Faces of the Mary Rose: Meet the reconstructed crew at the Mary Rose Museum

By Culture24 Reporter | 30 May 2013

The new Mary Rose Museum, which is about to open, is dedicated to the crew who lost their lives when the ship sank on July 19 1545. The faces of nine of the 415 crew members have been recreated by forensic and osto-archaeological experts as part of the displays on board...

Carpenter
A photo of a drawing of a sailor
© Oscar Nilsson facial reconstructions
This is a reconstruction of the face of a man found on the orlop deck, immediately below the Master Carpenter’s cabin. A number of woodworking tools were next to him.

Analysis of his remains shows that he was probably in his mid-to late 30s. He was just over 5 ft 7 inches tall and was a strong, muscular man.

His teeth, alas, were poor, with a build-up of tartar. An abscess in his  upper jaw meant he could only chew on the right side. He also had  arthritis in his spine and ribs. He would have been stationed below deck during battle so that he could repair any damage to the ship immediately.

Cook (named Ny Cop or Ny Coep)
A photo of a drawing of a sailor
© Oscar Nilsson facial reconstructions
This is reconstruction based on the skeleton found closest to the galley. Graffiti found on a nearby bowl or tankard gave away his probably name.

His ladle, comb, knives, shoes, spoon and coins displayed in the museum’s case were also found. The cook’s skeleton is virtually complete, showing a man in his 30s, about 5 ft 6 inches tall, with heavy, strong bones.

His ribs and backbone suggest he spent much of his life bent over during his duties feeding more than 400 men, as well as preparing more elaborate meals for officers, on the lowest level of the ship.

Master Gunner

A photo of a drawing of a sailor
© Oscar Nilsson facial reconstructions
The Master Gunner was 5 ft 7 inches tall, in his late 20s or early 30s.

He had very bad teeth: 11 were missing before he died and most of those left were badly decayed, leaving abscesses in his jaws.

His skeleton reveals that, although he had strong, muscular legs, his neck bones had degenerated and the base of his spine was compacted – possibly the result of years of hauling guns into position and lifting heavy gunpowder chambers, a task which took a team of four or six men.

Stranger and Gentleman
A photo of a drawing of a sailor
© Oscar Nilsson facial reconstructions
In his 20s and standing 5 ft 4 inches tall, this man was trapped behind a chest and, judging by his spine, may have been a gunner.

He was used to lifting heavy objects, and the gun beside him was being reloaded as the ship sank.

He also had features in his shoulder blades often found in archers, and a longbow and arrows were also found near his body.

Archer
A photo of a drawing of a sailor
© Oscar Nilsson facial reconstructions
Taller than many of the crew and well-built with particularly strong legs, the archer was in his early 20s and about 5 ft 10 inches tall.

The middle of his spine is twisted – a feature often seen on skeletons found with archery equipment.

One of his right finger bones has grooves on the inside, forming a ridge. This could have been made by repeatedly pulling a longbow string.

Purser
A photo of a drawing of a sailor
© Oscar Nilsson facial reconstructions
A robust, strong and muscular man with good teeth and an old head wound which had healed, the purser was in his 30s and about 5 ft 7 inches tall.

The top of his leg bones and his hip joints are flat, so he must have walked with a rolling gait and would not have been able to straighten his back.

With this physique, he could not have been an active member of the crew, again suggesting that he was the Purser.

Officer
A photo of a drawing of a sailor
© Oscar Nilsson facial reconstructions
This officer was in his late 30s or early 40s, standing 5 ft 4 inches tall.

Like many others he had bad teeth, with decay, tartar and abscesses, especially of the molars.

His bones indicate manual work at an early age. But he was found with a silver call – a whistle. Officers carried a call to give orders, because it could be heard clearly around the deck.

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