Archaeologists stunned by ‘multicultural’ Mary Rose crew: ‘Reflected Tudor Britain’

HMS Mary: Divers discover 18th century cannon in shipwreck

We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time. More info

The Mary Rose was King Henry VIII’s favourite warship. She served in numerous wars against the French, Scotland and Brittany, before seeing her last action nearly 500 years ago. She spent more than 400 years on the bed of the Solent, before being raised in one of the most complex and expensive maritime salvation projects the world has ever seen. The ship was a Tudor treasure trove, with the surviving section of the ship and the 26,000 artefacts left behind acting as a Tudor-era time capsule.

It remains unclear, however, exactly how she sank, owing to a range of differing testimonies as well as a lack of conclusive evidence to support each one.

When the Mary Rose met her fate on July 19, 1545, most of its 415-strong crew died. Fewer than 35 survived.

The Channel 4 documentary ‘Skeletons of the Mary Rose: The New Evidence’, which first aired two years ago, helped redefine what we knew, or thought we knew, about Tudor England.

When the ship was raised in 1982, the remains of at least 179 crew members were found, alongside thousands of personal objects.

Clothing, games, tools and coins were among the personal items found.

Many of the human remains were excellently preserved, allowing scientists and archaeologists to gain a much greater understanding of the backgrounds of the crew members.

One man, whose story they were desperate to solve, has been named ‘Henry’.

Dr Alex Hildred, head of research at the Mary Rose Trust, told Channel 4, after Henry’s skull had been sent off for digital analysis, that the results came as a shock.

She said: “All of them said that this skull was completely different from the others.

“Things like the distance between the eyes, the length of the nose versus the width of it, the slant of the lower jaw.

“They think, possibly, he was of African origin. And for us, that’s tremendously exciting to think that we might have an African.”

Researchers from the Mary Rose Trust and Cardiff University set to work, using a technique called multi-isotope analysis on the teeth of eight crew members, to investigate where they might have originally come from.

The researchers had originally thought that the team of carpenters on board would all have been English, until they found some curious coins nearby.

Dr Hildred said: “We had a group of coins that were clustered together, and they broke apart, revealing the face of one of them, which was a Spanish coin.”

Alongside the Spanish coin was a carpentry tool called an ‘adze’, which is also Spanish.

Russia threatens millions as it runs rampant in Irish waters [INSIGHT]
Archaeologists stunned as ‘800-year-old’ pre-Inca mummy unearthed [DISCOVERY]
Ancient Egypt breakthrough as ‘desecrated’ tomb culprits identified [INSIGHT]

Dr Richard Madgwick, an archaeological scientist at Cardiff University, analysed one of the crew members, named ‘the carpenter’.

Oxygen isotope analysis can help establish where the subject of the research came from. The higher the value, the hotter the climate.

Dr Madgwick said of ‘the carpenter’: “It’s one of the highest values. So, it certainly indicates that he’s likely to be of Mediterranean origin.

“He’s certainly from somewhere warmer than Britain. That’s clear.

“So, Spain would be consistent with that. The Iberian peninsula is definitely a possibility.”

Another crew member was named the ‘archer royal’, because he had a leather wrist guard bearing the symbol of a pomegranate, which was associated with Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s first wife.

He was expected to have been English, yet oxygen values were “among the very highest obtained from any person in Britain”.

Dr Madgwick speculated that he might have come from the North African coast.

As for Henry, he had the lowest oxygen value of them all.

Dr Madgwick said: “The values suggest a solidly British origin, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have African ancestry.

“It suggests he’s a second generation or further down the line.”

DNA tests on Henry later confirmed that he was of African heritage. A DNA profile suggested he could have been from the Berbers in Algeria, on the northern Sahara.

The analysis of the crew indicated that the previous thoughts on Tudor England were very wrong.

Dr Madgwick added: “To land on three from only eight individuals suggests that the crew were much more multicultural than perhaps we previously thought.”

Dr Hildred echoed this: “Now, we are going to be able to say that Henry’s ship had a crew that reflected Tudor Britain at the time. We couldn’t hope for any more, really.”

She finished: “The idea that a Tudor warship had an entirely English crew is now being blown out of the water quite definitively.”

Source: Read Full Article