Museum to show Mary Rose sailors' remains

Human bones and Tudor artefacts are to go on display for the first time

More than 450 years after they drowned in a battle with a French invasion force, the remains of 90 crew members of the Mary Rose warship are to be put on public display.

Alexandra Hildred, a curator at the the Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth, said discussions are underway to mount a major exhibition in which objects found on the ship will be showcased next to their original owners.

On 19 July 1545, the Mary Rose, the flagship of Vice-Admiral Sir George Carew, set out from Portsmouth, along with some 80 other English vessels, to confront a fleet of 225 ships, carrying 30,000 soldiers, sent by King Francis I of France to attempt an invasion.

She sank with the loss of more than 400 lives, in circumstances which remain unclear to this day. A dismayed King Henry VIII watched the battle from onshore, in Southsea Castle.

The underwater wreck was discovered in 1836 by a fisherman in the Solent. It became an officially protected site in 1974, and was excavated in 1982. Only 1,000 objects have so far been seen by the public, from a stock of 19,000 underwater finds. This is about to change, at the renovated museum in Portmouth's Historic Dockyard zone.

The project is due to be completed by 2010, depending on a further £4m of funding being secured. "We are discussing the possibility of displaying human remains next to the objects," Ms Hildred said. Another option is to have the human remains in a separate area, to be viewed by appointment only.

None of the remains have been seen before, except for two skulls shown earlier this year. "Displaying bones is something that causes huge controversy," Ms Hildred acknowledged. "We have not yet decided how we will do it."

The previously unseen relics include Europe's oldest fiddle and bow, a beautifully preserved leather "man bag" (the height of Tudor fashion), a giant wooden spoon used to stir the crew's porridge pot, arrows, longbows and backgammon boards.

Rear Admiral John Lippiett, chief executive of the Mary Rose Trust, said: "The importance of these Tudor artefacts, many of which we have never had the space to put on public display, cannot be over-estimated. Nowhere else is a single moment in Tudor life captured as it is with the Mary Rose."

An anatomical curiosity, the os acromiale, is common in skeletons recovered from the Mary Rose. It is a separate, unfused shoulder bone thought to result from heavy archery practice from childhood. The late medieval war bow required such a strong pull that it prevented fusing of the bone. The museum project has already received £21m of heritage lottery funding and has raised £14m, but needs £4m to complete the project.

Historical explanations for the loss of the Mary Rose include any combination of: unfavourable winds; an incompetent crew; a strike from a French cannon ball (later masked by political spin); or her top-heavy load as she carried 185 armour-clad soldiers on her upper decks. Only 35 men survived.

See www.maryrose500.org for more information on the fundraising project

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - Midlands

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - 3-4 Month Fixed Contract - £30-£35k pro rata

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a 3-4 month pro rata fi...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £26,000+

£16000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Telesales Executive is requir...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map