Archaeologists Are Finally Able to Rebuild Mysterious 15th Century Vessel, The Newport Ship
by Ashley Dreiling
In 2002, construction workers unearthed an archeological treasure on the banks of the River Usk in South Whales. It was the wreckage of a medieval cargo vessel, the Newport Ship.
After 20 years, the Newport Ship conservation project is ready to rebuild the famous vessel – in front of an audience.
The Newport Museums & Heritage Service describes the lucky discovery: “It was an accident of fate that the only part of the construction site that required deep excavation [the orchestra pit] would yield a medieval ship.”
Originally built in 1449, the three-masted craft measured more than 98 feet long, was able to carry up to 200 tons, and was likely built in Basque County.
Archeologists believe the ship flooded in 1469 after repairs went wrong.
The conservation team recently completed the preservation of the ship’s timbers by coating them in wax and freeze-drying them in batches. With the help of experts who reconstructed the Mary Rose, a 16th-century shipwreck, the team began rebuilding The Newport piece by piece.
“We have a massive, flat-pack ship that we need to reassemble and there are no instructions,” project curator Toby Jones told the BBC. “You cannot build this thing then move it.”
The brilliant @MaryRoseMuseum sharing their expertise
Now these thousands of timbers will be pieced back together. pic.twitter.com/SSRepdIfke
— Dan Snow (@thehistoryguy) January 19, 2023
This means the team will have an audience as they reassemble the vessel, on top of a platform to lift it from the water, in the same location where it will be displayed.
They are hoping that the product of two decades’ work will be visited and enjoyed for generations to come.