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Just what did raising the Mary Rose tell us?

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Trinity
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« on: October 15, 2007, 08:18:04 pm »

Just what did the Mary Rose tell us? 
By Finlo Rohrer
BBC News Magazine 


 
The raising of the Mary Rose in 1982 was greeted with feverish excitement, but what has this landmark find actually told us in the 25 years since?

At the tail end of 1982 it seemed like you couldn't switch on Newsround without seeing something to do with Mary Rose.

Our fascination with the ship that met a sticky end while firing at a French invasion fleet in 1545 has flared at times in the years since. It is almost a rite of passage for some school children to go and see this emblem of the Tudor age.

But as significant as the ship itself are the artefacts that were recovered (both from within and from the sea bed), providing an insight into the life of the Tudors; proving and disproving countless strands of conjecture about the period.

Historian David Starkey has described the Mary Rose as "this country's Pompeii, preserved by water not by fire". Unlike most archaeological sites it has not been significantly interfered with by subsequent generations.



 
The ship may have looked a little like this reconstruction
"It is a time capsule, literally frozen in time from the day she sank in 1545," explains Rear Admiral John Lippiett, chief executive of the Mary Rose Trust. "It has given us an insight into Tudor life that was unachievable."

Items recovered from the wreck have given alarming insights into the world of Tudor medicine. Looking at a urethral syringe that would have been loaded with mercury, one might wince. But this would have been used to treat syphilis in the sailors. We know now, of course, that mercury is a poison.

As well as the artefacts, the bodies recovered from the wreck have shown the state of health of some Tudor males. The average height of the sailors was 5ft 7ins, not perhaps as short as some might have supposed.

To Captain Christopher Page, head of the Naval Historical Branch, this is perhaps the most startling discovery.

"I'm a historian of the First World War and the average height of a soldier in that conflict was in the order of 5ft 6ins." Compared with their counterparts 350 years later, "the men in the Mary Rose were bigger, stronger and fitter," says Capt Page.

 


On This Day: Mary Rose rises after 437 years 
"In some respects the men who manned the Mary Rose were an elite, but this also perhaps tells you something about changes in society. By the late 19th/early 20th Century, we were more urbanised and the diet wasn't as good."

Of those on board, 25% had no significant tooth decay, leading Admiral Lippiett to suggest the "shape of their teeth was far better than in today's society".

Navigational objects on the ship forced archaeologists to reconsider their take on Tudor technology. A gimbals compass, which will rotate on two axes so it remains horizontal whatever the movement of the ship, was thought to be an object of the 17th Century. But three were recovered from the Mary Rose.

Of the military finds, Capt Page is most struck by the longbows on board - measuring "in the order of 6ft".

"I had it in my own mind that longbows had been phased out by then. There were so few in existence, from the era before the Mary Rose, you realise these were extremely powerful weapons and required great strength and specialism to use them."

A still shawm, a precursor of the modern oboe, was also found on the ship. Something that had been written about in accounts of the time could now be reconstructed and played. It sounds rather like a kazoo.

 


Raised from the seas, 11 October 1982
Objects like clothes, shoes, wooden bowls and cups are the kind of things that are not always found in digs from the period.

The recovery of the ship has also allowed the story of the its demise to be fleshed out, Admiral Lippiett says.

The Mary Rose, effectively the Royal Navy's first dedicated warship, was firing guns on the starboard side, with 200 soldiers in heavy armour on its deck, in gathering winds, probably trying to alter course to fire its stern guns at the French ships. Its open gun ports allowed the water in.

Work done on the ship has also helped to refine conservation techniques first used on the Swedish ship Vasa in Stockholm. Wood is sprayed with cold water and polyethylene gycol. In 2011 the spraying will stop and the ship will be "baked". It will then be able to be viewed without glass.

"It will be as solid as the oak floor I'm standing on," says Admiral Lippiett.

 
« Last Edit: October 15, 2007, 08:27:45 pm by Trinity » Report Spam   Logged

Trinity
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« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2007, 08:19:16 pm »



Three years after it was raised, the Mary Rose in dry dock
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Trinity
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« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2007, 08:22:58 pm »



1982: Mary Rose rises after 437 years

The Mary Rose, flagship of King Henry VIII, has been raised to the surface after 437 years at the bottom of the Solent.
The long-anticipated 4 million operation, twice postponed, was beset by technical problems with the complicated salvaging apparatus and floating cradle.

But the ship's skeletal remains of mud-caked timber were in the end successfully re-floated and experts can now begin the long process of restoring the Mary Rose in a dry dock in Portsmouth.

A flotilla of boats had gathered off Portsmouth on the south coast of England to witness the occasion.

With the ship already suspended underneath a lifting frame, today's work required raising the wreck in a specially crafted air-cushioned cradle.

Historic moment

Lifting of the wreck from its location at 50 feet below sea level began at 0700 local time and within two hours the first jagged edges of timber had broken the surface.

A cannon was fired from the ramparts of Southsea Castle to signal the historic moment.

Yet just before midday one of the pins holding the lifting frame sheared, a steel line snapped and part of the 80 tonne frame smashed down on the hull.

Speaking after the accident, Prince Charles, President of the Mary Rose Trust, and a seasoned diver at the wreck spoke of his shock:

"I was slightly horrified but I thought the best thing to do was to be British and not panic."

Inspections showed the damage to be slight, but further mishaps meant the wreck was not safely installed onto its transport barge until 1500.

Margaret Rule, archaeological director of the privately-sponsored project said the raising of the "fascinating and rare Tudor artefact" was the culmination of a "dream that had gripped the imagination of the world".

The Mary Rose was rediscovered in 1966 by Alexander McKee, a historian and amateur diver.

Since then over 10,000 well-preserved items have been excavated including weapons, clothes and even a backgammon set.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/october/11/newsid_2531000/2531561.stm
« Last Edit: October 15, 2007, 08:26:28 pm by Trinity » Report Spam   Logged
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« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2007, 08:24:18 pm »



The collapse of the frame nearly scuppered the 4 million operation


 
In Context
Launched in 1510, the Mary Rose sank on its way to engage the French enemy fleet off Portsmouth Sound in 1545.
Most marine historians believe her sinking was simply the result of a handling error. At the time the French assumed it was their cannons. Between four and five hundred men perished.

She is unique as a transitional ship between mediaeval "floating castles" and Elizabeth I's navy galleons.

19th century Royal Engineers blew up part of the Mary Rose as a "hazard to shipping". In 1980 RE divers began helping to raise the wreck to "atone" for their predecessors' work.

The Mary Rose now forms part of a museum at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

 
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