Newport ship working replica 'could sail on River Usk'

By Jordan Davies
BBC News

Image caption,
The ship was found by workers digging out The Riverfront's orchestra pit

A working replica of a 15th Century ship discovered in Newport could sail on the River Usk within a decade, according to those restoring it.

Archaeologists from the Basque region hope to build a working version of the ship after they complete a similar project in Spain.

Wood from the region was used to build the vessel, which was found buried on the banks of the Usk 15 years ago.

Friends of Newport the Ship said a replica would be "wonderful".

Archaeologists from the Basque heritage body Albaola are already working to restore a 16th Century whaling ship called the San Juan.

Members of the Friends of the Newport Ship (FONS) have travelled to the Basque region to discuss the possibility of a replica of their ship being built.

Image caption,
Phil Cox said the Spanish authorities could help pay for the project

FONS chairman Phil Cox said: "They've always had an interest because we have the absolute designs for the ship, we have the physical ship, we have the model here in one-tenth scale.

"They can recreate that almost exactly."

Mr Cox said there was a strong link between the Basque country and the ship, and funding for a replica could come from the authorities in the region and the Spanish government.

"Our ship was Basque-built, built somewhere on the northern coast of Spain in the Basque Country," he said.

"The timbers were cut from the forests probably behind Bilbao and brought long to somewhere near San Sebastian for the ship to be built, to be in service by 1451 - and only in 1451 was Columbus born."

The Newport Medieval ship is the most complete example of a 15th Century clinker-built merchant vessel ever discovered in the UK.

It was found during building work for the Riverfront Theatre in 2002.

Its timbers are currently being refurbished, with the hope of eventually putting it on display in a museum in Newport.

Image caption,
A model of the ship can be seen at a temporary museum house to showcase the ship's story in Newport

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