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Last Updated: Sunday, 1 February, 2004, 19:08 GMT
Medieval ship's 'pirate' past
Newport's medieval ship
Experts believe the ship could have been used for piracy
The medieval ship uncovered on the banks of the River Usk in Newport could have been part of a pirate fleet, according to new research.

The BBC's Timewatch programme has revealed the ship, which was discovered in 2002, was probably owned by the Earl of Warwick - one of the most powerful nobles of the 15th century.

Warwick, known as the Kingmaker having deposed two kings during the Wars of the Roses, turned to piracy when short of money to fund his political ambitions.

Welsh historian Bob Trett has found documentary evidence that Warwick ordered the refit of one of his ships in Newport.

Warwick owned land around Newport and the city may have been a base for part of his pirate fleet.

Nigel Nayling
Archaologist Nigel Nayling abelieves the ship was being repaired in Newport

Nigel Nayling, an archaologist from the University of Wales, Lampeter, said: "The ship was probably at Newport undergoing repairs and was later abandoned during the wild and lawless times which existed during the Wars of the Roses."

The ship, which is believed to have been built in 1465 is one of the most complete examples of its type discovered.

It is estimated to have been around 25 metres long, while tree-ring eveidence dates the timbers to the winter of 1465-6.

It has been taken from its resting place on the banks of the Usk in central Newport and is being preserved ahead of possible reconstruction.

Newport Council, the Welsh assembly and Cadw, have committed 3.5m to preseve the ship, prior to display in a purpose-built gallery.

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