Page last updated at 06:03 GMT, Thursday, 29 April 2010 07:03 UK

Virtual museum for Newport's medieval ship

Virtual ship museum
The museum gives visitors the chance to 'walk' around the ship and learn more about its history

A "virtual museum" which gives people the opportunity to experience medieval Newport and its ship and castle in the 15th Century is going online.

The University of Wales, Newport, has designed an interactive view of the medieval ship uncovered on the banks of the River Usk in 2002.

Visitors will be able to "walk" around the ship's underwater remains and see it in its medieval landscape.

The museum can be accessed through the Second Life virtual world.

The project forms part of the university's new Digital Heritage Zone within Second Life.

The museum will tell the story of the ship and the mysteries that are still being unravelled.

Newport ship artist's impression
The ship is thought to have been used for trade with Spain

Matt Chilcott, development director at the university's Institute of Digital Learning, said: "This innovative digital approach enables Newport to share its rich heritage with a range of audiences all over the world in a new and exciting way.

"For example, tourists planning to visit Newport can now have fun exploring the area's history before they even arrive in Wales."

He continued: "This cutting-edge project in the field of digital heritage is an example of the work we are doing here at the university to explore how online 3D technologies can be used to help visualise history, and bring it to life as an effective learning, teaching and public engagement medium."

The project is being officially unveiled at the university's Caerleon site on Thursday at 1700 BST.

The museum has been developed in collaboration with the Friends of Newport Ship, Newport Past and the People's Collection Wales.

'Best example'

Remains of the ship were uncovered in 2002 when work began on the foundations for the Riverfront arts centre next to the River Usk.

The timbers, which totalled 2,600 in all, had to be recovered piece by piece.

Experts have spent the past eight years rebuilding it, and estimate they have recovered over 60% of the original vessel.

The ship is described as the largest surviving example of a medieval clinker built ship, a type of design where wooden planks are attached to a hull so they overlap each other.

It has been called the best example of a 15th Century ship in the world.

A series of open days is being held over the next five months for the public to view the latest stage of restoration and also see a 3D model of the ship.

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