New ideas about why the Mary Rose sank

From The Telegraph:

Forensic examination of the crew’s skulls, which were found next the 16th century wreck in The Solent, has revealed that Henry VIII’s flagship was mainly crewed by foreign sailors, thought to be either mercenaries or Spanish prisoners of war.

Historians have always believed that the warship sank when it performed a sharp turn during a battle with the French in July 1545 and heeled so steeply that water flooded through the open gun ports.

But the new theory suggests that the gun ports may only have been open because the crew spoke little English and did not understand orders to close them as the ship’s commander, Admiral George Carew, took evasive action.

The theory has been put forward by Professor Hugh Montgomery, of University College London, whose research team was given access by the Mary Rose Trust to the remains of 18 crewmen.
Forensic anthropologist Lynne Bell examined their skulls to determine where they had lived, and discovered that about 60 per cent were of southern European origin.

Scientists can determine roughly which region a person grew up in by analysing the chemical composition of their teeth, which retain the type of water molecule they consumed while growing up.

Full article with a photo of Dr. Montgomery examining a skull

And another article, from The Daily Mail, with some photos of the ship.


  1. Or it was … sabotage!

  2. Also, Carew’s last words summon up the irresistible comic image of Basil Fawlty screeching at an uncomprehending Manuel in Fawlty Towers.

  3. Ha!! I can totally see that. Gonna have to dig out my old tapes of Fawlty Towers … it’s been too long (and no, I haven’t managed to buy them on DVD yet).

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