• The Mary Rose
  • Plan your visit
  • What's on
  • Learning
  • Venue hire
  • Collections & research
  • Support us
  • Shop
  • About the Trust
  • Contact us
Glossary

Some of the technical terms used when describing the Mary Rose and her objects.

a
Aft

Towards the stern

b
Ballast

A quantity of gravel to provide weight in the bottom of the vessel so as to increase stability and lower the centre of gravity

Beam

(a) timber – a transverse timber that crossed the ship and supported a deck, and helped to brace the hull
(b) measurement – the greatest breadth of the ship

Bilge

The lowest part of the interior of the ship

Blinds

Known as ‘pavesses’ in the sixteenth century, these were rectangular boards that were fastened along the top of the ship’s side in the waist. They are believed to have been removable shields providing gaps through which archers shot arrows

Block

A contrivance used with rope (tackle) in a ship’s rigging. It comprises a shell that supports a sheave or roller over which a rope is run. Blocks occur in a great variety of shapes and size depending upon their use

Bolts

Substantial iron fastenings attaching major structures in the ship, such as the keel, frames and keelson

Bonaventure mizzen mast

The small mizzen mast situated furthest aft in the Mary Rose

Bow

The front of the vessel

(The Pointy End)

Breech Block

 The metal cartridge of a breech-loading gun in which the gunpowder charge is placed and fired

c
Capstan

A vertical cylindrical device on a deck used for winding cable, so as to heave anchors, hoist yards and undertake other heavy work

Carvel built

Edge-to-edge outer planking giving a smooth-sided hull

Castle deck

The lower sterncastle deck of the Mary Rose, part of which was found

Caulking

The wadding that has been driven or placed in the seam between any timbers of the hull or deck to make the vessel watertight

Chain wale

The thick strake in the side of the ship to which the chain plates were attached

Clinker Built

A method of planking the hull of a vessel in which the lower edge of one strake overlaps the upper edge of the strake below and is made watertight with a caulking. It does not apply to the overlapping weatherboarding of the Sterncastle of the Mary Rose

Companionway

A staircase or ladder giving access between decks

Compartments

Spaces between the partitioned areas of the ship

d
Dale

A timber trough to carry water out of the ship

Deadeye

A rounded block of wood with a groove around the edge for either the iron strap of a chain plate or the lower end of a rope shroud. It also has several holes through it for the rope lanyard. Deadeyes act in pairs, the lower one attached to the chain plate and the upper one attached to the shroud

Decorative panel

One of a series of carved panels with elaborately shaped openings, from the ship’s side in the castles

f
Forecastle

The raised castle at the forward end of the ship, sometimes termed ‘bowcastle

Foremast

The upright mast located furthest forward

Forward

Towards the bow (the front)

Futtock

Segment of a timber frame

g
Galley

The cooking compartments of the ship which, in the Mary Rose, seem to have existed in the Hold and on the Orlop deck

Grapnel

A small several-pronged anchor normally used for dragging for lost articles, or employed to hold vessels together

Gun rail

A timber rail in the ship’s side above the Upper deck and at the base of the Sterncastle, in which there are a number of holes for swivel guns

Gunport

Usually a square opening in the ship’s side through which a gun was fired

Gunport lid

The hinged cover that enabled a gunport to be closed when not in use

Gunwale

The uppermost rail or timber of a ship’s side

h
Hatch

An opening in a deck

Hatch covers

Moveable timber lids used to close a hatch

Hold

The lowest part of the ship, usually used for the stowage of equipment and supplies

Hull

The shell structure of frames and planks of a ship

k
Keel

The central longitudinal strengthening beam in bottom of a ship, from which rise the frames and the stem and sternposts

Knee

An angled timber, usually carved from naturally angled tree growth, fastening the intersection of timbers such as deck beams to the frames of a ship’s side. A ‘hanging knee’ is angled downwards, a ‘lodging knee’ is angled horizontally, and a ‘rising knee’ is angled upwards

l
Linstock

A wooden pole, often decorate, which held a saltpetre-coated cord, used to light a large gun

m
Main deck

The widest deck of the ship, between the Orlop deck below and the Upper deck above

Main mast

The second mast from the bow

Mast-step

Socket in the keelson to hold the foot of a mast

Midships

The centre of the fore and aft length of a ship, sometimes applied to a ship’s waist

Mizzen mast

The third mast from the bow

o
Orlop deck

The lowest deck in the ship

Orlop deck

The lowest deck in the ship

p
Partition

A timber wall forming the side of a compartment

Poop deck

The uppermost deck of the Sterncastle, usually aft of the mizzen mast

Port side

The left-hand side of a ship looking forward

r
Running rigging

Ropes used mainly for setting and furling sails

s
Scupper

Waterway through the side of the ship to allow surface water to be drained outboard

Shroud

Rope used to hold mast upright, attached to the chain at a ship’s side with deadeyes and lanyards

Spike

An iron nail

Stanchion

Upright pillar between deck beams to help support the decks

Standing rigging

Fixed ropes mainly used to support the masts

Starboard side

The right-hand side of a ship looking forward

Stern

The back end of a ship

Sterncastle

The elevated after part of a vessel with, in the Mary Rose, originally two decks

Sterncastle deck

In this case the term refers to the discovered platform inboard in the Sterncastle. In fact it was the lower Castle deck, the upper Castle deck having been destroyed

t
Top

A fighting platform attached to the upper part of a mast. Sometimes erroneously known as a crow's nest

Top mast

The length of mast above the lowest part of a mast

Treenail

A wooden nail used to fasten timbers together

u
Upper Deck

The uppermost through deck of the ship, in three parts: the forward portion under the Forecastle, the middle portion in the waist that was open to the weather, and the aftermost portion under the Sterncastle. In the Mary Rose each part of this deck probably had a different name

w
Waist

The low part of the vessel between the high Forecastle and Sterncastle

Wale

An extra-thick plank running fore-and-aft in the side of the ship

Whipstaff

A method of turning a rudder by means of a vertical lever attached to the inboard end of the tiller which allows the helmsman on a deck above to lever the tiller sideways

Windlass

A machine used to wind rope in the Mary Rose. It had a horizontal roller and was turned by handles, and would have had a pawl as a brake

y
Yard

A horizontal spar located near the top of a mast from which a sail is set. The ends of the yard are termed ‘yardarms