The Mary Rose's artefacts give us a unique insight into Tudor life

Mary Rose

By Dr Eric Kentley - Times Online

Launched as the flagship of a young and ambitious king, the Mary Rose was not only a reflection of Henry VIII’s ambitions, she was also a new breed of warship.

She was one of England’s first ships to be built with gunports: part of the first generation of broadside-firing warships that heralded the beginnings of a 300-year period of warship design.

But the Mary Rose is important not only to maritime historians. It is also what she took with her to the bottom of the Solent in 1545 that gives her a special significance.

These were the possessions and tools of 500 men from all levels of society. The 19,000 artefacts that have been recovered range from gunners’ linstocks to gambling dice, from a bosun’s call to a rosary.

There is no comparable collection of Tudor artifacts anywhere: no other archaeological site has given us so many insights into Tudor life.

No other shipwreck, no other structure and no other collection gives such a clear window into the 16th century. It is no exaggeration to describe the Mary Rose as England’s Pompeii. 

Her loss at a precise moment gives us a chronological reference point for all the artefacts that went down with her. This is almost unique for a museum collection.

Specialists from many fields consistently remark how the Mary Rose artifacts they have studied represent the earliest known examples of their type or provide unique information for the study of human society.

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