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 Friday, 20 December, 2002, 12:53 GMT
Bones from medieval ship site tested
The skeletal remains found at the site
The remains were found at the site of the ship
Work is due to begin on a set of bones uncovered during the salvage of a medieval ship in Newport.

Tests are expected to reveal more about the person's age, sex and lifestyle and how he or she came to buried at the site.

The skull isn't there which is a shame

Bob Trett Archaeological Trust

It is thought the bones, which were discovered at the home of the new Theatre and Arts Centre in Newport, will eventually be put on display to the public.

The remains, which do not have the hallmarks of a Christian burial, were found during an excavation of the orchestra pit on 11 December.

It is thought the bones, which will now be cleaned and cared for at Newport Museum, are medieval.

Two leg bones, a pelvis, part of the spine and ribcage and parts of the arms bones and some hand and finger bones have been recovered.

The police and coroner were informed.

Bones found at the site of the Newport ship
Tests will be carried out on the bones

Although the bones are thought to be medieval, Bob Trett, chairman of the Glamorgan and Gwent Archaeological Trust, hopes the dating procedure may point to an earlier period.

He said the deep location of the bones and the proximity to other ancient finds might suggest the bones date back to BC.

He said: "The skull isn't there which is a shame.

"It would be interesting to see if we can find out how the person died, if there are any wounds, any disease, what age it was, whether it was healthy and had a lot to eat, what sex - there are all sorts of things to find out."

"The bones were found really deep down and the river changed course quite a lot.

"Given these reasons and from the circumstantial evidence the bones could be old - but we won't know until they are dated," added Mr Trett.

Charles Ferris
Charles Ferris has campaigned to save the ship

Other finds from the area have been documented by experts over the years, said Mr Trett.

A human skull, dating back 4,000 years, was found when workers were extending the Newport Docks in 1910.

In 1961 another human skull, from the time of Christ, was discovered when work was carried out on the orb-steel works.

Graphic novel

Charles Ferris, founder of the Friends of the Ship group, said the finding of the bones adds to the fascinating story of the ship.

He said he is interested in explaining the keel's relatively undamaged state.

Mr Ferris has contacted a team of artists with a view to put together a graphic novel which may explain the ship's use in the context of sea-faring missions of the time.

Mr Ferris is keen to see the bow and stern excavated which is planned for the New Year.

Some 2,000 parts of the ship have been placed in containers to the Corus steelworks at Llanwern, near to Newport.

The ship will be displayed at the new arts centre in 2004 and visitors will be able to view it through a glass floor.


More from south east Wales
See also:

07 Nov 02 | Wales
07 Nov 02 | Wales
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