Plans Underway For Summer Dive At Mary Rose Wreck Site

By David Prudames | 24 June 2003
Shows a photograph of timbers from the Mary Rose being conserved.

Photo: the Tudor flagship's timbers are currently on display at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

Plans are underway to conduct a series of archaeological dives at the wreck site of the Mary Rose during this summer.

Funding permitting, the Mary Rose Trust hopes to recover archaeological material, which may include timber and parts of guns, and excavate the ‘footprint’ left by the ship's hull.

Built between 1509 and 1511, the Mary Rose was an innovative and hugely impressive member of Henry VIII's navy. The vessel was raised from the sea bed in 1982 and is currently the only sixteenth century warship on display anywhere in the world.

Speaking to the 24 Hour Museum the Trust's Jacquie Shaw explained why it is important to continue to send teams of archaeologists down to the wreck site.

Shows an artist's impression of how the Mary Rose would have looked.

Image: one of Henry VIII's favourite ships, the Mary Rose was one of the first vessels able to fire a broadside.

"I think the important thing is that the excavation of the Mary Rose is still happening. We don't know everything about it and we have to remind people of how important it really is."

A state of the art remote sensing survey was conducted at the site on June 20 and it is hoped the results, when processed, will help form an accurate image of the Solent sea bed.

"When we originally excavated we used equipment like this, but the difference is 30 years in advancement of technology," added Jacquie. "Think of what computers looked like 30 years ago and imagine how the equipment has changed."

The fieldwork is expected to take place between late July and early August and will include clearing the site of debris and recovering material reburied for storage during digs in the 1980s.

"We don't know what's underneath the sea bed and short of excavating the site we can't really understand it. We are fairly confident that there are guns under there, but we don't know what we're going to find."

Shows an underwater photograph of a diver exploring the wreck of the Mary Rose.

Photo: the rediscovery and raising of the Mary Rose are now seen as seminal events in the history of nautical archaeology. All images courtesy of the Mary Rose Trust.

It is thought that excavation of the area where the hull sat for almost 450 years will reveal cables used by the Tudors to try and lift the ship after it sank in 1545.

The conservation of the historic vessel is currently entering its second funding phase and while the trust has been awarded a grant of £4.1 million by the Heritage Lottery Fund, it needs to raise matching funds of £1 million.

As Jacquie Shaw explained, the Trust is very excited about the proposed series of dives and hopes they will help raise money by reigniting the public imagination.

"When you've got to match funding to the tune of £1 million, how do you get people involved? You demonstrate what there is still left to learn."

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