Viking ship found under pub

Viking ship found under pub

Experts used radar technology to map the location of what they believe could be one of Britain's most significant archaeological finds.

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The technology has been used to trace the outline of an object which matches the scale and shape of a longship, possibly from the time Vikings settled in Meols, on the Wirral peninsula in Merseyside.

Meols is known to have one of Britain's best preserved Viking settlements, buried deep beneath the village and nearby coastal defences.

The vessel is thought to lie beneath two to three metres of waterlogged clay under the nearby Railway Inn.

Still a mystery

Viking expert Professor Stephen Harding, of the University of Nottingham, used Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) equipment to pinpoint the ship's whereabouts.

He is now seeking funds to pay for a major archaeological dig to excavate the site.

He believes the ship could be carefully removed and exhibited in a museum.

"The next stage is the big one," Prof Harding said.

"Although we still don't know what sort of vessel it is, it's very old for sure and its Nordic clinker design, position and location suggest it may be a transport vessel from the Viking settlement period if not long afterwards. Scandinavian influence persisted here through the centuries.

"It is speculation at the moment but at least we now know exactly where to look to find out. How it got there is also hard to say. It is some distance from the present coastline and probably the old one too.

"It might have got to its present position after flooding and sinking into an old marsh."

A business opportunity?

The ship was first uncovered in 1938 when the Railway Inn was being knocked down and rebuilt further away from the road, the old pub being made into a car park.

Workers unearthed part of an old clinker-built vessel but were advised by the foreman to cover it over again so as not to delay construction.

Prof Harding thinks there is a possibility of accessing the boat from the pub cellar, which could eventually allow members of the public to view it from this point.