HISTORIANS are probing links between an ancient dugout canoe discovered on the banks of the Boyne and the landmark Newgrange site.
The canoe, which has an unusual design and is believed to be unique in Ireland, was yesterday removed from the river by experts from the National Museum.
It was discovered two weeks ago by two local fishermen, Ivan Murphy and Kevin Tuite, who immediately contacted the authorities.
"We spotted it in the water and I turned it over and we discovered it was a canoe. It was incredible to see and I immediately covered it again and we contacted the museum," said Mr Murphy.
The discovery was made east of the Boyne Cable Bridge near Drogheda, and it is unclear how it got there.
It was found only a short distance downstream from Newgrange. It is believed canoes were used to transport stone to the site some 5,000 years ago.
"It may have been lying there for years but we are down on the Boyne quite a bit and didn't notice it before so it may have floated down in the tide from further up stream," he added.
The canoe is 3m long and 61cm wide and a very unusual shape, suggesting that it may have been used as a one man vessel or as a transporter.
It will now be brought to a preservation centre in Roscommon and tests will firmly establish its age.
The canoe is unusual in that it has a large hook at one end, possibly for use as a link or for a mooring rope.
The grooves made while cleaning out the wood from the centre of the great oak tree can clearly be seen.
The canoe was discovered on waters controlled by the Drogheda and District Anglers club, under license from the Central Fisheries Board.
For the secretary, John Murphy, it was the "find of a lifetime"for members of the club.
"It just shows what anglers can discover. You could say they are the archaeologists of the riverbank," he said.
Mayor Paul Bell hopes that the vessel will return to Drogheda to be put on display once it has been preserved.