The Mary Rose - Tudor Flagship and archaeological gold-mine

The Mary Rose is a 16th century Tudor warship which was raised from the seabed in October 1982 and is now on display in Portsmouth Dockyard

The Mary Rose was commissioned by Henry VIII and was built between 1509 and 1511. She was built in Portsmouth using a new method of ship-building which allowed water-tight gun-ports to be fitted near the water level thereby giving the ship much more stability when firing heavy guns. She had a long and successful career as the flagship of the English fleet fighting campaigns against the French and the Scots, until she mysteriously sank in front of the watching King while waiting to do battle with the French at the mouth of Portsmouth Harbour. The date was 19th July 1545.

The Mary Rose settled on her side on the sea bed and became partially submerged in silt. The upper half of the ship rotted away but the rest was preserved in the anaerobic atmosphere of the mud and was rediscovered in 1965. Over the years the ship was surveyed and the many artifacts were documented and removed. The hull itself was finally brought up 17 years later in 1982, and after many years of treatment with preservatives can now be seen in dry dock possibly only yards from where she was originally built.

Over 14,000 tudor artifacts from the ship have been documented. These include bronze and iron guns, cannons and shot, 137 longbows and arrows, personal items such as leather shoes and clothing (one scrap of which includes a flea), combs, tools of various tradesmen including those of the carpenter and barber-surgeon, and there is even a pot of ointment which still bears a fingerprint on the surface of the medicine.

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