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Thursday, 7 November, 2002, 06:52 GMT
Medieval ship's hull is removed
Medieval ship discovered in Newport
The ship has been dismantled timber by timber
Archaeologists are due to begin removing the final remains of an historic trading ship found in south Wales.

A team of experts will lift the keel of the 15th Century vessel as part of a 3.5m restoration project, following the discovery at the site of a new arts centre in Newport.

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

The project team had been able to excavate 98% of the vessel, which is thought to be a century older than Henry VIII's legendary flagship, the Mary Rose.

The ship's discovery has created enormous interest in the city and beyond, with universities as far afield as the United States declaring the vessel as hugely significant to historians.

On Thursday, the keel section will be taken out in pieces and the timbers placed in storage until the mammoth task of reconstructing the ship begins.

The project team from Gwent and Glamorgan Archaeological Trust will then get on with the job of excavating a recently-discovered wooden structure.

It is thought the mystery object might have been a cradle used support the ship on dry land, which could add to the emerging picture of a unique maritime discovery.

sections of ship's hull
The ship's timbers have been well preserved by mud

Once their work is finished, contractors will get on with the job of building the city's new theatre and art centre, which has been delayed since the vessel was discovered during last summer

Previous building work and other disturbance at the riverside location meant the bow and stern of the ship are missing or destroyed and thus not all the timber remains can be successfully recovered.

Newport council curator Ron Ingles said the loss of parts of the vessel had to be accepted as an act of fate.

A 3.5m Welsh Assembly Government grant to preserve the craft was pledged in August after a high-profile campaign mounted by archaeologists.

Affinity

But it has emerged that cash refers only to restoration of the main hull.

Thousands of people flocked to the bank of the Usk during the summer as contractors made way for archaeologists' attempts to lift the boat.

Many have found an affinity with Newport's new discovery at a time when the city is finding its feet as Wales' third metropolis.

Timbers are being stored in water tanks at Corus' nearby Llanwern steelworks - preventing erosion by air - until a decision on their eventual fate is made.

The remains of the ship will be displayed at their planned resting place in Newport's new arts centre, scheduled for a 2004 opening.

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


More from south east Wales
See also:

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