A CELEBRATION of Newport and Basque’s shared maritime history took place with an event to mark two group's collaboration.

The Friends of Newport Ship charity have been given a flag from the Spanish Albaola maritime group, which attracts 38,000 tourists a year to their life-size replicas of ancient vessels.

The Newport medieval ship, which is believed to come from the Basque area, was first unearthed in 2002 after work started to build the Riverfront Theatre on the bank of the River Usk.

Working together since 2008 “with academic vigour,” Friends of Newport Ship and the Albaola maritime group sealed their partnership with the exchange of gifts.

Chairman of Friends of Newport Ship, Phil Cox, described the flag as a “symbol of friendship and collaboration.”

He said: “The Basque flag will fly proudly in our ship centre as a symbol of our shared maritime history, alongside our own Welsh dragon.

“We look forward to visiting the Basque country, visiting Albaola and seeing their amazing projects as they create full scale replicas of medieval vessels.”

He added: “Perhaps one day they will build a replica of our own Newport ship and sail it up the river Usk in recognition of the original we have here.”

The event was attended by several Basque people, including Dr Isabel Echeveste, who has worked in Newport for 17 years.

She said: “I have Basque connections and knew about the Friends of Newport Ship so when I heard about this event I thought I should attend to show my daughters.”

Beñat Eguiluz Miranda, 25, of the University of Wales Trinity St David, represented the Albaola group at the meeting and studies Archaeology under Professor Nigel Nayling, of the Newport Medieval Ship project.

The student said: “This meeting brings together two sides of the same coin, the Welsh and the Basque.

“They are linked by maritime history and that is represented today by the Albaola group donating this flag.”

He added: "Both groups are dedicated to preserving the remains of the past and bringing them to life again and it is this cultural link that unites us."

Mr Miranda also received a gift from the Newport group — a print of celebrated artist Peter Power’s Medieval ship painting.

The two groups will continue to work closely in future, with plans for the Albaola society to build a full scale replica of the Newport Medieval Ship.

Mr Cox added: “Together we hope to create a magnificent and inspiring exhibit that will draw people into Newport from across Europe and beyond.

“We hope we can forge a strong friendship that can be recognised by our individual regions and the common political platform of the EU.”

The flag will hang in the FONS centre at Queensway Meadows Industrial Estate.

For more information visit newportship.org