Members of the Friends of Newport Ship and Newport City Council, Picture by Tom Atkins

The last piece of Newport’s medieval ship returns to the city

The final piece in the jigsaw of the Newport Ship arrived in the city earlier on Friday. Members of the Friends of Newport Ship group and Newport City Council celebrated as the piece of timber was lifted into their warehouse. There are more than 2,000 bits of timber that make up the ship, ranging from 500kg sections of the bow to tiny fragments of wood.

Emma Newrick, who leads the Culture and Heritage Team at Newport City Council, said that today was a landmark day for the project.

Archaeologists think that the medieval ship, which was built around 1449, sunk whilst undergoing construction work between 1468 and 1469. It’s believed the ship transported wine from Portugal to Bristol. It was discovered in the tidal mud of the River Usk in 2002, when construction workers began digging out an orchestra pit for the Riverside Arts Centre. Campaigners petitioned the council to salvage the wreckage and the timber was removed and taken to Portsmouth for restoration, where it has remained until now.

Picture: Newport Museums and Heritage Service

The restoration team now have a big challenge reassembling the ship. The vessel which measures more than 30-metres and weighs over 20 tons will take many years to put back together. Dr Toby Jones, who is the project’s curator, said that it is important to preserve the history of the city. He said, ‘you don’t have to invent anything, we’ve got a piece of heritage here in Newport’.

Before anything else, the council need to find a home for the boat. Finding a site big enough in the centre of Newport is their next big challenge.

You can find out more about the history of the Newport Ship here.