Newport's Medieval Ship Is To Be Saved

By David Prudames | 27 August 2002
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Left: the 25-metre ship has been described as a cross between the later merchant 'Cog' boats and a Viking longship. © Council For British Archaeology

Archaeologists and protestors in Newport, South Wales are celebrating after the remains of a medieval ship threatened by the building of an arts centre were saved for the nation.

Newport City Council announced on Friday August 23, how they and the National Assembly for Wales would put into place a £3.5 million scheme to preserve and display the ship.

"The discovery of this rare national treasure on the banks of the River Usk has brought Newport to the forefront of national and international interest," explained Edwina Hart, Minister for Finance at the National Assembly for Wales.

archaeologists have worked tirelessly and it seems the battle is won

Right: archaeologists have worked tirelessly and it seems the battle is won. © Council for British Archaeology

"From the outset the Assembly Government has been keen to take the right action for this vessel, in the light of the very best archaeological advice."

Sir Harry Jones, Leader of the City Council, said: "This is an historic day for Newport."

Plans are underway to house the ship in a basement beneath the ground floor gallery and main foyer of the theatre and arts centre. Visitors will be able to move around the vessel at various levels and a digital re-creation will show how it would once have looked.

scores of visitors queued to see the ship

Left: scores of visitors queued to see the ship. © Council for British Archaeology

The ship, described as one of the UK's most significant maritime finds, dates back to 1465-6 and is believed to be one of the only surviving examples of a merchant vessel from this period.

Gwent Archaeological Trust was given a matter of weeks to explore and record the site before contractors moved back in. However, local residents and history lovers from all over the country flocked to the site to lend support through 24-hour vigils and peaceful demonstrations.

Speaking to 24 Hour Museum last week, Newport businessman Charles Ferris explained: "The entire people of Newport have got involved in all of this. I have never seen a cause so well supported: no matter whether rich or poor, what creed or race we are all behind the ship."

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