In 2007, Professor Stephen Harding and a team of archaeologists from the University of Nottingham brought attention to a possible Viking boat buried under the car park at the Railway Inn, Meols.
In 1938, workmen laying the car park first spotted the remains. But with the risk that an archaeological dig would delay building work, the find was kept secret. One of the workers, however, made a few notes, and in 1991 his son produced a report and a sketch. The report was brought to the attention of the current landlord, and so the Nottingham team was brought in, conducting a Ground Penetrating Radar survey of the location.
Viking boat survey
The survey seemed to show a ‘boat-shaped anomaly’ in the underlying clay. Further survey will assess the potential for an evaluation excavation.
The Viking boat find is particularly interesting from a landscape point of view. The pub is over a kilometre from the coast, and even further from the medieval shore. Professor Harding suggests that a flood may have washed the boat inland. Another possibility is that it sunk in one of the many marshes which covered the area at the time.
Old Norse field and track names are all over the area. It wasn’t unknown for the people of the time to drag their ships substantial distances inland if necessary.
Current Archaeology, Issue 213: p4-5.
Norse by North West – Liverpool Echo article on DNA analysis done in Liverpool by Professor Harding
Viking Mersey, by Stephen Harding, is available from Amazon UK (although the rarity of this book nowadays has made the price shoot up!)
Image: notes taken in 1938 by one of the workmen who discovered the boat.