The Ballakaighen Log Boat

This is a dugout canoe carved from oak about 3000 years ago and measuring about 4.5 m in length. Remarkably well-preserved, it was excavated in the late 19th century from a farmer’s field in the West of the island. The boat was recorded and published at the time by P.M.C. Kermode but was allowed to dry naturally which resulted in gross damage and distortion. More recently the boat had been on display in the Bronze Age exhibition at the Manx Museum in 2010. It had suffered a fracture at one end and was badly in need of new support. With the help of local A Level student Sebastian Aycock, our conservator Christopher Weeks made a digital 3D model of the underside of the boat using detailed photographs. Using the 3D modelling programme SketchUp, a new support was designed that closely fit the contours of the virtual boat. With the help of computer controlled machining the new support was created in the real world. The boat is now properly supported for the first time.

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