Gormanston Landfall, Co. Meath: Prehistoric Logboat
ADCO was appointed to monitor the dredging activity associated
with the landfall for the GAS 2025 Irish Sea Interconnector pipeline
as it approached the east coast at Gormanston, Co. Meath.
It was necessary to cut a pipe trench 40metres wide and up to
5metres deep below existing seabed level, over a distance of
4km from sea to shore. Preparatory assessment did not indicate
any archaeological material along the proposed pipeline route,
but the records of more than 40 boat- and shipwreck sites in
the vicinity dating from the 1600s suggested that this was an
area of high potential.
A programme of 24-hour monitoring was carried out during the
works project over two months at the request of the state authority,
to record the type of seabed material that was being excavated.
The dredging was undertaken by the Irish Dredging Company Ltd.
using two separate platforms: a working barge, the Manu Pekka,
was used for inshore work, while a trailer suction hopper dredger, Medway II,
completed the dredging out to sea.
ADCO personnel maintained a record of position and dredging
area, and observed the actual dredging, noting dredge depth,
progress of dredging, and any items of interest.
At 20:30 hrs on 02 June, seven timbers were retrieved by the
backhoe dredger. The timbers were all retrieved from the same
location. It was apparent that further remains lay within the
seabed. The discovery had occurred while dredging was removing
the upper two metres of seabed. A ridge of undredged material
remained across the c. 50m-wide trench in this location. A dive
operation was undertaken to inspect the location
The wrecksite was loccated at 53° 38.917’N 06° 12.41086’W,
or NGC 318622E 268012N. It was evident that a large piece of
wreckage remained on the seabed. A second dive operation was
carried out to clear the 2m of overburden at the undredged portion,
and to remove the timbers from the seabed. It was estimated that
this work would take nine days to complete. In the event, the
work was completed ahead of schedule on 22 June, after six days
of site work.
The excavation opened a cutting c. 6m x 5m over the buried portion,
and removed the sand with suction dredges. The wreckage was identified,
planned, recorded, and lifted from the seabed, and dredging proceeded
without interruption to the overall schedule.
The archaeological data recovered represents an important discovery.
It constitutes a logboat, or dug-out canoe, that measured 7m
in length and is the first such discovery in Ireland from an
active marine environment. This boat represents the clear evidence
for the first time that early man plied the coastal waters in
such fragile craft, which presumably were used to ferry people
and supplies along the coast.
The boat is currently being conserved at the Mary Rose Trust
in England, and a date is expected from a sample taken for Carbon
ADCO wishes to acknowledge the assistance of Irish Dredging Ltd,
Allseas, Bord Gais Eireann, and JP Kenny Ltd consulting engineers
for this scheme
Management and Research