Cardiff Castle Garrison were thrilled to return to the Newport Ship for another Open Day. The charity are continuing to preserve the 15th Century timbers of the ship found in the River Usk in 2002, and hope to finish this process over the next year. They then plan to display the ship in a purpose-built museum.
We were delighted to return to the Newport Ship this month for their open day. Now in their new warehouse, this medieval ship is being painstakingly preserved and studied. Five hundred timbers had returned from freeze-drying at the York Archaeological Trust only two days before, so it was great to have a look at the progressing work.
We set up a range of displays for the public to help interpret medieval life including archery, weapons, armour, crafts and music. It is always great to make links between our displays and the archaeology at hand. For example, in showing medieval spinning and wool processing we could relate this to the sheep wool (potentially of Merino type [Mulville and Hunter Zooarch JISCMail 2003]) and other animal products that were found in the ship’s caulking and luting material; these included raw fibres, dyed fibres and woven material which were used in sealing the timbers and plugging leaks (Jones 2013, 4 & 10). The ship also had a silver coin inserted into a cut out in the stempost/keel join, potentially placed as a token of good fortune at the start of the ship’s construction. A largely 15th century (and thus contemporary) token or badge consists of a coin sealed inside a pewter purse (Spencer 1998; Spencer 1990, 116-117, 134-135, Figures 311-314c). One interpretation of these finds is that a belief existed that carrying a token of wealth increased your chances of attracting wealth to you.
We look forward to seeing the ship’s continued conservation and reassembly!
Jones, T. 2013. S.O.S. News from the Friends of the Newport Ship, 21.
Spencer, B. 1998. Museum of London Medieval Finds from Excavations in London 7: Pilgrim Souvenirs and Secular Badges. London: The Stationery Office.
Spencer, B. 1990. Salisbury & South Wiltshire Museum Medieval Catalogue Part 2: Pilgrim Souvenirs & Secular Badges. Wiltshire: Salisbury & South Wiltshire Museum.
The Newport Ship is the most complete archaeological example of a ship from the fifteenth century. Discovered in 2002 during development of the Riverfront Theatre in Newport, Wales, the ship’s timbers are currently undergoing conservation on the Maesglas Industrial Estate, Newport. After the conservation efforts are completed, it is hoped that the Newport Ship will be housed in its own purpose-built museum. The conservation work is not generally open to visitors, though several open days are held throughout the year to give the public a chance to view the fascinating work which is preserving this exciting find.
At this event, the Cardiff Castle Garrison displayed several crafts of the period, along with running a have-a-go archery for the public. Various members of our group at this event are pictured below, along with other images from previous Newport Ship open day events. We really enjoyed ourselves at this event, and will be back at the Newport Ship on Saturday 24th May 2014.
For more information about the Newport Ship, please see newportship.org
Images of the Newport Ship during excavation and its artists’ impression are used with the permission of the Newport Museums and Heritage Service.