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How tall were the crew of the Mary Rose?

Were people “much shorter in those days”?

There’s a popular myth that people were considerably smaller in the past, varying from being about a foot shorter than the modern average to practically hobbit-sized!

The average height of the crew of the Mary Rose seems to have been 5’7 (170cm) (about the same as Mark “little short for a stormtrooper” Hamill), which isn’t far off the modern UK male average of 5’9 (175cm). Indeed, one of our archers, who we’ve had reconstructed in the museum, was 5’9 (175cm) (the same as Johnny Depp), and wasn’t even the tallest, who was 5’11 (180cm) (the same as Taylor Swift).

The shortest adult was 5’3, which while it is quite short (about the same as Scarlett Johansson), isn’t much shorter than people get today.

Often the low height of door frames and ships’ beams give the impression that the people of the time were shorter, but this is often less to do with the people, and more to do with practical purposes. Smaller doors let less heat out; while a ship carrying guns that weigh over three tonnes need a lot of support for the decks. The people of the past probably banged their heads just as often as we would!

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