Medieval ship discovered in Newport originated in Basque Country

The discovery of the ship in Newport in 2002 came as a complete surprise Photo: ITV News Wales

A medieval ship discovered in Newport 10 years ago originated in the Basque Country, it’s been revealed.

Experts had known for a long time that the ship was associated with Iberia, Portugal and Spain because of finds including foreign coins.

But by using the science of dendrochronology – or ‘tree-ring dating’ - they have now been able to match some of the wooden planks from the ship with medieval buildings in the hills behind the Basque Country coast.

That particular area was involved in ship-building from the medieval period onwards and has a proud maritime history.

Having already discovered that the ship ended up in Newport, historians say tracing its Basque Country origins has filled in a vital piece of the puzzle.

Associate Professor in Archaeology Nigel Nayling told ITV Wales this latest discovery is an ‘incredible step forward’.

But the mystery is not fully solved, as historians still don’t know why the ship ended up in Newport.

They are also unclear as to why the ship – which would have been a very valuable item – was never repaired and re-used.

Following their latest discovery, experts now hope to uncover more clues - including the name of the ship.

Excited onlookers queued for hours to catch a glimpse of the ship when it was discovered Credit: ITV News Wales

The ship was uncovered in the River Usk in 2002 during the construction of Newport's Riverfront Theatre and Arts Centre.

It has been determined that the vessel would have been 35 metres long - the length of two double-decker buses. It's believed to have been built in 1447 and would probably have carried wool, wine and timber for trade.

The unexpected discovery captured the hearts of the local community, with pleas made to Newport City Council and the Welsh Government to save it.

The ship has been carefully preserved and studied ever since – with this the latest in a line of exciting discoveries.

Historians hope the ship will be put on public display once restored – something they say could be a real draw for tourists and a celebration of Wales’ maritime heritage.

Click below to watch our June report on the 10th anniversary of the ship's discovery in Newport.