Gunwale - Photo © William Murphy, 11 May 2008

The gunwale is the top rail of the boat and pierced with holes for the oars. The English boats have a broken gunwale whereas the Norman ships are shown with an unbroken line. It is thought that the method of rowing was to lay the oars over the top of gunwale and not through the oar-ports, therefore the purpose of the holes seems to be one of a purely decorative nature.

See Also

Medieval Shipping
History of Navigation

Return to Main Index