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HMS Mary Rose

Listed under Military Museums in Portsmouth, United Kingdom.

  • Photo of HMS Mary Rose
  • Photo of HMS Mary Rose
Photo of HMS Mary Rose
Photo by flickr user Simon Davison
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Back in the 16th century, King Henry VIII built himself a navy. The biggest ship he built was named the Mary Rose, and was part of the fleet that challenged the French at the battle of Solent. Unfortunately, the ship is well-known for sinking during that battle. Well, I say during the battle, but that brings images of shooting and fighting to mind. The truth is that the Mary Rose sank because when she turned too fast, her poor design caused her to heel over so far she filled with water and sank, with the loss of nearly all hands. Forgotten for centuries on the bottom of Portsmouth harbor, she was raised in the 1980s by an expert team of archaeologists.

Once raised, the remainder of the hull (about two thirds were left) was placed in a closed dry dock with a controlled environment, and began spraying the wreck with a type of wax. This humble author has fond memories of seeing the wreck on display as the wax was being sprayed over it. The waxing continued from 1994 to about 2004 (That's a lot of wax) and since then they have switched to a different type of sealant. This second phase of spraying is due to be completed in or around 2010, but until then you can't see the ship. Fortunately, conservators have set up a museum in Portsmouth's historic dockyard. This exhibition has a wide variety of stuff they recovered from the excavation; I saw everything from cannons and bows to shoes and carpentry tools. There's a lot there. In fact, I was talking to one of the guides, and he told me that if they added up everything on display in the museum and counted everything once, they would only have about 1/8th of everything they found. That's...rather impressive.

Also, the museum is definitely kid friendly. They even set up some rigging for kids to mess around with! Or, um, twenty-year old travel writers.

Written by  Robert Evans.

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