Experts have grappled with the question of the Anthony Roll’s accuracy and reliability when applying it to reality as it is doubtful the ships were drawn from life. However, it has still played a vital role as a reference for divers and historians when identifying the Mary Rose and its equipment. Upon the excavation by the Mary Rose Trust in the 20th century, six bronze guns were recovered. When combined with four salvaged from the 1800s over 60% of the recorded 15 bronze guns were retrieved. This document provided not only a guide for what should be and was there but also for what shouldn’t or wasn’t.
The document itself, spanning more than 15 yards in total, holds its own interesting story outside the illustrations. Exactly a century after the Anthony Roll was given to Henry VIII it was handed over to Samuel Pepys (yes, the one with the diaries) by King Charles II. Pepys redesigned the rolls by cutting them up into volumes and after his death in 1703 they were passed to Magdalene College in Cambridge. Two of them still reside there now, safely stored within the appropriately named Pepys Library. However, the exact location of the second segment was unknown until the mid 1800s; it is now part of the British Museum’s Collection.
Those familiar with this image of the Mary Rose may note slight differences between the terminology, colour and artistic styles when comparing it to other ships within the roll . Nonetheless, what remains the same is the importance this document has played in many aspects of the Mary Rose’s story.