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Museum Object of the Month (March 2019)

20 Mar 2019

KMS 1987.817

The Kentmere Viking Boat

Viking boat

To complement our Viking Day held on 16th March 2019, this month's object is the Kentmere Viking Boat. 

Mr Leslie Ridding discovered this dugout boat measuring 3 metres in length when extracting earth from the bed of Kentmere Tarn in June 1959. The boat was subsequently donated to Kendal Museum by the landowner. The boat’s construction and design are very basic. The interior surface is darkened, probably as the result of controlled burning of the log during its construction, which allows the wood to be hollowed and shaped easier. Hiberno-Norse or 'Viking' artefacts were also discovered within the deposit of the lake, and for this reason it was given the name ‘the Viking boat’, although it had never been officially dated.

In 2015, the boat emerged from the store to be cleaned and went on display for the first time since its discovery. The museum contacted experts from Oxford Archaeology North to examine the boat, and a small sample of the wood was removed for analysis. The result showed that the wood was Ash, which would have to be radiocarbon dated in order to provide an approximate date for the find. A successful crowd funding campaign raised enough money for the dugout boat to be radiocarbon dated by the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre. In November 2015, the radiocarbon analysis results showed that the boat dates from the late 10th to the mid-12th century, most likely pre-Norman conquest, which fits in with the Viking period.

The Viking boat is on permanent display in our Kendal and Westmorland Gallery.