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Monday, 2 September, 2002, 14:33 GMT 15:33 UK
Sir Anthony backs ship campaign
The ship's outline is clearly visible
The ship was found in the banks of the River Usk
The fight to save a medieval ship - older than the Mary Rose - has attracted the attention of Hollywood star, Sir Anthony Hopkins.

During the campaign to save the remains of the ship, discovered in the banks of the River Usk in Newport, the Welsh born actor wrote to a lecturer in archaeology to show his support.

Sir Anthony Hopkins
Sir Anthony Hopkins wrote to help save the ship

In the letter, sent from his Californian home, Sir Anthony stated his interest in the maritime find.

"Dating back to 1465, it is clearly a unique piece of medieval history and holds both international and local significance," he wrote.

"For this reason, I lend my support to this vital preservation endeavour."

The letter was addressed to Dr Ray Howell, who lectures in history and medieval archaeology at the University of Wales College, Newport.

"It is particularly gratifying that Sir Anthony should take an active interest in this important discovery," said Dr Howell.

Mary Rose, black and white picture
Historians believe it may be more important than the Mary Rose

"Preservation of the Newport ship will provide a marvellous resource for the city and the rest of south Wales," he said.

In August, the Welsh Assembly promised 3.5m or the 15th Century ship to be lifted from its current resting place and preserved as an historic tourist attraction.

The announcement followed weeks of campaigning by local people to save the ancient vessel after Newport City initially said it did not have the money to undertake the project.

Activists had demanded the ship be reconstructed and put on display.

"The late medieval vessel is a unique and highly significant discovery which will greatly enhance our understanding of the historical and archaeological development of south east Wales," said Dr Howells.

Glass floor viewings

The timbers from the 65ft unnamed ocean-going vessel were found during the construction of a theatre and arts centre in June and were unveiled last month.

The site was due to be filled in for building work to continue following a six week excavation by archaeologists.

The ship has been tree-ring dated and experts say it was made from an oak tree felled between September 1465 and April 1466.

Plans are being drawn up for a 280 sq metre basement will now be built under the ground floor gallery and main foyer of the new arts centre.

Visitors will be able to see it through a glass floor, and there will also be a viewing gallery on the lower level.

Considerable work needed to be done on the detail of the project, and final decisions on the display of the ship within the theatre would only be reached only after an archaeological evaluation had taken place.


More news from south east Wales
See also:

23 Aug 02 | Wales
23 May 02 | Wales
15 Aug 02 | Wales
14 Aug 02 | Wales
09 Aug 02 | Wales
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