Robert A. Church
DEPLETION OF THE SYLVAN SEA: SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY ENGLISH SHIPBUILDING.
(Under the direction of Dr. Timothy Runyan) Department of History, East Carolina University, April 2001 .
During the seventeenth and eighteenth century, English shipwrights repeatedly complained of a shortage of shipbuilding timber. This thesis examines the historical and archaeological evidence to determine when an actual timber problem materialized in England. The use of compass timber in ship construction is of particular interest. During the sixteenth century, shipbuilders used large compass timbers to form parts of the ships’ hull such as the frames. By the eighteenth century, very little large compass timber was used. A distinct change had taken place in the framing patterns of ships from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century. The alterations in framing patterns are offered as evidence of a timber shortage. In addition, the Royal Navy relied heavily on timber supplies from the royal forest. Therefore, oak timber in the royal forest is examined for evidence of a timber shortage. An analysis of timber in the royal forest and shipbuilding methods will illustrate that England began experiencing a timber problem during the seventeenth century.