Hours of darkness


First there was a glimpse of Illustrious, on her way to a big naval exercise:  not in a position to get a photo, but she looked fine in the sunlight, tugs shepherding her out to sea.

Then Warrior, fettled up for the summer season:

1 Warrior

And Victory, stumpy and simplified with her topmasts gone:

2 Victory

This one, I think perhaps Dragon, slid from the jetty with a loud siren blast:

3 Dragon?

And then the business of the day, the new Mary Rose gallery, looking like a cross between an ancient hull and a beached whale, with a slight touch of stealth bomber thrown in:

4 ship hall

The ship herself remains in an environmentally-controlled closed hall, now drying off for a few years with the aid of enormous ventilation pipes, to be peered at through surprisingly few windows on each of three deck levels.  It is much easier to see her now that she isn’t hidden in perpetual spray.

5 upper deck

On the other side of each of the three viewing walkways, galleries tried to evoke the contents of the corresponding deck with displays of armaments, equipment and small finds as it were in situ, in an attempt to integrate the artefacts with the surviving moiety of the hull.  At each end, sleek galleries displayed detailed information, audio-visual displays, and yet more finds, watched over in some cases by the skulls of their former owners.  In a useful convention, missing parts were replaced with transparent components to indicate the complete object.

6 demi culverin

Items I don’t remember seeing before include the whole of a top (for lookouts at a masthead) which survived because it was a spare, stowed below decks.

7 top

Lighting levels are low, preserving the organic materials as well as possible.  Many items look ludicrously and unnaturally new:  some of the bow staves, stored in chests ready for archers who never used them; a rosary; great cables for the anchor; a wallet; a massive wreath of parrel beads; a carved ivory plaque; boots; and, of all things, a woollen sock.

We were fully absorbed for three hours, wandering purposefully through the darkness, until our tummies were crying out against us.



2 responses »

    • A lot of the finds were ‘spares’, I think, because the hold material has been preserved and the top gear has all gone, so I think some interesting sidelights about the management and supply of the fleet emerge too.

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