master carpenter and his craftsmen left many scribe marks etched into the wood
to indicate spots where a timber needed shaping or modification. One such mark,
called a surmark, pinpointed a critical location on timbers affecting the
ship's overall design. This information eventually led us to the discovery of
an unusual element in the ship's design, evidence of an otherwise
archeologically undocumented early technique that alters the inward curve of
The Belle's shipwrights
undoubtedly used the scribe marks seen on this piece of the interior hull
planking (ceiling) to help build the ship, though we're not yet sure
A surmark cuts across the grain of a key timber.
Photos: courtesy of the Texas Historical Commission.