Chatham dig finds Tudor dockyard remains

The Command House The dig found evidence that The Command House stands on the site of the Tudor shipyard

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Archaeologists have uncovered evidence which they say confirms the site of Henry VIII's dockyard in Kent.

Evidence of Chatham's Tudor shipyard, along with medieval remains, were found during a four-day dig at the Command House pub on the banks of River Medway.

The dig, the first on the site, was filmed for a History Channel programme presented by comedian Rory McGrath.

Medway Council said it hoped the finds would support its World Heritage status bid for Chatham Historic Dockyard.

The dig uncovered evidence that proved the pub stands on the site of one of the earliest shipyards at Chatham.

A ship's hook, nails and tankards used by Tudor ship builders from the time of Henry VIII were found.

"There was a wonderful tile that they think came from the medieval Chatham Church. a clay pipe, some ironwork and what they think is a Tudor brick," said Richard Holdsworth, the dockyard's education director.

Chatham Dockyard and its defences are on the government's shortlist of potential World Heritage Sites.

The UK can propose one World Heritage Site a year and could put forward Chatham's application in 2013.

The first documentary evidence of the Royal Navy's use of the River Medway dates from 1547, the year Henry VIII died.

By the reign of Elizabeth I, Chatham was England's principal fleet base with the majority of the Queen's ships overwintering in the River Medway.

In 1613 Chatham dockyard moved to its present site and the Tudor yard was redeveloped.

"This is an area of very rich heritage," said Robin Cooper, head of regeneration at Medway Council.

"This is another piece of the jigsaw about the history of Medway, so it is fascinating."

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