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Make Ship Happen campaign ropes in Palmyra arch expert

PUBLISHED: 10:19 09 August 2019 | UPDATED: 15:46 09 August 2019

From left to right, Philip Leech, Tim Kirk, Damian Goodburn and Jacq Barnard. Picture: RACHEL EDGE

From left to right, Philip Leech, Tim Kirk, Damian Goodburn and Jacq Barnard. Picture: RACHEL EDGE

RACHEL EDGE

The #MakeShipHappen campaign got off to a rousing start at the official launch at the Longshed in Woodbridge

Roger Michel, executive director of Oxford University'’s The Institute for Digital Archaeology, at the ceremony for his Palmyra Arch reconstruction with now prime minister Boris Johnson in London in 2016. Picture: MIKE PITTS/DIGGING DEEPER LTD.Roger Michel, executive director of Oxford University'’s The Institute for Digital Archaeology, at the ceremony for his Palmyra Arch reconstruction with now prime minister Boris Johnson in London in 2016. Picture: MIKE PITTS/DIGGING DEEPER LTD.

More than 200 people gathered to kick off the campaign for the £1million funding needed to construct the build of the 90ft Sutton Hoo replica ship.

Ellen Widdup, of Prominent PR, officially opened the ceremony alongside directors of the The Sutton Hoo Ship's Company, Jacq Barnard and Philip Leech, with archaeologist Damian Goodburn from the Museum of London Archaeology and volunteer shipwright Tim Kirk.

One of the highlights of the evening was the rivet auction, where the community had the chance to buy the special rivet at the head of the structure owning the 'tip of the ship'.

Bids began at £50 but snowballed within seconds after an offer of £1,000 was instantly superseded with the closing bid of £2,000.

People can sponsor one of the rivets which will be used to hold the ship together. Picture: RACHEL EDGEPeople can sponsor one of the rivets which will be used to hold the ship together. Picture: RACHEL EDGE

The generous final offers came from Roger Michel, executive director of Oxford University's The Institute for Digital Archaeology, one of the sponsors of the Make Ship Happen scheme.

Mr Michel is the man behind the replica of the Palmyra arch. The 1,800-year-old Arch of Triumph, originally built by the Roman's, was destroyed in Syria whilst the city was under occupation by ISIS.

In October 2015 the now defunct extremist group deliberately rigged the structure with dynamite in their bid to annihilate Roman inspired remains.

The ship will be built inside the Longshed on the site of the former Whisstocks boatyard in Woodbridge. PICTURE: RACHEL EDGEThe ship will be built inside the Longshed on the site of the former Whisstocks boatyard in Woodbridge. PICTURE: RACHEL EDGE

Unveiled in Trafalgar Square in April 2016 by Boris Johnson, at the time Mayor of London, he hailed the reproduced artefact as a symbol of courage in the face of terrorist adversity.

Dividing his time between Oxfordshire and Massachusetts in the USA, Mr Michel came to be involved with the project through a long standing association with Mr Leech.

Now Mr Michel is determined to help with the resurrection of the 7th century burial ship and his dedication to the cause was obvious as he encouraged the rest of the audience to dig deep with a decent proposal.

If 10 members of the public were willing to pay £100 each for a rivet, Mr Michel offered to match it with his bid total - bringing the grand total to £4,000 within five minutes of the auction going ahead.

Director of The Sutton Hoo Ship's Company Philip Leech with Palmyra Arch expert Roger Michel, after whipping up a bidding frenzy. Picture: RACHEL EDGEDirector of The Sutton Hoo Ship's Company Philip Leech with Palmyra Arch expert Roger Michel, after whipping up a bidding frenzy. Picture: RACHEL EDGE

Mr Michel said: "The Sutton Hoo restoration will be our first UK-based reconstruction. We are going to help financially support the project and provide 3D scans and perhaps produce some of the rivets using 3D technology. So we anticipate being a full partner on this.

"This is quite a modest project for us but a unique one. The great thing about it is that it's UK based which is long overdue and it's our first ship building project too.

"We feel very strongly about supporting this. I think this is an amazing venture and it's something we are very excited about."

If you'd like to get involved or sponsor one of the rivets still available, click here

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