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Lett. The ship was in an excellent state ot preservation, despite the modern piles driven down through the timbers. It was slightly tipped over to one side so that the sides survived more to the right than to the lett.

Right. The photo shows well the curvature ot the side ot the ship, and the running repair to a cracked timber.

Below. The mast-step at the centre ot the ship was wellpreserved, despite the modern pile that had been driven down through it.

The ship would certainly have been capable of sea voyages, and almost certainly sailed around the coast of Wales and England. Finds suggest that it travelled to Ireland, France and Portugal. It is likely that the ship was a trading vessel, rather than a military craft, engaging in commerce around north-west Europe. In the turbulent times of the 15th century, however, merchant ships could well have been commandeered for military service.

Wherever the last voyage had taken it, catastrophe seems to have befallen the vessel. There was evidence of damage, possibly from a storm or collision, in the form of large cracks in crucial structural timbers, including the mast step. One crack had undergone a running repair, with a small rectangular wooden block inserted, presumably in an attempt to maintain seaworthiness until a safe haven could be reached. It was in this condition that the ship sailed into Newport and was brought up from the main river channel of the Usk to its resting place on the west bank.

The ship was not simply abandoned, however. Excavation beneath the hull planking showed that it was deliberately positioned, with several large timber supports beneath the sides of the vessel. Some of these oak supports have intact bark, and so tree-ring analysis may reveal the date that the ship was brought in to Newport. Wooden wedges between some of the ship timbers show that work then took place, and a door-sized gap was cut through the starboard side, presumably to allow easy access. It is unclear if this work was to repair the vessel or simply to salvage the timber, but whichever it was, it was never completed. The ship was abandoned, eventually to be buried beneath the alluvial clay.

• The finds Artefacts, both organic and inorganic, were well preserved within the clay that filled the ship. Around 240 sherds of pottery were recovered, all Merida ware produced in Portugal throughout the medieval and postmedieval periods. This type of pottery was often used on board ships, and it may be that these pots were used by the crew, rather than being the remains of a cargo. Large quantities of animal and fish bones were recovered, possibly including marine mammal, along with numerous oyster, mussel and limpet shells. The rim of a small glass vessel was found, and several stone cannon shot suggest the presence of at least one gun on board, for signalling purposes and defence.

Six coins were found and have been examined by Edward Besly of the National Museums & Galleries of Wales. A preliminary identification suggests three of these are copper ceitils of Alfonso V of Portugal (143881), whilst a fourth is a copper real preto of Duarte I (1433-38), also struck in Lisbon. A copper alloy jetton, showing an African head on the obverse with a border of fleurs-de-lis on the reverse, is likely to date from the 14th15th centuries. Other metalwork includes two engraved mounts, which have been examined by Mark Redknap of the National Museums & Galleries of Wales. Both mounts are made of brass or gilt bronze with scalloped lower edges and engraved in Black Letter script with the letters 'ENS' and 'MEDIUM ILLORUM'. The fragments resemble the decorative binding of sma~l

AlfAlEOLOGY 184

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