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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 14 August, 2002, 18:09 GMT 19:09 UK
Campaign mounts to save ship
Hull of 15th century ship, Newport
The hull remains largely intact, pierced by concrete piles
Pressure is mounting to save the remains of a medieval ship discovered in a river bank in Newport.

Council chiefs insist they do not have the millions needed to preserve the vessel.

But campaigners from Save Our Ship believe the authority can do more and they are holding an urgent meeting on Wednesday night.

sections of ship's hull
The oak hull has survived six centuries
Archaeologists believe the 15th Century construction could be of international importance, perhaps even more significant than Henry VIII's legendary Mary Rose.

The ship has already offered up a fascinating glimpse of medieval trading links between Wales and Europe, with finds of Spanish pottery and Portuguese coins.

Excavation work by Gwent Archaeological Trust is due to end soon and the site will be filled in for building work to continue.

Newport council said it does not have the money to reconstruct the ship but said an alternative plan was in place to remove its timbers.

Officials are currently looking for a suitable lake or tank in which to store the timbers while they are investigated by archaeologists.


We have already invested a great deal in recording this event and we want to see it through to the end

Ron Ingles, Newport museums officer

But local businessman Charlie Ferris wants the ship put on display in the city, believing it could become a major attraction for tourists.

"It is like saying what price the Mona Lisa? It is a wonderful opportunity for Newport," he said.

"It is a gift for the town and we should protect our heritage."

He added: "We have had interest in this from Cincinnati and San Francisco - this artefact belongs to the world."

Local historian Terry Underwood added: "Since actually seeing the boat, I could see the enthusiasm of people queuing up to see it. I think we should preserve it."

But former Newport curator Bob Trett said preservation work should be taken one step at a time.

"Stored in the temporary water-filled conditions, it, would give a breathing space to record the timbers and allow people to think in a calmer situation about the future."

Hull of 15th century ship, Newport
The excavation has drawn crowds of onlookers
Newport museums officer Ron Ingles said the accusations of the council not caring about the ship were untrue.

"It is of immense importance to Newport's heritage," he said.

"We have already invested a great deal in recording this event and we want to see it through to the end."

Earlier this week, Charles Barker, the director of the Mary Rose Trust, stepped into the row, saying that to allow the boat to be broken up would be a disaster.

"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."

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

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Charles Barker, marine archaeologist
"This is an opportunity to explore Newport in the 15th century"
Kate Howell, Gwent Archaeological Trust
"This ship is unique and of international importance"
See also:

09 Aug 02 | Wales
22 Oct 01 | England
19 Aug 98 | Royal Yacht Britannia
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