Blog Post

Mysteries of the Oldest Boatyard Uncovered

I’ve always been fascinated by how archaeological discoveries can unravel threads of history. Still, they can also become entangled in webs of misinterpretation and incorrect dating, leading to significant findings being dismissed or misunderstood. A case in point occurred in a Welsh housing estate where ancient slipways were initially mistaken for longhouses. This confusion sparked a question: why would such elaborate structures be necessary for something as simple as a lightweight dugout canoe? (Mysteries of the Oldest Boatyard Uncovered)

Mysteries of the Oldest Boatyard Uncovered
Mysteries of the Oldest Boatyard Uncovered 7

This kind of oversight distorts our understanding and suggests that the site might harbour deeper, unexplored layers of history, possibly concealing more about our past than we currently understand. These errors serve as stark reminders of the necessity to maintain a critical perspective in archaeology. It underscores the importance of constantly questioning and reevaluating our findings with new information and methodologies. History isn’t just about discovering artifacts; it’s equally about interpreting them correctly and openly, and crucially, acknowledging when our initial theories might need revision. This constant potential for new discoveries should keep us all intrigued and engaged in the field of archaeology.

Mysteries of the Oldest Boatyard Uncovered
Three Channels of a Catamaran

A prime example is the site dubbed ‘The Oldest Boat Yard in the World’ in Wales. Archaeologists believed they had uncovered a boatyard dating back nearly 4,000 years, considered the world’s first prehistoric boat-building site. The discovery halted construction for six months as archaeologists unearthed what appeared to be channels shaped like the bottom of wooden canoes, interpreted as evidence that boats were built on the site. This interpretation, however, soon came under scrutiny.(Mysteries of the Oldest Boatyard Uncovered)

Mysteries of the Oldest Boatyard Uncovered
How the Catamarn would look

The dating of this boatyard presents a paradox. The original report suggested it was adjacent to an ‘ice glacier lake’—a theory based on the contours of local OS maps. Unfortunately, this scenario is flawed, as neither LiDAR maps, which show the landscape in more detailed relief, nor BGS maps, which display the area’s superficial gravel, supported this. These professional mapping resources confirm that it was not a lake but a river that the slipway linked into. If the BGS map was observed then the fact it had alluvium as a superfical soil whould prove that it was river not a lake as suggested.

This suggests (considering the rivers of the past were more extensive than today’s) that the slipway was much older than the original carbon dates suggested, likely dating back to the Mesolithic period around 8,000 BCE when the bluestones were transported to Stonehenge Phase 1. This makes more sense of the craft’s design, further illustrating that the ‘Oldest Boat Yard’ was making not just boats but catamarans, a significant engineering feat not recognised in the Western world until the 16th century. Yet, here it was, millennia before and miles from where similar technology was known to exist. (Mysteries of the Oldest Boatyard Uncovered)

Mysteries of the Oldest Boatyard Uncovered
Wood found in the ‘lake’ was from a crannog

These historical inaccuracies and the rush to conclusions that can bury the truth under layers of misinterpretation underline the necessity for a more thorough, unbiased research approach. It’s about accurately preserving and understanding our history, not just unearthing it. This scenario emphasises the ongoing struggle within archaeology to balance development, conservation, and the accurate interpretation of our past.

It shows that our true history might be lying underneath, waiting to be correctly interpreted and understood. We must approach archaeological findings with open-minded curiosity and rigour, ensuring that our interpretations do justice to the actual significance of these discoveries. Archaeologists and academics are often fixated on creating a narrative of linear progression, attempting to date artefacts by technology. This system fails, as shown by the ‘Oldest Boat Yard in the World,’ having a slipway for a catamaran which, according to this linear theory, should not have existed for another 6,000 years. This highlights that our understanding of history should be reconsidered and that evolution runs less in linear paths but more as a sine wave with peaks and troughs of invention and civilisation. This emphasis on questioning established narratives should empower and encourage us to challenge the status quo in our understanding of history. (Mysteries of the Oldest Boatyard Uncovered)

Mysteries of the Oldest Boatyard Uncovered
The site is on the edge of a large Mesolithic Waterway

An analogy can be drawn with other inventions, such as housing throughout history. According to academics, we first lived in caves, a claim that is quite impossible given the insufficient number of known cave dwellings compared to the estimated population in Stone Age Britain. Then, we supposedly all lived in round mud huts, like some African tribal dwellings. This, too, is highly questionable, as insufficient huts have been found, and evidence suggests these might have been animal pens since only a tiny number have hearths. These may also be misidentifications of other features, such as crannogs, which would have the same footprint but are made for a wet, flooded environment. Additionally, excavations at Star Carr, dated 12,000 years ago, show that woodworking skills to plank wood and use mortice and tenon joints (as seen at Stonehenge) were available. This begs the question of whether skilled workmen would live in mud huts with soiled flooring rather than using their skills to create wooden houses for greater comfort and lifestyle. This suggests a need to reevaluate how we interpret such findings, as our ancestors might have been more technologically advanced and lived differently than traditionally portrayed.

This critique calls for a rethinking of specific archaeological missteps and urges a broader reconsideration of how we understand the progression of human technology and society across history. The truth of our past is a complex tapestry that deserves our most diligent and unbiased efforts to be fully understood. As I delve deeper into these historical mysteries, I am continually reminded of the importance of viewing our discoveries through a lens of scepticism and a willingness to challenge established narratives, fostering a more accurate and comprehensive understanding of our shared heritage. This comprehensive understanding should make us all feel more connected and responsible for preserving and interpreting our history accurately. (Mysteries of the Oldest Boatyard Uncovered)

Further Reading

For information about British Prehistory, visit for the most extensive archaeology blogs and investigations collection, including modern LiDAR reports.  This site also includes extracts and articles from the Robert John Langdon Trilogy about Britain in the Prehistoric period, including titles such as The Stonehenge Enigma, Dawn of the Lost Civilisation and the ultimate proof of Post Glacial Flooding and the landscape we see today.

Robert John Langdon has also created a YouTube web channel with over 100 investigations and video documentaries to support his classic trilogy (Prehistoric Britain). He has also released a collection of strange coincidences that he calls ‘13 Things that Don’t Make Sense in History’ and his recent discovery of a lost Stone Avenue at Avebury in Wiltshire called ‘Silbury Avenue – the Lost Stone Avenue’.

Langdon has also produced a series of ‘shorts’, which are extracts from his main body of books:

The Ancient Mariners

Stonehenge Built 8300 BCE

Old Sarum

Prehistoric Rivers

Dykes ditches and Earthworks

Echoes of Atlantis

Homo Superior

Mysteries of the Oldest Boatyard Uncovered