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The Mary Rose Trust supports a wide range of research initiatives to further our understanding of the ship, artefacts, environmental and human remains resulting from the underwater excavation.

Much of this is aimed at identification of material composition in order to choose the best method of conservation, but looking at the efficacy of different methods of analysis and conservation is also undertaken. We also have the responsibility for the site of the Mary Rose, and research including surveying, monitoring and preserving objects  and structure in situ is ongoing.

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Scientific research is completed on many materials in the collection using a variety of sophisticated measurement techniques, which are selected based on the question we are trying to answer.

Finding suitable research partners and determining appropriate suites of analysis is crucial for us to understand the materials. This understanding will enable us to care for and successfully preserve our collection for years to come.

Research into what things are made of is just one element of our research; how things worked is another.  Often this is undertaken by making reproductions of artefacts and trying to use them. This ‘experimental archaeology’ is another branch of research. Significant projects include musical instruments, weapons, cooking, and elements of the ships structure.

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Experimental archaeology

Deep in the hold of the ship we found the ship’s kitchen.  It consisted of two large copper cauldrons each set into a four-sided oven made of bricks.  This ‘galley’ was recorded and taken apart underwater. Material analysis was undertaken on the cauldron, bricks and mortar and a reconstruction was made.  Using this, together with the tools found around the ovens, has enabled us to understand how it functioned.

A lot of the research we have undertaken is summarised in a series of books

The Archaeology of the Mary Rose

  • Marsden, Peter. (2003) Sealed by Time: The Loss and Recovery of the Mary Rose. Mary Rose Trust: United Kingdom.
  • Marsden, Peter. (2009) Your Noblest Shippe: Anatomy of a Tudor Warship, Mary Rose Trust: United Kingdom.
  • Hildred Alexzandra. (2011) Weapons of Warre: The Armaments of the Mary Rose. Mary Rose Trust: United Kingdom.
  • Gardiner, J. (2005) Before the Mast: Life and Death Aboard the Mary Rose, Mary Rose Trust: United Kingdom.
  • Jones, Mark. (2011) For Future Generations: Conservation of a Tudor Maritime Collection Mary Rose Trust: United Kingdom.

Recommended additional reading:

  • Childs, David. (2007) The Warship Mary Rose: The Life and Times of King Henry VIII’s Flagship. Greenhill Books: United Kingdom.
  • Hildred, Alexzandra (2022). Mary Rose. Her Story. Their Story.  Our Story. History, Mary Mary Rose Trust: United Kingdom
  •  Knighton, C.S and Loades, D. (2022) Letters from the Mary Rose: Cheltenham: The History Press
  • Stirland, A.J.(2000) Raising the Dead. The Skeleton Crew of Henry VIII’s Great Ship, the Mary Rose. Chichester: John Wiley and Sons Ltd.