The Roos Carr Figures were discovered in 1836 by labourers cleaning a ditch at Roos Carr, near Withernsea in East Yorkshire. The discovery consisted of a collection of well-preserved wooden objects including several ‘warrior’ figures with stone eyes, a wooden box, a serpent-headed boat, and various other wooden articles ‘too much decayed to remove’.

The boat and four of the figures were given to the Hull Literary and Philosophical Society and eventually became part of the collections of Hull Museums. In the 19th century four of the figures were fixed into the boat, with the ‘arms’, shields and paddles glued or nailed on wherever they seemed to fit.

In 1902 a fifth figure was acquired by the museum. It seems that one of the original finders of the figures had given the ‘ancient doll’ to his daughter to play with.

Since then, modern conservation modern conservation has taken place. It was realized that the five figures that were found would not have fitted onto the ship. It is therefore believed that there were originally two ships complete with crews, parts of which have not survived.

Radio carbon dating shows the figures to be c. 2,600 years old, which places them in the Late Bronze Age to the Early Iron Age.

Two of the yew-wood figures in a boat
image: David Beard
(click on the images to enlarge)

The figures have quartzite eyes
image: David Beard

The ‘Snake Head’ of the boat
image: David Beard