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1 An early (8th–9th century), unwieldy ship of simple construction with a sail, a rounded bow and stern, and without a keel. The remains of one was found downriver from London Bridge and there is an image of one on a 9th-century Anglo-Saxon coin. By the 14th century it had become as large as a cog, and thereafter the two types may have merged into one which became known as a cog.

2 Another name for the hull of a ship, but this use of the word had fallen into disuse by the end of the 18th century.

3 An old ship converted for some use which did not require it to move. Early hulks were used as floating storehouses, as the temporary abode of naval seamen, recruited by impressment, who were awaiting draft to a seagoing ship, and particularly for quarantine purposes. Some were also fitted out for use in stepping or lifting out masts in seagoing ships. Later, particularly in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, they were used as prisons. ‘It was as a means of devising a severe mode of punishment short of death that the Hulks on the Thames were introduced in 1776’ (Robert Chambers's Book of Days (1864), ii, 67).

Subjects: Maritime History.

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