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EDITIONS
Thursday, 7 November, 2002, 17:57 GMT
Gusts delay ship's excavation
Workers cutting the keel
The 23-metre oak keel had to be cut into five pieces
Windy conditions have delayed the removal of some of the final parts of a medieval ship discovered buried in the banks of a south Wales river.

A team of experts had planned to 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.

Charles Ferris
Charles Ferris has campaigned for the ship to be saved

But gusts of wind prevented workers from beginning the removal of the 23-metre oak timber until 1600 GMT on Thursday.

Experts were only able to lift one section before the light faded, but they hope to complete the process on Friday depending on the weather conditions.

The keel, which is the last visible piece of the ship, had to be cut into five sections in order for a crane to raise it.

As the parts are extracted from the banks, they will be transported to be stored in water tanks nearby.

So far 2,000 pieces of the ship have been taken to containers at the Corus steelworks at Llanwern near Newport to prevent erosion by air.

The ship was discovered when builders started hollowing out the orchestra pit of the new theatre and art centre which is under constructed.

Workers examining the keel
The lift was hampered by windy conditions

Charles Ferris, who is founder of the Friends of the Ship group which mounted a campaign to preserve the ship was at the site on Thursday.

"I come up here everyday to see how the progress is getting on and seeing this last section removed is very exciting," he said.

"The ship has such historical importance it was vital that it was saved.

"We have had people from all over the world supporting us.

"The next stages of the excavation will involve removing the stern and bow which will take place next year," he added.

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

The project team has already excavated much of the vessel, which is thought to be a century older than Henry VIII's legendary flagship, the Mary Rose.

The bow and the stern are the only remaining pieces which have yet to be unearthed, but plans are in place for them to be removed in the New Year.

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

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

The remains of the restored 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:

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