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Below are some of the technical terms used when describing the Mary Rose and her objects.


Aft – Towards the stern.


Ballast – A quantity of gravel to provide weight in the bottom of the vessel 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.

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


Capstan – A vertical cylindrical device on a deck used for winding cable, 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.


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.


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.


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 several 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.


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.


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.


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


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.


Orlop deck – The lowest deck in the ship.


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.


Running rigging – Ropes used mainly for setting and furling sails.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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’.