Asterix may come home

A FINAL resting place for the Asterix Roman wreck is a step nearer after Oatlands received permission to build a maritime museum.

Timbers from the Asterix wreck are craned ashore.

A FINAL resting place for the Asterix Roman wreck is a step nearer after Oatlands received permission to build a maritime museum.

While both Oatlands owner Peter Kaufman-Kent and Culture and Leisure minister Mike O’Hara have expressed a desire to house the timbers in the museum, no official agreement has been reached.

And Deputy O’Hara would not be drawn  on how much such a deal could cost.

‘I am delighted the approval has been granted and I’m pleased for Mr Kaufman-Kent,’ he said.

‘What we will be looking to do now is have further discussions about the possibility of the wreck being placed at Oatlands and also looking at the possibility of someone else wanting to be involved.’

Deputy O’Hara has seen the plans and said the museum seemed like an ideal way to display the wreck.

Comments for: "Asterix may come home"


It's pleasing to see that appreciation is being displayed towards artefacts from Antiquity by having a place designated for them. I at first expressed hostility towards the proposed changes to Oatlands, but now I believe that investing capital into the creation of a new site or renovation of existing buildings would be good move. Sites wherein artefacts of historical consequence are conserved are excellent sources of education for locals, especially youths, as they are enlightened to their historic past by way of observing the item and reading the descriptions alongside the display.

Indeed, it was only the proposed equestrIn centre that I expressed ill feelings towards because, rather than being a genuine attempt to provide greater scope for the horsey fraternity, I saw it as a profiteering ploy aimed at increasing the already bulky fortune of Kaufman Kent.


why ? all that cost for a load of old timber


Historical significance ?


Shame they didn't share that view when they were selling off our market and knocking down the prison, Ted.


It's an old boat, wow.



Historical? yes for the age of the timbers.Built in Potus just outside Rome between 27BC-AD565 under Emperor Trajan AD98-117.

It was used for importing cargo from north of the penisular such as marble, glass, slaves and wild boar.

I can only gather it was picking up fresh supplies from these shores or wind drifted here.

The Asterix is only one of hundreds built during that period and left to lie where sunk.

The timbers are only valuable to historians as to where and from what trees built all thes boats.It is no value to people like us unless it had been in a complete state.

Town Dweller

If I want to have a look at a heap of old wood, I'll just go down to Portinfer Timber Yard.

I remember seeing Asterix when it was stored somewhere near Victoria Road in the late 80s and could not believe what a load of junk it was.

If it wasn't for the water they were continually spraying on it (to keep it in good condition?) I'd have put a match to it. I just hope the tax payer won't be contributing towards this vanity project.


I'm inclined to agree Town Dweller.

I love a bit of history but there's a limit. If a private investor wants to stump up the cash then fine, it's their money however I for one will be furious if any taxpayers money goes towards it.

When I hear talk of cuts left right and centre the last thing we should be thinking of is spending money preserving a load of old rotten timbers, even if they once were an ancient Roman boat.



I am in full agreement with your sentiments; I remember when this wonderful collection of timbers, that was all that was first apparent then, was dredged out of the sea - did you know it was christened Asterix by the son of a previous States worthy and, not recognised as such by historical research? Not suggesting you may be be ignorant on comic cartoon characters, but,who knows?

I have seen this craft over many years in its current locale and will be delighted to see it in situ at a worthy home.

Tim Berrotten

Why is anyone going to spend significant sums of money on displaying large pieces of old timber and, even more importantly, who would spend money on going along to see them? The pieces will have to be kept forever in an air conditioned, hermetically controlled environment. In any case, from memory, the preserved pieces are in no way boat like, in fact many bits were dumped after exposure to fresh water while they were in store in Guernsey caused them to rot and fall apart. Perhaps the GEP could obtain some current photographs of the timbers to educate everyone on the subject before we start off on a route that we/he cannot afford.


Individuals who have a strong interest in regional history and appreciate efforts that are being made to conserve artefacts that would have likely been destroyed otherwise, perhaps? I am aware that a collection of timbers would do little to attract an ardent exhibitionist, but the fact that this relic is the key to understanding Guernsey during Antiquity does much warrant it's position in a museum- even if the upkeep is rather expensive. Additionally, the historical consequence of this artefact negates the effects of its low aesthetic appeal. The important thing to remember is that what may appear as an otiose relic of the past for some is a source of intriguement for one probing the island's remote history.


Thank you, Stiletto

I cannot express how pleased I am that somebody's views are in accordance with mine and how somebody appreciates what I wish to discuss.


But why there? Why not the Old Slaughter House, you know, next to the Harbour, where ships tend to go?


I'm quite happy with the plan to put this pile of rot at Oatlands so long as not a penny of public money is wasted on it. The slaughterhouse site can and should be put to much better use, hopefully to generate money for the public purse rather than waste it on another one of man of the people Mike's vanity projects.


Strange the States are normally destroying old and interesting buildings, why the sudden change in preserving something old?


There is a fairly large range of buildings of which the construction dates back to the Victorian era and during the periods before, yet encountering an relic from Antiquity is a rarity and thus, it would be better to preserve something that originates from an age of which many artefacts are seldom discovered because there will still continue to be buildings from more modern history that will remain undemolished.

Prioritisation of artefacts based on abundance of similar objects from that era as well as the age from which the artefacts emanate from are key prerequisites when deciding what gets conserved and what gets discarded.


Oatlands does seems a bit of an odd location for a maritime museum indeed, would be better on the coast. Possibly the old Slaughtehouse as Mark says or on a pierhead in town in place of ubiquitous car parking which can be reallocated. In my view a maritime museum should incorporate Guernsey's fine shipbuilding past. The news release only mentions Asterix which in itself does not a museum make.. The best maritime museum I've visited is In Falmouth, superb although it cost millions of pounds provided Lottery funding.

guern abroad

I am very pleased that this grant of permission is for a museum that is on the site and not the vinery application, so thumbs up to the Planning department.


Yes, that was most likely P KK's intention from the get go..!


The Slaughterhouse was the original idea for the Asterix.. then it suddenly moved to Oatlands.. now Mr KK has permission.. Oh theres a surprise.. It may not go there now afterall.. so what will go there instead ?

Another huge monstrocity for Mr KK to put there..

Why not move the Millenium Wheel from London here !!! I DO HOPE NOT !!!


My view hasn't changed

Not a penny of States money should be spent on this project.

I'd also seriously examine C&L's budget priorities if they are even suggesting spending a penny on this venture.


I think that the Asterix would be a good addition to an already existing collection of maritime effects but find it difficult to see a whole new museum being built around it.

We already have nautical themed museums at Castle Cornet (where IMO it would be better placed) and at Fort Grey. Another one at Oatlands just doesn't make sense in the context of the place. At the moment, Oatlands is a mish-mash jumble of 'attractions' and looking more like a gypsy encampment every time I go past. Would it attract the visitors it would need to pay for its keep?


Are people really too stupid to realise the reason this is to go at oatlands is because the guy making the museum owns oatlands and has the land to build a museum there, this isn't a states project where they can pick or choose locations.


'Old boat', ''old timber', 'pile of rot'- it's evident that the artefact has low aesthetic appeal, but I am sure that there are at least a handful of connoisseurs out there who have the capacity to appreciate the subtle aspects of historical relics. Thus, surely one would have the ability to show respect to those whom these collection of objects act as a source of intriguement for- even if in their view it appears otiose.


Instead of bleating about States funds being used for this project, which it isn't, moaning without knowledge, we should embrace our rich maritime heritage.

Next time you are lined up, oiled and burning on a beach in the Murcia region of Spain, go visit the Maritime museum in Cartagena, which is built around a Phoenician craft, one of two located just outside the main harbour, the actual boats are still in situ, carefully preserved within a steel box, the replica and artifacts, which are original, are stunning.

Next time you are on the South East coast of UK, go see the Mary Rose, a magnificent Tudor example of sea going splendour.

I doubt that I will reach the bigots' brain cells on this thread, one can but try.


Absolutely !

Well said, Stiletto; perhaps it is only me,you as well as a handful of others (one's who are possibly supportive of this endeavour, yet do not explicily express their approval on this forum) that have the capacity to embrace our vibrant nautical past and not grumble about the capital that some believe is being 'squandered' by developing a museum.

Was history your subject of expertise at school ? Or, as you have grown more wise ( I am not saying you never were though !), have started to show an interest of aspects of the larger environment that are of historical consequence ?

I earnestly believe that in Guernsey, especially as it is an island and therefore, theoretically, has an extensive association wifor sea-faring merchants of the past and nautical aspects of bygone dynasties, money and time ought to be invested into ventures that aim to revive knowledge of forgotten elements of its maritime-rich history.



To be honest comments like yours are a little irritating - just because people are concerned where our already stretched public funds are going doesn't suddenly make them cultural neanderthals. We're just being pragmatic.

I've been to a number of excellent museums and historical sites around the world, some of which are truly breathtaking. There is a place for cultural heritage, and indeed if a private enthusiast wants to build a museum I'm all for it. Perhaps the Admiral de Saumarez Trust could invest some money? Their choice of course but I reckon preserving a historic sea vessel would be a far more fitting (and useful) tribute to the Admiral than that giant willy they're planning for Delancey Park!

Nevertheless people are right to ask the question whether public funds will go towards this. OK (as you've pointed out) that may not be the plan at the moment but situations can change and unless we suddenly get an influx of public funds we can't afford to be spending money on this now, or in 5-10 years time. Asterix isn't in the same league as the Mary Rose, that particular artefact is far more substantial and was a key vessel in Henry VIIIs navy. Asterix was hardly Julius Caesars flagship!



Good post and, I am sorry that you find mine irritating; I, in fact, find yours very substantial, clear based and informative, across the Forum, so thank you. I have I like to think an open mind, but do get very cross with what comes across all too frequently as dismissive comments, totally disregarding others' points of view, in particular those who immediately have knee jerks in respect of States funds, which in this case, do not come into the equasion.

As for the Lord Sausmarez and his 'giant willy', due to be erected in the park - I rather liked the old granite obelisk; I doubt that this Trust will further funds to promote or curator for anything that doesn't promote personal history.

I like you, have visited many cultural, World Heritage, preserved sites around the world, Asterix may be small matter in our scheme of things, but on our tiny island, it should count.

I wish you and your family a Very Happy New Year.


Thanks Stiletto, I try my best!

For the record what I found irritating was the needless "lined up, oiled and burning in Murcia" comment and the bigot reference.

Your view is perfectly valid, but the stereotypes weren't.

As long as you accept that having concerns about the use of public funds don't automatically mean cultural ignorance that's fine.

Happy New Year to you too!




Whether or not investing capital into the preservation of a historical relic is the most wise way to use monney depends on whether one views it from a realist, cultural or philosophical perspective.


.....whoa, Bella! Up the meds and take the caps off, maluv.

Looks like you've started the New Year's celebrations a tad early.

Town Dweller


I think it is clear that Ed has never been in a position where he has had to worry if there will be food on the table when he gets home or where the cash will come from to buy a new pair of shoes.

Let Ed enjoy his self-constructed fantasy World, and let us worry about the hidden poor on the Island and how they cope with life on a day to day basis.


Town Dweller

I strongly suggest that you visit the "Bargain hunters find only a few town shops open" page- you'll have a nice surprise !


I wouldn't be inclined to describe those who grumble about the financial implications and lack the ability to appreciate the historical value of ancient artefacts such as these as 'bigots', but as- this word is now becoming rather stale yet nevertheless remains apt when describing those who have pig-headed ness to culture- ignoramuses.

I concur with everything else you say though, Stiletto.



Now Ed, just remind me, how much of YOUR tax money goes into the coffers that are maintaining this fine piece of our heritage...?


Zilch. But even though I am currently tax exempt, I, as an adult, would probably view the situation as I do now, the expensive upkeep notwithstanding.

It ultimately depends whether you key concern is erasing the parochial nature of islanders or pecuniary matters.


The History of the Asterix was that it was lying on the seabed and thats where it should have remained with many other ships and boats perished with their crew.

Its find was recorded and dated and is now in the history book for people with maritime interest to research further.

I am interested in maritime history after spending many years working at sea.I am appauled with researchers bringing up relics from the Titanic for profiteering from history.


Very interesting perspective Islander, particularly as someone familiar with the sea.

I take your point about the Titanic and of course there's the issue of war graves. I think a degree of common sense needs to be applied here though as we look to balance historical interest with appropriate respect.

Naturally opinions will differ where the line is but in this case we don't actually know if anyone perished when the boat went down, and even if they did it's so long ago that any descendants will have long forgotten.


Of course the issue of war graves is unlikely to apply here as Asterix was a trading ship.


what about all the things that are of historical interest from the occupation that are being preserved wiil they all become loads of old junk in years to come.



When the last 'true' war time generation of islanders are no longer with us, the remnants of occupation will sadly also dwindle accordingly; a few modern day stalwarts will continue to work tirelesly to preserve some, mostly for the benefit of our ever decreasing 'specialist holiday' arena - tourist groups, who come here to wallow in wartime memorabilia, without any real knowledge of the hardship encountered by those who lived through and,survived the Occupation, before hopping on the ferry to visit Normandy.

I celebrate Liberation Day for what it represents, I am a traditionalist,and very much enjoy being at the Town Church service, following which we put on a large family lunch at home. We are very fortunate to have 3 very respected and loved senior family members at our table, the stories that unfold, oft repeated, but that doesn't matter are those you don't find in the many books published.


Wise and intelligent comments there Stiletto, especially that concluding sentence- first-hand knowledge of those events/circumstances are becoming as a rare as the relic that some wish to be preserved and thus must be thoroughly appreciated. Perhaps one ought to record on paper or tape the stories told by these aged experts.


I for one would offer the pieces a place for free in my wood burning stove. Should give my family a good weeks warmth. Better warming a poor family then spending money on storing it.


Looks like a load of old futtocks to me.


PLP Yes Asterix was a trading ship which sank in st peter port harbour mouth and surprised it was not salvaged in such shallow waters.

Now that it has be raised and confusion where to site it permantly maybe with EDs knowledgable interest of sailing the seas of Antiquity he can therfore go back to his roman history to find what we were importing from afar.

As we are part of the UK its best that the remains of the Asterix be placed in one of their maritime museum


Sorry islander

Although I display an interest in Antiquity I, in fact, am deficient of extensive knowledge on Roman sea-faring enterprises. I do know,however, Cornet Rock acted as a temporary rest point for Roman merchants who would then travel to mainland 'Britannia' shortly thereafter.


Islander - In response to your first comment, maybe the Romans didn't think it was worth saving? Perhaps we could learn something from them? (Said with a little tongue in cheek!!)

I'll leave constitutional matters out of it (we're not part of the UK) but I agree with you. Even leaving the issue of money aside for a moment, surely the preservation of historic vessels is a very specialised and delicate business? Do we have locally based experts in marine preservation? My understanding is that Asterix is currently being looked after in the UK by the Mary Rose Trust who are specialists in this area. Best perhaps to leave it in their specialist facilities and care.

There is also the matter of cost, which I think remains the biggest concern among islanders. Have the ongoing maintenance costs been considered? The more I think about it the more I fear the taxpayer will eventually be asked to contribute to the maintenance of the wreck....and once it's here I suspect it will be difficult for them to say no.

As a final comment, and perhaps a bit petty of me, but the headline for this article doesn't help in debate. Talk of bringing Asterix "home" to Guernsey is misleading. If Eds history is correct it was probably just stopping off for a rest and restock of vittles. It is extremely unlikely the boat was built here, owned locally or crewed locally - it's only real link to the island is that it sunk here. No link at all really, as that's a bit like saying British ships sunk in the Battle of Trafalgar are Spanish - a suggestion I'll wager would make Lord Nelson turn in his grave!


Er... As you like your history PLP can I just remind you there were no British ships lost at Trafalgar. Bit smashed up but only Franco-Spanish ships sunk.

On the matter of Asterix you will be suggesting the British Museum give back the Elgin Marbles next if origin is everything. What a thought!


Oops - Epic History Fail....what a way to start the New Year!


The Elgin marbles were stolen from Greece by the good ol' British Empire. They SHOULD be handed back together with a fulsome apology.



You warrant commendation for your first comment due to your ability to display historical wisdom- your assessing whether the wreck merits preservation by thinking in manner that a Roman perhaps would have thought when they encountered such a quandary. Yet is essential to ensure that this manner of thought is not applied to frequently, otherwise that would afford one the excuse to discard any antiquities that no longer appear to possess substantial historical value.


By the way, happy New Year to all This is Guernsey contributors ! Here's to another year of debate and discussion- further articles to express feelings/views towards and, hopefully, some newcomers who will enrich the debating environment further.


(Magnus) Elgin Marbles? Does anyone still play the game?


I personally don't see the financial benefit of turning Oatlands into a museum. This should be at Castle Cornet if anywhere.


Surely the only financial benefits are to those who will charge for entrance to see the timbers!

Island Wide Voting

'... to see the timbers', which raises a point I have been struggling with for a while

Will the finished article in anyway be made up to resemble the shape of a boat or just a pile of old bits of wood, in which case they will have to pay me to go and see it


Shiver me timbers!

Capt. Pugwash

IWV, I doubt it will be made up like a boat. The timbers are almost totally from the bottom of the vessel and I believe the upper works would be just a guess. It will, I understand, require an environmentally controlled room in which to store it, not really a cheap option and I would guess the payback to Mr. K. K. will be very limited. Better to donate it to a properly set up maritime museum in the UK.


I'm not surprised by some of the comments on this post. Martino and PLP e.t.c are not interested in Guernsey's heritage.

The reason this important part of our history can't be placed at the old slaughterhouse is that it is too big.

We should find a place for Asterix here in Guernsey.

Island Dweller we are not part of the U.K. how many times has this got to be pointed out?

I'm fed up listening to all and sundry saying how unique Guernsey is and how we should protect our identity then ,If it costs money, give part of our identity back to the U.K.

You lot are absolutley priceless!

By your reasoning there would be no British Museum.

Shame on the lot of you!


Sorry Kevin but with all due respect your post makes no sense at all, probably because you are jumping to conclusions without actually reading what people are saying.

Not interested in Guernseys heritage? Bunkum. Most people here value Guernseys heritage but we also live in the real world. In that world cuts to frontline services are being talked about, so we need to prioritise. I feel no shame whatsoever thinking it is more important that our children have the best possible education, healthcare and living environment possible before we start thinking about paying a fortune to display some timber from a Roman wreck that would be far safer in the UK.

Although Stiletto has pointed out there are no plans to use public funds I'm afraid I don't buy that for long....eventually we will be asked to dip into our pockets - it's an expensive business preserving artefacts like this. Where would the money come from? Culture and Leisure (the Department this falls under) are already talking about outsourcing Beau Sejour (a key cultural health and leisure facility) so where on earth they propose we find the money to support this I don't know.

As for "giving part of our identity back to the UK" - well that's a matter of opinion, not to mention double standards on your part. You're quite happy for artefacts from other nations to be displayed in the British Museum (so am I actually) but not one from Guernsey? That borders on hypocrisy. Besides in my opinion Asterix is not a significant part of our local identity anyway, it is a Roman trading ship that just happened to sink outside our harbour. That said, in an ideal world it would be good to have the relic here if either (a) our public purse was a bit fatter or (b) it is supported with ongoing private investment.


You've said it all for me PLP. The only thing I would add is that there is a kind of 'emperor's new clothes' thing going on with this particular pile of old rot. The heritage lobby has managed to convince gullible folk like kevin that this is the greatest thing since King Tut's tomb whereas it is nothing of the sort. Most of us can see it for what it is and on a local heritage scale of 1 to 10 it is a 1 at best where Castle Cornet would rank as a 10.



Further to PLP's idea that you have jumped to conclusions to quickly is the fact-I am sure it's a fact because your ideas apply to all participators- have evidently overlooked my discussions. If they're not suggestive of an interest in our nautical past then then I advise that you write something that expresses the immense interest that you claim to possess.

You need to take back your comment that we all ought to feel 'shame' and that all contributors are 'absolutely priceless' and peruse ALL the posts.



You claim that the 'Asterix' is too big for the Slaughterhouse site, yet having looked at the plans for the Oatlands 'Maritime Museum', I see that it is 28m x 11m, whilst the Slaughterhouse site overall is 95m x 16m. I think your reasoning has gone 'off course' slightly.

Maybe the wreck has shrunk because of its prolonged exposure to water? ;-)


The Asterix is little value to me.Not for its history but for the name given to it.The true name will never be discovered.

All ships and boats were named,blessed for safe passage when launched throughout history.

Yes preserve the timbers of an un-named vessel found in our waters but do not add a name that Guernsey has given for its own heritage rights


Lets hope that Mike O'Hara did a better job of looking at these plans than he clearly did of the skatepark!

Island Wide voting


Are you saying it might be too close to the Corbet field?