They sought out the very latest techniques, approaching the leading institutions and companies for advice, expertise and equipment. The standards used at the site have been second to none.
The Mary Rose wreck site was one of the first underwater sites in England to be archaeologically excavated by a team of professionals. It was probably the only site to have been excavated by open area excavation rather than by discreet trenches. It was also the first underwater project in England to have a full-time team on shore to record and analyse all the finds.
The wealth of objects found on the Mary Rose also helps to date similar objects found on other sites, either by sight or by detailed chemical, biochemical and molecular analysis.
The work at the Mary Rose site has also been instrumental in developing ‘experimental archaeology’, whereby experts try and recreate activities such as manufacturing or cooking from the past. Examples include shipwrightry, cooking, gun manufacture and the production of shot. Historians have also recreated the manufacture of a wide range of domestic and personal possessions, which has enabled them to understand the working methods of artisans in Tudor times.
The team invited specialists from around the world to take part in the excavation, benefiting from their expertise and knowledge. The project necessitated a wide variety of skills, from photography to record the hull and its objects, to surveying and draughtsmanship. We either employed people who had these skills, or trained people in the team to become adept.
The project has achieved a number of ‘firsts’ in the world of archaeology:
It also led to the creation of the Protection of Wrecks Act, and contributed to the HSE Diving Regulations (1981).