Discovery of a Dug-Out Canoe in the Thames at Hampton Court

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  • Discovery of a Dug-Out Canoe in the Thames at Hampton Court.Author(s): A. Lane FoxSource: The Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, Vol. 7(1878), pp. 102-103Published by: Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and IrelandStable URL: .Accessed: 14/06/2014 20:15

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  • 102 Anthropological fiscellanea.

    their mourning is an abstinence of three days from flesh and salt. They swear on earth taken from an ant-hill-a sacred object-and on a tiger-skin."

    There are several stories to account for their leaf-wearing habits, but apparently of Brahmanical concoction, told for the Juangs rather than by them. Their own idea simply is, that the fashion of dress should never change, and that for women it should be simple and cheap. The males have, however, abandoned leaves of late, and use in lieu the smallest quantity of cotton cloth that can be made to serve the purposes of decency. They appeared to Col. Dalton the most primitive of all the tribes he encountered, and he seems to think that in them we have a veritable survival and example of a prehistoric people, in situt, as he expresses it.


    TOWARDS the commencement of the present month, June, 1877, a boatman of the name of Walford fishing in the river just opposite Hampton Court Palace discovered a large block of wood, as it ap- peared to him, embedded in the river bottom, near the bank on the side opposite to the palace. Being very familiar with this part of the river on accoant of his boats being kept for hire on the oppo- site side, and knowiu-g that the block in question must be a new arrival in this spot, he determined to hawl it up. He had re- peatedly sounded the river bottom in all directions, and nothing of the kind had attracted his observation up to that time; the block in question must, therefore, have been recently uncovered or must have been washed there from some part of the river higher up. On bringing it to the surface it was found to be part of a canoe of oak dug out of the solid tree, and in an adva-nced state of decay. Some portions were wanting, but sufficient remained to determine its size and form. Having heard of the discover5r through the kindness of Lord Arthur Russell, M.P., I went to see it on the 29th of the month, about three weeks after its discovery. It is fiat-bottomed, the bottom rising slightly towards the front and stern, the bow is rouanded, the stern has evidently been square, but the back-piece is wanting; the sides are perpendicular, 15 inches in height, interior measurement, and the top has been level from end to end, not rising at the bow or stern; the greatest width, interior measurement, taken along the flat.bottom, is 2 feet 6 inches, but this diminishes in front to 2 feet at the place where the scooped out bow commences.

    One side only is perfect from the bow for a distance of about two- thirds of its length, the whole of the starboard side is deficient except at the bottom; the sides and bottom are about 2 inches in

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  • Anthropological liseellanea. 103

    thickness; the stern is strengthened along the bottom at 1 foot from the end by a raised ridge or "knee," 3 inches in width by l2 in height, carved out of the solid; whether this ridge ascended the sides or not cannot now be ascertained, as the sides are want- ing in this part; towards the bow on the perfect side, at about 2 inches from the top, is a circular hole 2 inches in diameter, which may have been used to fasten a stay, or may have served for the loop of a rowlock. The total length of the vessel from stem to stern is 14 feet, and the whole is carved out of one piece. The surface of the oak having been exposed to the sun for some time, was cracked and peeled so that it was impossible to discover any marks of the tool by which the interior had been excavated, and it is to be feared that further damage may be caused by exposure. Canoes of this form have been occasionally found elsewhere, and Sir William Wilde mentions the form with the rounded bow and square stern as one of three varieties that are frequently found in Ireland. The ridge curved out of the solid, appears to be common to all the forms, and was, no doubt, intended to give strength.

    The original position of the canoe is not difficult to determine. The river between the bridge and the palace makes a re-entering bend on the south side just below the spot where the Mole runs in. Large quantities of the delta ground at the point were washed away last winter by an unusually strong flood, and there can be little doubt that the canoe which had originally grounded and become covered at the point, had then been washed down with the earth for a distance of about 100 yards into the place in which it was discovered. Walford also informs me that when the water is low, two rows of piles may be seen in the bottom, crossing the river, one at the point and the other at the spot near which the canoe was found. Many flint and stone celts, he tells me, have in his time also been found at this spot, showing that, in all proba- bility, this place was much frequented during the stone age, or, at any rate, the age in which stone implements continued in use,* and proving, as in so many other instances of prehistoric discove- ries in the Thames, that the river has changed its course but little, if at all, since that remote period. The bearing of this upon the question of the erosion of valleys by their rivers is important, and any evidence which tends to throw light on the length of time that rivers have flowed in the same channlels, is worthy of record on this account, apart from the archaeological interest that may attach to the objects discovered.

    A. LANE Fox. * My informant described these implements in such a manner as to leave na

    doubt of their being Celts, and stated that they were, to the best of his belief, found only in this spot.-A. L. F.

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    Article Contentsp. 102p. 103

    Issue Table of ContentsThe Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, Vol. 7 (1878), pp. i-iv+1-116Volume Information [pp. ]Front Matter [pp. ][Miscellaneous Business of the Meeting on February 13th, 1877] [pp. 1-2]Primitive Agriculture [pp. 2-20][Miscellaneous Business of the Meeting on February 27th, 1877] [pp. 20-21]On Non-Sepulchral Rude Stone Monuments [pp. 21-43][Miscellaneous Business of the Meeting on March 13th, 1877] [pp. 43-44]Himalayan Origin and Connection of the Magyar and Ugrian [pp. 44-65]The Scottish Highland Language and People [pp. 65-81][Miscellaneous Business of the Meeting on March 27th, 1877] [pp. 82]On a "Kitchen Midden" at Ventnor [pp. 83-84]On a "Kitchen Midden" Found in a Cave near Tenby, Pembrokeshire, and Explored by Wilmot Power, M.R.C.S.E. [pp. 84-89]On the Brainweights of Some Chinese and Pelew Islanders [pp. 89-94]On Righthandedness [pp. 94-96]Memoir on the Mental Progress of Animals During the Human Period [pp. 96-99]Anthropological Miscellanea[Col. Dalton's "Ethnology of Bengal"] [pp. 100-102]Discovery of a Dug-Out Canoe in the Thames at Hampton Court [pp. 102-103]The Ancient Burial Ground at Kintbury [pp. 104-105]The Andaman Islands [pp. 105-109]Recent Anthropology [pp. 109-115]


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