MHG2604 - Logboat, Loch Laggan


No summary available.

Type and Period (1)

  • WRECK (Early Medieval - 561 AD to 1057 AD)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

NN58NW 6 c. 535 895

For other logboats from the loch, see NN48NE 1, NN48SE 1-2 and NN58NW 3-4.

In 1934 Loch Laggan was lowered some 16' and as a result a dug-out canoe 'in almost perfect preservation when it was first uncovered' was found. It was 37' long and "showed signs of a figure head and the socket at the stern where the steering oar rested. Even a patch that had been applied by its prehistoric owners was plain until it began to moulder in the open air. It is the second largest of the hundred or so canoes found in Scotland and is among the most perfect examples.
In the canoe was found a wooden bowl, now in the National Museum of Antiquities, (HX 276, 1-7). It was incomplete when found and warped badly and split into seven pieces on drying. It is made from one piece of wood, with a narrow everted rim and a pierced vertical handle at one end (there may have been one at the other). It is most probably of birch. (Although photos of the canoe exist the canoe itself has apparently disintergrated as a search for it was unsuccessful. However, from the evidence of the photo is stood on the N side of the loch, possible somewhere near its W end)
S Maxwell 1953.

No information.
Visited by OS (R D) 14 October 1965.

Turned (?) Betula bowl with one looped handle.Attributed to late 1st millennium BC/early 1st millennium AD. NMS HX 276: 1-7.
C Earwood 1993.

(Formerly recorded as NN48SE 2). Seven logboats and the remains of a framed boat of unknown date (NN48NE 4) have been discovered during periods of low water level on the shores of Loch Laggan, an extensive highland loch which occupies a deep glaciated valley in the catchment area of the River Spean at an altitude of about 280m OD and is used for the generation of hydro-electric power. The various accounts of the five earlier discoveries were collated in 1951 but those made subsequently have received only brief publication.
2. It was also in 1934 that a second 'fir' logboat was found at the extreme E end of the loch, near the mouth of the River Pattack; an incomplete wooden bowl (no. A47) was found in it. On the basis of the detailed contemporary record that has survived, this boat is probably the example that Maxwell illustrates; this photograph was probably taken at the time of initial discovery as it is attributed to JM Corrie who died in 1938. The OS are apparently in error in suggesting a location on the N shore of the loch and probably near the W end.
In 1949 the boat was rediscovered and found to measure 37'7" (11.6m) in length.
It is said to have been initially found in peaty silt at a point about 60' (18.3m) from the old shoreline and where the water would have been about 5' (1.5m) deep; the timber was generally about 2" (51mm) thick and the boat appeared 'remarkably well preserved'. No evidence of metal fittings or the use of metal tools was noted.
Several unusual features of this boat make its apparent loss a matter for regret. At the bow there was a feature which has been described as a 'figure head' but appears from the photographs to have been a fortuitous projection sited away from the centreline of the boat.
Along the bottom of the mid-section (and to port of the centreline) there are two longitudinal battens which were secured by substantial lashings or (less probably) cleats. These were probably inserted to plug a rapidly-developing split and may be identified with the 'patch...applied by its prehistoric owners' that is noted in the published account. The repair was described at the time of its initial discovery as 'a plank some four inches (102mm) wide and perhaps one inch (25mm) thick held firmly in position by rough cross pieces that fitted so snugly over and around it into holes bored into the floor that they might have come from some very pliable material such as tree root'. This is probably to be interpreted as an attempt to close the split by pulling the sides together, oversewing a batten which served to retain the caulking material.
At the stern there was a probable transom pierced by what was identified as a 'socket' for a steering-oar but was more probably a knot-hole, as the insertion of an oar of any length would have been inconvenient and such an orifice would be a source of severe leakage unless protected by flexible sleeving. Finally, lying 'at about the same position' as the repair there was a 'roughly fashioned piece of wood that looks like a sapling' and was possibly a punt-pole.
On the evidence of the available photographs, the McGrail morphology code of the boat was 4x2:112:322. The boat was of narrow and dissimilar-ended form, but this cannot be quantified.
(Mowat no. A47). The bowl that was found in the Loch Laggan 2 logboat has become severely warped and split on drying into seven pieces which are held in the Royal Museum of Scotland under accession numbers NMS HX 276:1-7 respectively. It has a narrow everted rim and has been tentatively reconstructed (by Henshall) as relatively shallow, round-bottomed and circular in form, measuring about 5?" (14mm) in diameter. She noted a pierced vertical handle on one side and supposed there to have been a second opposite. Earwood sees the object as comparable to one (NMS ME 65) of those from Ardgour (NM96SE 6), suggests that it has been turned from one piece of birch and attributes it to the early or mid first millennium AD.

Maxwell 1951; DES, (1955), 17; S McGrail 1978; S McGrail 1987; R J C Mowat 1996.

Sources/Archives (6)



Grid reference Centred NN 5349 8949 (20m by 20m) (Buffered by site type)
Map sheet NN58NW
Civil Parish LAGGAN

Finds (1)

  • BOWL (Undated)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Investigations/Events (0)

External Links (0)

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