ships

Model Ships

Figure 31: A model of the Leamington Scow which illustrates the potential for vessel reconstruction using direct archaeological data without the luxury of the builders plan, ©Headland Archaeology.

Figure 31: A model of the Leamington Scow which illustrates the potential for vessel reconstruction using direct archaeological data without the luxury of the builders plan, ©Headland Archaeology.

Model ships and boats were made for a variety of reasons (Roach 2007; 2008), including for commemorative, leisure, decorative, religious, and training purposes, as well as aids for construction. They can therefore shed light on a range of aspects of past maritime and marine culture and represent a considerable, though currently inadequately catalogued resource.

Future areas of research would include the social aspects of model sailing (particularly in fishing communities such as at East Fife and Peterhead, the Peerie Sea, Kirkwall, or in Glasgow parks) as well as the interpretive potential in comparing models with extant and wrecked ships.

The research potential of the National Historic Fleet

The educational and research opportunities presented by the collection of surviving historic ships and boats are numerous yet the potential of this fragile and diminishing resource is not thus far fully appreciated. The range of possibilities is illustrated by the examples below, some of them based on existing projects, others provided as pointers to future work:

  • • a test-bed for studies of ship-building techniques, in both vernacular (e.g. boats of the North Isles) and major industrial forms (e.g. shipwrights’ race-marks on the frigate Unicorn);
  • • studies of technological evolution including the impact of new technologies on traditional designs (e.g. the introduction of steel ropes and steam capstans in Scottish sailing fishing-vessels such as the fifie Reaper);
  • • field experiments eg sailing studies of Scottish luggers; the design and operation of fishing gear such as drift-nets; craft-based studies of sail-making, rope-making, net-making (including machine-made nets - a special Scottish invention from the early 19th century); navigation and pilotage;
  • • science-based conservation studies, incorporating new recording techniques such as the use of laser-scan survey methods for intact ships and boats of all sizes (in fact, extending decent recording across the NHF would be a valuable research exercise in connection with this diminishing resource) and improved methods for dealing with chlorides in wood and metals;
  • • Ethnological research into ship-board life and working practices
Figure 29: The City of Adelaide is a prime example of a Scottish maritime artefact that can be used to explore many research questions that permeate across the global maritime research community ©RCAHMS

Figure 29: The City of Adelaide is a prime example of a Scottish maritime artefact that can be used to explore many research questions that permeate across the global maritime research community ©RCAHMS