A NUMBER of ancient fishing baskets, thought to be at least 600 years old, have been unearthed in the Severn Estuary.

Fishermen from Black Rock Lave Net Fishery made the discovery on their fishing grounds just off the coast of Portskewett in Monmouthshire.

The baskets had been buried in the river bank for hundreds of years until a recent storm in the estuary washed away the layers of mud, sand and silt to reveal a glimpse into the history of the area.

It is now the close season for the Black Rock Lave Net Fishery, but the fishermen continue to watch the fishing grounds and often find many things of interest such as these baskets.

This isn’t the first time the group have found artefacts such as these. However, as Martin Morgan, secretary of the fishery, explained, it is unusual to uncover so many baskets grouped together.

Mr Morgan said: “The baskets would have been baited and pegged to the estuary bed at low tide. The catch would have been green eels and lamprey.

“They are made of willow and hazel in an urn shape with a non-return built into the neck. The overall length is around two feet.”

Previous finds made by the fishermen have been recorded by Cadw and carbon dated by Reading university to be from around the 12th to the 15th century. These baskets were found in the same area and look to be of a similar design.

Mr Morgan explained that members of the fishery were hoping to get their most recent find carbon dated but added: “Once exposed, they are quickly destroyed by the tide so our fishermen record details of them. Time is of the essence.

“People have fished this estuary for thousands of years, and it’s great for our fishermen to uncover and record some history."

Lave net fishing, as practiced by Mr Morgan and his colleagues at Black Rock, is an ancient fishing method, recorded on the estuary in the 17th century. However, it is thought to have been around for even longer.

The Black Rock Lave Net Fishermen are now the last traditional salmon fishery on the Welsh region of the estuary.

To find out more about lave net fishing and the Black Rock Lave Net Fishermen’s Association, visit lavenets4wales.wixsite.com/blackrocklavenet