How did a coconut find its way onto the Mary Rose wrecksite? | The Mary Rose
How did a coconut find its way onto the Mary Rose wrecksite?
Collections | 24 Mar, 2020 | Museum Blogger
Things found on the wreck site that aren’t off the Mary Rose

One of the more unexpected objects found on the Mary Rose wreck site is a Coconut, which may or may not have been on the Mary Rose. It was found in the scour pit caused by the ship on the seabed, but the layer of mud it was found it was not recorded, so we have no contextual evidence for its presence on the ship.

Coconut cup from the Mary Rose wreck site

Coconut cups were drinking vessels used for toasting the good health of those who drank from them. They are known from the 15th Century onwards, but the known examples tend to be mounted in silver frameworks. This one is quite rough, the top half appearing to have been roughly cut off, and has no sign of markings where a framework would have been.

The Solent is a busy stretch of water, so it’s not unexpected to find objects on the sea bed, and many of them have found their way to the Mary Rose wreck site. As well as various bottles, tin cans and plastic objects we found a number of historical items.  A large number of clay pipes, one featuring the likeness of a Turk’s head, were recovered; although Tobacco had entered Europe as early as 1528, these are clearly of later origin – the Turk’s head one is common from around 1840. We also found a chamber pot, marked as belonging to the Canadian Steam Navigation Company. The year 1853, printed on the front, is a big clue to when this was made!

Domino recovered from the Mary Rose wreck siteAnother item recovered was a bone domino, found above the Upper Deck. Dominoes as a game was known in Tudor England –the Privy Papers and Expenses of Henry VIII show that in 1540 the king lost £450 in games of dominoes at Greenwich and Whitehall – but the style of this isolated piece is more like those of the 17th century. This, along with the lack of stratification suggests that unlike many of the objects recovered from the Mary Rose, this isn’t the first of its kind, and is just a lost item from a later time

Does this cast doubt on other ‘firsts’ on the Mary Rose? Not really. All of our more unique artefacts were found in secure strata, or layers of mud covering the ship alongside other more usual and well known Tudor artefacts.  The younger strata above the ship are mostly intact, apart from the area where John Deane excavated in the 1830s, so we’re sure it’s all in context.

So, were the crew of the Mary Rose sipping Pina Coladas, or was it simply dropped on the site by a migrating swallow? We’ll probably never know.