15th Century Ship From Portugal Up For Restoration In Newport After 2 Decades Of Work

A 1440-built ship has been lying under thick layers of mud in Newport, Wales, and archaeologists are now trying to restore it. The 15th-century vessel was unearthed in 2002 and has been under construction in an arts centre orchestra pit.

The ship dating back to the Wars of the Roses was discovered in the pristine condition below the River Usk. It’s been lying there intact for nearly five centuries. It’s older than the 1551-built ship Mary Rose seen in Portsmouth. Archaeologists have found more than 1000 objects associated with this wreck, providing them with valuable insight into the time. Now after 19 years of restoration and complete restoration last month, the ship is getting ready. 

For the restoration, they hung every piece of the salvaged wood in a big tank containing wax and dried it. Then they were transferred to Mary Rose Dockyard and York for freeze-drying. Now they have moved all the parts to a Newport warehouse, where they will be built and displayed permanently. The curator revealed that the fragile oak wood of the ship needs another 5-10 years for conservation, and then it can be displayed. 

15th century Newport Ship
Image for representation purposes only

The cargo and the ship were well preserved in the mud, and from its artefacts like coins, it can be deduced that the ship came from Portugal. The wine trading ship was made of wood from the Basque Country.

There’s no concrete evidence regarding its arrival at Newport but circumstantial evidence from a letter from the 16th Earl Of Warwick, Richard Neville, with the words “Fix my ship at Newport”, accredit him for bringing it to Newport in 1469.

Amongst the 1000 artefacts found are a coin embedded in the ship’s keel (an old sailing superstition) and a brass helmet whose rim has biblical verses engraved on it. 

References: The Daily Mail UK, News-Times UK

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