Guernsey

Guernsey museum plan for Asterix welcomed

Plans for Asterix museum in Guernsey
Image caption The plans for the new museum were submitted in May and approved in December

The marine archaeologist who oversaw the recovery of the Gallo-Roman wreck Asterix has said she is excited that a new museum will be built for it.

Planning permission has been granted to Oatlands Holdings for a new purpose-built museum in St Sampson in which to exhibit the 1,700-year-old vessel.

Dr Margaret Rule, whose team raised the vessel between 1984 and 1986, said: "It is excellent that she's coming home."

The vessel was discovered in St Peter Port harbour on Christmas Day 1982.

Dr Rule, who also oversaw the raising and exhibition of the Mary Rose, said: "This is the best news for 2013."

Image caption Dr Rule said providing the right atmospheric conditions around the timbers would be a challenge

She described the sea-going trading ship, which is currently in storage in Portsmouth, as "enormously significant" and said it was important that it be exhibited.

'Jigsaw puzzle'

"It's vital. Unless she is displayed and available for scholarly investigation and for the public to enjoy, then we've wasted all our time," she said.

"I'd love to be involved in the reconstruction because that will be a source of great learning."

Dr Rule said there was much research work to be done, including extensive dendrochronology but the vessel would have to be housed in a carefully controlled environment.

"It's quite a tricky job to get that right," she said. "We've experimented with the Mary Rose for 30 years to get it right.

"People coming in on a wet day could affect the environment quite severely. It's a jigsaw puzzle that you can only get right once."

'Elegant solution'

Dr Jason Monaghan, Guernsey's director of heritage services, also welcomed the planners' decision.

"We've been discussing where to put it for 26 years and we've looked at two dozen different places in that time," he said.

"The Oatlands solution is quite an elegant one. Back in the Roman period, Oatlands was probably on the waterfront.

"You could actually have moored a ship there as easily as in St Peter Port."

The timbers of the ship, thought to have been built by Celts during the late Roman period, are owned by the States of Guernsey.

Dr Monaghan said: "We're going to have to talk commercial terms with Oatlands about the basis upon which we put the ship there and how the attraction is run thereafter. But this is the best option we've had for two decades."

BBC Guernsey approached Oatlands Holdings for a comment, but no-one was available.

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