The Archers that crewed The Mary Rose.

18 May

When the Mary Rose was raised from the Solent  in 1982  the skeletons of 92 men were recovered. Historical sources record that a company of longbowmen were on board when the vessel sank, but until now it has not been possible to isolate which of the skeletons might have belonged to this group.

The Mary Rose

Now Sports scientists, osteologists and modern technology have joined forces to help identify the archers that crewed the Mary Rose., Henry Vlll’s flagship sank in l545.

Nick Owen, a Sport and Exersize  Biomechanist from Swansea University, has been examining bones from the wreck to see if any show signs of the repetitive, strenuous actions associated with archery.. The Mary Rose Trust contacted Nick to help with this research because he works with modern elete athletes’,  Nick said that the Longbow archers were the elete athletes of their day. They used very powerful bows, some of which required a lifetime of training and immense strength as the archers had to pull weights of up to 200lbs’.

The Mary Rose Longbows

The Mary Rose Longbows. Courtesy of Murray Sanders.

In order to determine which bones might show the effect of regularly firing heavy bows, Nick set out to establish where the greatest bilateral difference in forces acting on the muscles would occur. Modern- day longbow archers were brought into the lab and marked up with motion-capture equipment to see exactly which parts of the body were used when firing the bows. This helped to establish the radius needed.

Nine pairs of arms and shoulders  were analysed, carefully matched by an osteologist, of which three had both radii. When these were examined the heads of the bones showed differences in surface area of up to 46%

The next stage of the project will see the analysis of DNA from the skeletal material, to help match the bones more exactly, and to shed light on the individuals who made up the ill-fated flagships crew.

Watch this space for more about the Archers of the Mary Rose.


Posted by on May 18, 2013 in Uncategorized


4 responses to “The Archers that crewed The Mary Rose.

  1. nutsfortreasure

    May 18, 2013 at 10:49 pm

    Awesome! Hope you are doing awesome!


  2. Mark Hubbs

    May 19, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    Rita, this is an excellent article and a subject dear to my heart. I’ve done a lot of research on archers over the past few years and the Mary Rose is my favorite recovered ship. I look forward to visiting the new Mary Rose museum sometime in the future, I’d like to re-blog this on


    • ritaroberts

      May 19, 2013 at 5:39 pm

      You are quite welcome to reblog any of my posts Mark. Thank you for your kind comment.


  3. Roy Draa

    May 28, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    Read this on Mark’s blog. Thanks for your posting!



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