Treasures from the sea

Shipwrecks


By Devika Cariapa - Deccan Herald


After she sank, Mary Rose would have remained forgotten at the bottom of the ocean if not for the wonders of Underwater Archaeology.

Recently, the world comme­morated a hundred years since the sinking of the ‘unsinkable’ RMS Titanic.

Almost four centuries earlier, on July 19, 1545, another ‘unsinkable’ ship sank off the coast of England: Mary Rose was Henry VIII’s (he of the six wives) favourite, state-of-the-art, fully armed and loaded warship – a veteran of 33 years of fierce sea battles, manned with a battle-hardened crew.

After she sank, Mary Rose would have remained forgotten and quietly decayed at the bottom of the ocean if it wasn’t for the wonders of Underwater Archaeology.

Underwater archaeology deals with remains from the past that are submerged under lakes, rivers and oceans. This means that in addition to being an archaeologist, you have to be an ace diver as well since excavations take place only underwater !

It is painstaking work but these archaeologists are often lucky since underwater conditions sometimes preserve artefacts and structures. So it was with Mary Rose.

Mary Rose was built in Portsmouth, England between 1509 and 1511. She was named after Henry’s sister, Mary, and the symbol of the Tudor House, the Rose.

She was among the finest warships to be built with specially designed gunports armed with huge bronze and iron cannons. She must have cut a dashing sight racing along the water with her special gilded flags and banners. With her handpicked crew, she was a lethal fighting machine.

She was the flagship of the English Navy for 33 years. She was responsible for destroying many French vessels and had carried Henry’s armies into several battles.


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Mary Rose Solent Henry VIII's navy battleships Portsmouth's historic dockyard Tudor life