Something to consider
Volume 40, Number 2, February 2003
In this month’s NEWS AND VIEWS we feature the story of the “Newport Ship” and the struggle to save what has been dubbed the “Welsh Mary Rose”. That this archaeological find is of great significance cannot be doubted however it seems that not all were so convinced and initially there were no plans to even salvage let alone preserve this incredible find. Despite evidence that suggested that this was the only extant example of a merchantman of the period (1465/6) and that its excellent state of preservation meant that it could well hold the key to developments in shipbuilding not to mention the role played by Newport in Wales’ International relations the only plans for the ship were at the business end of a bulldozer. Incredible though it may seem Newport City Council felt they were unable to find the funds necessary to save this ship and it was proposed that it should simply be buried, not for future generations to “re-discover” a la “Time Team” but rather with no regard to the vessel at all. Thankfully there were some out there who had other ideas and, following the presentation of a 9,000 signature petition and a 24 hour vigil at the site funds were forthcoming and the “Newport Ship” has been spared. £3.5m has been earmarked by Newport City Council in collaboration with Cadw and the National Assembly to preserve the ship’s Timbers prior to display in a purpose built gallery. Unfortunately this money, a vast sum though it may appear, is not enough to preserve the ship in its entirety nor properly research the artefacts discovered with the vessel. Already it has been suggested that the stern section is too damaged to be saved and thus should simply be “dug under” when the rest of the ship is moved and the fate of the bow is still not certain! To try to ensure that this archaeological wonder is not lost forever a group of concerned historians and laymen, amongst them a number of keen numismatists, have formed the Support Our Ship association and aim to raise enough money to both keep the ship intact and to rescue and properly study all of the items found on board her. We at COIN NEWS are proud to have joined this association and to call ourselves “Friends of the Newport Ship” and we would encourage as many of our readers as possible to follow suit. Supported by the Council for British Archaeology, the Chepstow Archaeological Society, Pill Heritage Centre and Risca Industrial History and Archaeological Society, “Friends of the Newport Ship” is open to all who support the aims of the Society – namely to promote knowledge and Information about the Newport Ship and to foster an appreciation of the Maritime and industrial Heritage of South Wales. For further information, or to become a “Friend” (membership is just £5 renewable annually on August 23) write to The Membership Secretary, Friends of the Newport Ship, 3-4 North Street, Newport NP20 1JZ. “Friends” will receive regular progress updates, a newsletter and a host of other benefits. However it isn’t just the Newport Ship that we would urge readers to become involved with – after all this is just one case that we happen to have heard about; how many more such archaeological finds are out there, lying unresearched through lack of proper funding? How many more such amazing discoveries are just waiting for a multi-national company to buy the land on which they lie and plough them under for ever to make way for yet another superstore, car-park or shopping mall? The Medieval ship in Newport will not be the only such site in the country; we can guarantee that - how many more are there? How many more such wonders are to be lost forever because of a lack of interest or funding? How many more coins and other artefacts are to remain buried simply because nobody cares enough to do something about it? In Newport enough people did care but what about elsewhere? If you know of such a site, languishing because nobody wants to do anything about it then maybe consider that you could be the one to help. Just Like the Friends of the Newport Ship you’ll soon find that there are plenty of others willing to rally around once the call goes out – they’ve had over 10,000 visitors in just two public viewings. Something to think about isn’t it?
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