From Roman merchants to 17th-century English warships to World War I steamers, shipwrecks can reward adventurous spirits with some fascinating wine finds. One such prime example is "the Newport Ship," a massive 15th-century wine-trading vessel capable of carrying up to 18,000 cases of wine and rediscovered in South Wales in 2002 during excavations for construction of Newport's Riverfront Theatre and Arts Centre.
The Newport Ship's recovery has taken longer than anticipated, but the Newport Museum and Heritage Service, responsible for preserving the ship, recently announced that it has moved a step closer to putting the vessel back together.
Why the lengthy delay? And, as philosophers may ask, will it really be the same ship? As part of the restoration, the Newport Ship’s original wood timbers have been freeze-drying for years at the York Archaeological Trust in York and the Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth, England. However, only the original hull and mast were recovered; the rest of the restored Newport Ship will be "new."
“The ship was extremely well-made from thousands of primarily oak timbers, which were extensively tarred during and after construction, helping to ensure the vessel’s preservation,” Newport Medieval Ship Project curator Dr. Toby Jones told Wine Spectator via email.
The wood is finally dry, but "we still have a good few years of work ahead of us," Jones said. In the meantime, visitors might be able to observe the process. “The ship will be displayed in a large hall as a centerpiece of Newport Museum’s fantastic archaeological and social history collections.” Considering the ship spent more than 500 years stuck in the mud and another 20 years drying out, we're optimistic for its successfully well-aged return to public life … on its own time.
Newport Medieval Ship from Dextra Visual on Vimeo.
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