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stepping stones of maritime history


During excavations of the medieval harbour on the river Linge in Tol-Zuid near Tiel in the Netherlands in 1996, wooden parts belonging to ships were found. They were deemed to belong to shipwrecks, one of which received the name Tiel 2. Among the others were Tiel 3 and the Tiel ship fragment of a longboat.

These pieces of wood had been reused as a revetment that was built around 1015 AD. The parts include fragments of the bottom of a ship and a part of a board. The fragments seem to originate from a barge whose timber was felled after around 980 AD.

These parts had been reused in a quay bank that was dated to 985. Thus, the Tiel 2 ship only seems to have been in use for a maximum of five years.

NAVISone/Creative Commons

One of the uncovered revetments.


type: barge.

These types of river barges were especially built for navigating the rivers and intended to transport heavy goods. They had a roughly rectangular floor plan and were ideally suited for sailing and maneuvering on shallow, slow-flowing rivers. The flat bottom consisted of carvel laid planks which merge into special, often L-shaped, bilge strakes. Cattle, goods and carts could be transported with the boats.

The ship was not longer than 20 meters.


The boards and trussings are made of oak. The planks are at least 8 meters long. Treenails connections were used for assembly. A hole was drilled with an auger (a medieval spoon drill) through the boards and frames of the ship in which a round wooden pin was struck, fastening the two elements together. The ship had a flat bottom and a raised board of a height of possibly 1 meter. The draft was very small because of the large surface of the bottom.


The ship of the oldest revetment was made watertight by putting moss in the seams between the boards. This moss was sealed with moss slats. These slats were made from long twigs cut along the length. In this wreck they were held in place with small wooden wedges, 2 cm long.

10th and 11th century quays made from ship parts have also been excavated in Deventer and Utrecht in the Netherlands. The two Tiel ship fragments show similarities with the Utrecht boats (see Utrecht 1) as well as with the Deventer ship parts.


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