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 Thursday, 12 December, 2002, 15:16 GMT
Bones unearthed at medieval ship site
The medieval ship was discovered in Newport
Two leg bones were found at the site of the ship
Workers excavating the banks of a river where the remains of a medieval ship were found have discovered two ancient leg bones at the site.

The right and left femur bones were found by archaeologists unearthing the ship which has lain embedded in the banks of the River Usk in Newport since the 15th Century.

It's possible that these bones are the result of some kind of accident

Adam Yates, Archaeological Trust

Experts working on the excavation of the timber vessel believe the bones may be the result of an ancient industrial accident.

The skeletal remains, thought to belong to a grown man, were found underneath the area where the ship was hidden.

Adam Yates of the Glamorgan and Gwent Archaeological Trust said he thought the bones may have belonged to someone who was salvaging the boat.

He thinks that the man was killed when the ship's starboard side collapsed.

"We know that the ship was being salvaged so it's possible that these bones are the result of some kind of accident," he said.

"It's not something we were thinking we'd find down there."

Workers excavating the ship
Workers raising the keel of the ship

Carbon dating will be carried out to determine the age of the bones and officially confirm the sex of the victim.

Further sections of the body are expected to be removed later this week.

A spokeswoman for Newport City Council said: "The coroner was called and has given permission for work on-site to continue.

"The bones will be removed and a specialist osteo-archaeologist will carry out further research as part of the post excavation work that is taking place on the ship.

"The find is expected to lead to additional construction delays," she added.

Charles Ferris
Charles Ferris has campaigned to save the ship

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

Charles Ferris, who is founder of the Friends of the Ship group which mounted a campaign to preserve the vessel said: "Anything that adds to the romance and story of the ship is good news.

He added that the campaign to ensure that a section of the bow and stern is excavated would continue.

"Without these we won't know what she looked like or what speed she went at," he said.

As parts of the ship were extracted from the banks, they were transported to be stored in water tanks nearby.

Bow and stern

More than 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 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.

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
07 Nov 02 | Wales
03 Oct 02 | Wales
02 Sep 02 | Wales
23 Aug 02 | Wales
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