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Friday, 23 August, 2002, 06:08 GMT 07:08 UK
Medieval ship saved from destruction
The ship's outline is clearly visible
The ship is expected to stay in Newport
Remains of a medieval ship older than the Mary Rose are to be saved from destruction by the Welsh Assembly and local councillors.

Evidence of the oak-timbered ocean-going vessel was unearthed when construction started on an arts centre in Newport, south Wales, in June.

archaeologist at work
Archaelogists can continue work on site

Archaelogical work had been set to stop next week to allow contractors back on site - which would have meant losing the 15th century ship for good.

The estimated cost of excavating and preserving the ship is 3.5m, and the assembly has given an assurance that it will meet the cost.

It will make a joint approach with the local authority to the Heritage Lottery Fund to help the project.

The scheme to preserve the ship involves keeping the ship on site and incorporating it into the new Newport Arts Centre.

Tourism boost

The ship has been judged to be of such national importance that the assembly and Newport City Council agreed its future should be safeguarded.

Keeping the craft in the city is expected to bring a huge boost for tourism.

Already, thousands of people have flocked to see it during two public viewing sessions organised by the council.

A campaign group called Save our Ship was set up by locals, who mounted a round-the-clock vigil outside the site to put pressure on the authorities to come up with a rescue package.

sections of ship's hull
Timbers could be stored in a freshwater lake

Thanks to the deal struck by politicians, archaelogists have been allowed to continue excavation work on the ship where it lies.

Contractors working on the new theatre and arts centre will receive compensation for the delay.

On Wednesday, protesters sailed a flotilla of small craft past the site as part of an evening of events to highlight their campaign.

It had been suggested that the council was trying to find a freshwater lake where the ship's timbers could be placed to preserve them until a full reconstruction could be carried out.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Wales' Hefina Rendle
"Campaigners have mounted a round the clock vigil"
The BBC's Wyre Davies
"The ships frame has been almost perfectly preserved"
See also:

15 Aug 02 | Wales
14 Aug 02 | Wales
09 Aug 02 | Wales
22 Oct 01 | England
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