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Monday, 9 September, 2002, 13:23 GMT 14:23 UK
Historic ship pulled from mud
Archaeologist at ship site
Contractors uncovered the ship during work
Excavation work has began on a historically valuable medieval ship discovered buried in a south Wales riverbank.

The 15th century vessel's remains were found in the mud banks of the River Usk at Newport as developers dug foundations for an arts centre and theatre in June.

Thousands of residents at Wales' newest city have observed archaeologists' work on the ship since campaigners' cash-heavy preservation plea paid off.

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

Plenty more are now watching the 65ft, ocean-going ship rise from the deep on a public viewing gallery installed by the local council.

Academics were thrilled with the find, which they said was unique in the UK and more significant than the Tudor warship Mary Rose.

Newport City Council chiefs had insisted they did not have the funds to restore the oak-timbered vessel, threatening the ruins' future.

But campaigners, who mobilised and formed the Save Our Ship organisation, pressed for public investment to safeguard the vessel.

Culture fixture

With Welsh Assembly financial help, the council then agreed to partly foot the 3.5m restoration cost, with a joint grant application to the Heritage Lottery Fund.

It is said to have been made from an oak tree felled between September 1465 and April 1466.

Expected costs
Total: 3,465,000
Welsh Assembly: Up to 3m
Sir Anthony Hopkins: Unknown
Ship raising: 131,000
Site construction: 1.3m
Analysis: 470,000
Timber treatment: 1.5m

Actor Sir Anthony Hopkins has also pledged to chip in cash to help out.

The craft is now slated to be a permanent public fixture at a newly-extended arts centre, building for which had been delayed by the wrangle.

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

The site was closed to public viewers on Sunday, when about 3,500 turned out to see the ship in its found state for the last time.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Wales' Jason Mohammad
"It's been hailed as one of the most important archaeological finds in Wales."

More news from south east Wales
See also:

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