The Mary Rose was built between 1509 and 15 11 and was a highly successful warship until she capsized and sank in the Solent in July 1545. In 1982, after many years of painstalung search and investigation, the Mary Rose was recovered from the sea bed with an unprecedented amount of interest and support from the public. This event significantly raised the profile of maritime archaeology in the UK and the resulting interest has inspired new generations in the historical aspects of the subject of this conference
Whilst much of this conference concentrates on the recovery of larger objects from deeper waters, this paper will give some indication of the problems associated with raising a fragile structure which also has great archaeological and historical importance By describing some of the aspects of the salvage programme from the perspective of one of the archaeological divers involved with the raising of the Mary Rose, it is hoped that the paper will also illustrate how important it is to integrate the skills and knowledge from the fields of both salvage and archaeology.
The Mary Rose was built in Portsmouth between 1509 and 1511 and served in Henry VIII's Navy for 34 years before sinking in the Solent on July 19th 1545 Soon after contemporary salvage attempts faded and she was abandoned Although a number of items including guns were recovered during these attempts and again in the 1830's when the pioneer helmet divers John and Charles Dean carried out some further salvage, she was otherwise left alone until 1965 when Alexander McKee initiated the modem attempts to find her HIS ‘Project Solent Ships’ aimed to investigate a number of the historic wrecks in the Solent and from 1966 remote sensing techniques were used to augment the diver searches in the area where he suspected that the Mary Rose lay buried In 1967 and 1968 (The Figures are available in full paper)
a combination of sidescan sonar and sub-bottom profiler was tried and this recorded an anomaly that led to the identification of the site. This vital work was carried out by Professor Harold Edgerton of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and John Mills and was a great encouragement for the diving team. It also stimulated the formation of The Mary Rose (1967) Committee to co-ordinate work on the site although, since the ship was still buried, a great deal more patient work was needed before the timbers could be seen.
In 1971 divers caught their first glimpse of a few frames of the ship Gradually over the next seven years, the outline of the hull was revealed as they excavated around the ship to expose the structure Excavation w as purposefully confined to areas outside the hull until a clear picture was obtained of how the ship was lying on the sea bed.