'Bronze Age' boat in maiden voyage

History has been made when the first ever recreation of a Bronze Age boat was sent on her maiden voyage in Cornwall.

The harbour town of Falmouth was the setting for the majestic vessel's first foray onto water, the culmination of a year's painstaking construction using tools authentic to 2,000BC.

A crowd of onlookers cheered as the five-tonne boat - measuring 50ft (15m) in length and named Morgawr, meaning "sea monster" in Cornish - was guided into the still Cornish waters.

The prehistoric vessel has been reconstructed as part of a collaborative project with the University of Exeter and the National Maritime Museum Cornwall in Falmouth.

A team of volunteers, led by shipwright Brian Cumby, had spent the last year building this one-of-a-kind craft out of two massive oak logs using replica methods and tools, such as bronze-headed axes.

Andy Wyke, museum boat collection manager, said: "It has been incredible to see this whole project take shape in the museum building over the past 11 months. Volunteers have poured everything into transforming three oak trees to what we have seen and achieved today.

"It's been an incredible journey and one that will be remembered not only in our and Falmouth's history. All the discoveries made have proven maritime history. Academic theory has come to life. We're all so proud."

The build was led by university professor Robert Van De Noort, who joined the crew paddling on board the vessel. "I'm so happy with the responsiveness of the boat. We always said you had to build the whole boat to understand what Bronze Age people experienced," he said. "When I was steering the boat and it got up to speed, I could turn her easily and it was more seaworthy than I expected. We have learnt so much through the whole process and today's launch has revolutionised everything we knew."

Morgawr will undergo further sea trials over the coming weeks, to assess how she takes on water, with a view to keeping her at the museum for the indefinite future.

Dr Linda Hurcombe, University of Exeter archaeologist, said: "To sit inside something that has not been seen in British waters for 4,000 years and paddle it, and to see the carving of the wood, the tallow and the yew stitching all working together is a sight to behold."