Bone Ship Model

1 of  the 100 objects featured in “The History of Cornwall in 100 Objects

On display on the ground floor, in Room 1, the Launceston Room, in Case Nº 6

This bone model of a ship was made by a French prisoner of war during the late 18th or early 19th century.  During the Napoleonic wars there were many French prisoners of war in Launceston, many of them “on parole”, meaning they had given their word (“parole”) not to try to escape and who therefore enjoyed a measure of freedom. Many were skilled craftsmen.  Time may have have hung heavy on their hands but , with the bones from their weekly meat ration, they had a free material for craft work, the results of which were often sold to the public.  Nearby in the museum are 3 large cattle vertebrae decorated to resemble an angel and 2 priests.

Napoleonic French prisoner of war bone boat