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Early Ships and Seafaring: European Water Transport (Paperback)

Ancient History Maritime > Historic Ships P&S History > Archaeology

By Sean McGrail
Imprint: Pen & Sword Archaeology
Pages: 208
Illustrations: 60 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781399019453
Published: 16th November 2022



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'Early Ships and Seafaring: Water Transport Within Europe' builds on Professor Seán McGrail's 2006 volume 'Ancient Boats and Ships' by delving deeper into the construction and use of boats and ships between the stone age and AD1500 in order to provide up to date information. Regions covered will include the Mediterranean and Atlantic Europe.

This interesting volume is easily accessible to those with little t no knowledge of the building and ises of boats, whether ancient or modern. Seán McGrail introduces the reader to this relatively new discipline through the theory and techniques used in the study of early boats as well as the many different types of evidence available to us, including archaeological, documentary, iconographic, experimental and ethnographic, and the natural, physical laws.

"...well worth a read for the thoroughness of its research."

Read the full review here.

Nautilus Telegraph - January-February 2024

Newly available in this paperback edition for students, academia, and anyone with an interest in the subject, "Early Ships and Seafaring: European Water Transport" is an ideal and highly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, and university library Maritime History collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Read the full review here

Midwest Book Review

As featured in

Marine Modelling International, July 2017

As referenced on.

The Maritime History Podcast

Accessible, well written, reasonably priced and commendably short by a former RN deck officer. Excellent introduction to the naval architecture of its period with a solid theoretical and practical base.

T Grove

This book covers the relatively new specialization of water transport in archaeology. It is a delightful and informative book that is illustrated throughout with single colour sketches and photographs. Water transport has been curiously under-covered, even though it was of vital importance to developing civilizations and continues to be important today. This is a book that should be widely read because it recounts the way in which water and water transport has shaped human development. Highly recommended.


Early Ships and Seafaring is a very good book that ought to be widely read...In three sleek chapters, one on concepts and techniques, one on the Mediterranean and one on the Atlantic, McGrail outlines our knowledge base for European seafaring from prehistory to the end of the Middle Ages; he uses many good examples and offers useful cross references to ethnographic and experimental archaeological data.

Medieval Archaeology

Highly interesting.


This is a short but invaluable book that ends with suggestions for future research.

Current Archaeology

Archaeological evidence of boats and ships is unfortunately scare, but McGrail does an excellent job in this book of compiling what knowledge we do have from iconographic, documentary, ethnographic and archaeological sources.

Current World Archaeology

As featured on.

BBC Radio Wiltshire

Highly recommended for those with a curiosity and passion for maritime origins.

Julian Stockwin

About Sean McGrail

PROFESSOR SEÁN MCGRAIL is widely regarded as a leading authority on the subject of boats and ships within archaeology. After serving in the Royal Navy from 1946 to 1968, he graduated with a BA at the University of Bristol in 1971, and in 1978 gained a Ph.D. at University College, London with a thesis on The Longboats of England in Wales. In 1988 he was awarded a D.Sc. by the University of Oxford.
He was Chief Archaeologist at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich from 1974 to 1986, and Professor of Maritime Archaeology in the Institute of Archaeology, Oxford from 1986 to 1993, before becoming Visiting Professor at the University of Southampton. He died in 2021.

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