moved through the Fens landscape, but analysis has also revealed how the boats were made, what tools and techniques were used, the species of tree chosen, how those trees were felled and the composition of the woodland they came from.

From 2011 to 2012, a full excavation of the log boats was carried out by Cambridge Archaeological Unit, funded by Forterra, the owners of the site. Since their excavation, the eight log boats have been on display in climate-controlled conditions at Flag Fen Visitor Centre. Their conservation involves being constantly sprayed with a wax and water solution.

When Vivacity handed control of Flag Fen back to the council, a conservation strategy was outlined and Historic England has since awarded the grant to develop conservation and protection of these boats.

The log boats will be displayed at Flag Fen throughout the conservation work.

Regional director of Historic England in the East of England Tony Calladine said: "The impact of Covid-19 has been immediate and devastating for many cultural and heritage organisations. In this urgent situation, Historic England stepped in to ensure the protection of these incredibly rare historic artefacts. It is vital that such internationally-significant objects as the Must Farm log boats are protected and conserved so they can tell their story to future generations."