Margaret Rule shares her memories of the recovery of Henry VIII’s flag-ship the Mary Rose with the BBC. Watch this video – Rule’s stories of her discoveries, and the human stories behind, them are wonderful!
On the 19th July 1545, in the shallow waters of the Solent, Henry VIII’s flagship the Mary Rose set sail, primed for battle with the French ships that threatened the English fleet.
But as she raised her sails, something went wrong – the Mary Rose heeled over while coming about and, with gun-ports open and ready to fire, the sea rushed in. In moments, heeling turned to capsizing, capsizing to sinking: the ship went down with almost all of her crew.
Four hundred and thirty seven years later, in October 1982, a team led by Margaret Rule CBE raised the Mary Rose from the mud at the bottom of the Solent. Together they broke new ground in maritime archaeology, advancing methods in wreck conservation and underwater excavation.
Born in 1928, Margaret studied archaeology at Cambridge University*. After this, she focussed on decidedly terrestrial research, co-directing excavations in the 1960s at Fishbourne Roman Palace. While Curator there, she began to advise on the first underwater searches for the Mary Rose in the 1970s.
At this point, Margaret dived headfirst into the nascent world of maritime archaeology. As Director of the Mary Rose Trust, she oversaw one of the most remarkable achievements ever in underwater survey, excavation and salvage.
The careful uncovering, raising and long-term painstaking conservation of the Mary Rose and her contents, has made the ship’s story about so much more than military history. It provides us with some of our most striking insights into the everyday life of Tudor people, through the possessions of the hundreds of men who lost their lives that day.
*It is possible from these dates that her TrowelBlazing career began while Dorothy Garrod was still in the Disney Chair in Archaeology at Cambridge: if anyone knows if this is the case – or not! – let us know.
Written by Tori, edited and posted by Becky