Visit The Newport Medieval Ship In Wales

Newport medieval ship
When the city of Newport, Wales, was building its Riverfront Arts Centre back in 2002, there was an amazing discovery. A large medieval trading vessel was discovered in very good condition.

The ship measured about 85 feet in length and was 26 feet wide at its widest point. The timbers of the clinker-built ship survived the centuries thanks to the oxygen-poor conditions in the River Usk where it was found. This kept microbes from feeding on the ship.

Hundreds of artifacts were recovered during the excavation, including an hourglass, a shoe, a cannonball and Portuguese coins. The most important artifact was a small silver coin found wedged into a hole at the join between the stem post and the keel. This type of coin was minted in France from 1445-1456 and so the ship must date to then or later. Coins were often placed into the fabric of a ship when it was being built as a token of good luck.

While a planned museum for the ship hasn’t been built yet and restoration of the timbers isn’t finished, it’s still possible to visit the Newport Medieval Ship. There are various open days, including one on June 1 and another on June 9. The one on June 1 marks a decade since the ship was discovered. Visitors will get to see the restoration in progress and hear more about the ship and its times from local experts.

[Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

Cutty Sark Reopens After Disastrous Fire

Cutty Sark
The famous tea clipper Cutty Sark will be once again open to the public this Thursday after years of restoration work to repair damage from a fire in 2007. The Queen will perform an official reopening ceremony on Wednesday.

Located in Greenwich, London, this beautiful ship has been a longtime favorite of Londoners. It went on its maiden voyage in 1870 and is the last surviving tea clipper in existence, a reminder of a time when sailing ships brought loads of tea to London from China. Steam-powered boats passing through the Suez Canal soon took over that route, though, and the Cutty Sark was transferred to the Australian wool route. It broke the speed record for that run and became one of the most famous ships on the high seas.

But as steam ships became increasingly common, the Cutty Sark became more and more outdated, being relegated to lesser runs for poorer shipping companies. The ship was saved from a sad end when it was bought by an admirer in 1922 and lovingly restored to its former glory. It opened to the public in 1957.

A fire broke out in 2007 while it was being refurbished. Its decks were burnt through but since much of the ship’s fittings and contents had been moved away while work was being done, these were saved. Now after a long restoration, you can stand on the deck of this remarkable vessel again and learn about daily life aboard her with a guided tour. The BBC has an interesting slideshow of the restoration work here.

[Photo courtesy Visit Greenwich]