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EDITIONS
 Tuesday, 14 January, 2003, 13:33 GMT
Medieval ship's bow and stern examined
The ship was discovered in the banks of the River Usk
The ship was dismantled timber by timber
Archaeologists are preparing to examine the bow and stern of a medieval ship found in Newport after several delays in the excavation.

Last June, the 15th Century ship was found in the banks of the River Usk by builders hollowing out the orchestra pit of a new theatre and arts centre for the city.

We are being given the opportunity to examine these areas

Andrew Marvell, Glamorgan - Gwent Archaeological trust

More than 2,000 pieces of the ship have been uncovered, after local people campaigned for it to be preserved.

Technical difficulties in raising the keel and the discovery of human bones at the site meant that the final stages of excavation had to be delayed.

Earlier, there were concerns that two ends of the vessel would not be saved after it emerged at a 3.5m Welsh Assembly Government grant only referred to the restoration of the main hull.

But, officials at Newport Council agreed to allow the Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust to examine the bow and stern areas when building work is made secure.

A spokesperson for the council said: "We don't think there is a lot to find down there but we want to double check."

Andrew Marvell from the trust said: "We are being given the opportunity to examine these areas, but not until work on the orchestra pit has been made safe."

We think that the stern end may well have been damaged by a river wall built in the 17th Century

Andrew Marvell, Glamorgan - Gwent Archaeological trust

However, Mr Marvell does not believe that either end will be found in a complete state.

"We think that the stern end may well have been damaged by a river wall built in the 17th Century," he said.

"We believe that only half a metre or so will have survived.

"We know that two piles have been driven through the bow, and think that there will only be a metre or so left at the most," he said.

It is thought that the final stages of excavation will take place in March.

Campaigners for the preservation of the vessel are met on Tuesday evening to discuss handing in a 4,000 signature petition to Newport Council.

Charles Ferris
Campaigner Charles Ferris has helped collect 4,000 signatures

Names were collected by the pressure group, Save Our Ship, to make sure that everything connected with the ship was excavated from the site.

Charles Ferris, chairman of the campaign said: "We want the bow and stern to be excavated, preserved and put on display.

"It is so important to uncover it all, so that we can find out how the ship was steered, how fast it travelled and to complete the picture of what it looks like," he added.

Excavated pieces of the 65ft ocean-going vessel are being stored in special water tanks at the Corus steelworks at Llanwern until it can be reconstructed and put on public display.


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