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Friday, 9 August, 2002, 13:38 GMT 14:38 UK
Fight to save medieval ship
Hull of 15th century ship, Newport
The hull remains largely intact, pierced by concrete piles
The remains of a medieval ship discovered during building work could prove to be more important than the Tudor warship the Mary Rose, according to a senior archaeologist.

The 15th century ship was uncovered during excavation work to build an arts centre in Newport.

But there are concerns that the historical value of the ship could be lost, as time runs out to discover its secrets.

sections of ship's hull
The oak hull has survived six centuries
Charles Barker, the director of the Mary Rose Trust, said that to allow the boat to be broken up would be a disaster and he has called for a complete survey of the site.

But Newport council says it cannot delay building the arts centre beyond the middle of August.

Councillor Glyn Jarvis, a member of the culture and recreation committee, said: "We have given it a great deal of time already.

"Originally the excavation was given three weeks and that was extended for another three weeks."

Some 500,000 had been paid out to cover the costs of the delays by the council and the Welsh Assembly, Mr Jarvis added.


The loss of such a unique archaeological treasure would be tragic

Dr Ray Howell, archaeologist

A campaign group called Save Our Ship, run by businessman Charles Ferris and resident Glenys Silverson, has started up to protect the ship and will be holding a public meeting at the Dolman Theatre in the city on 14 August.

Supporters believe the ship should be raised and preserved to become a tourist attraction for Newport or a maritime museum.

The wreck is currently being excavated by the Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust.

Artefacts discovered from the ship include Spanish pottery and Portuguese coins, highlighting Newport's one-time importance as an international trading port. It is possible coal and gold from Wales could have been transported on such ships.

Hull of 15th century ship, Newport
The excavation has drawn crowds of onlookers
Mr Barker said more time is needed to salvage further vital historical information about life in Newport in the 15th century.

"This is unique in Britain, there is nothing else like it. This is a treasure trove of information and we only have a few weeks to examine it.

"It is probably more important than the Mary Rose in some respects.

"I would like to know more about the ship, the people who worked on it and the technology used. This is a wonderful opportunity and in a few weeks time, it will be lost."

Mary Rose, black and white pic
The Mary Rose was a major discovery
Dr Ray Howell, senior lecturer in medieval archaeology, University of Wales Newport, said the archaeological world should be alerted to the ship's discovery.

"The loss of such a unique archaeological treasure would be tragic. The discovery is of international importance," said Dr Howell.

Wood used in the ship is variously dated between 1420-69, which Mr Barker said is a fascinating period in history.

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 ON THIS STORY
Charles Barker, marine archaeologist
"This is an opportunity to explore Newport in the 15th century"
See also:

22 Oct 01 | England
19 Aug 98 | Royal Yacht Britannia
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