LONGBOW ARCHERSTHE MARY ROSE
Sudden disaster followed by glorious resurrection 1545 - 1982
The Mary Rose keel was laid in 1509 on the accession of King Henry VIII.
Named after his sister she remained the King's favourite and pride of the British Navy.
The first of a new generation of carvel-built warships able to fire a broadside, the Mary Rose was a quantum move in naval design until sudden disaster overtook her. Overloaded, over-balanced in a 1536 refit, her gun ports open; a sudden gust and change of wind direction did for her.
With the King looking across the water from Southsea Castle, she heeled over and with water gushing in through her gun ports her filled up with breathtaking speed. Her weight of guns, stores and men shifted across and accelerated the momentum of the disaster.
Hundreds of men screamed for their lives, trapped as they were below desks and anti-boarding netting. Without much chance of survival most went down in what must have been a matter of minutes.
Unique conditions of silt and lack of oxygen meant this 16th Century time capsule was maintained virtually intact for some 450 years until the wreck was re-discovered in 1979, its thousands of artefacts were removed and the wreck itself was brought to the surface in October 1982.
Vital data for longbow archers
The interest to Longbow Archers of this find and of the Mary Rose Museum is conclusive.
There had been no large scale evidence of what a Medieval Longbow looked like, how it was made and how it shot, until the Mary Rose find. Similarly there was no large scale catalogue of Medieval archery equipment such as arrows, pouches, bracers, belts, buckles, or personal items. At a stroke this vast inventory has become available for all to see. It is a most stunning collection.
The Mary Rose Trust has a first-class track-record of balancing the demands of conservation and of making its collection available for all to see. In addition the Trust has been particularly helpful to all those interested in the longbow and by arrangement allows small groups into the inner sanctum of its collection.
How today's longbow archers compare to the Medieval forbearers
For practitioners of the longbow the Mary Rose Trust has lent its name to a series of trials that replicate what was expected of the Medieval longbow archer. These trials will be held on a yearly basis by the Fraternity of Saint George.
The International Mary Rose Warbow Trophy will be the benchmark all-round test of the longbowman's skill;
power; precision; trajectory; range; speed; distance. It will be shot with longbows ranging from 70 to 170 lbs draw-weight. It will demand arrows of up to 1200 grain to be shot over 220 yards and it will test whether the new generation of Warbows can hit 22 inches at 220 yards.
English Warbows will come to life !
Grateful acknowledgement for copyright to the National Maritime Museum, the Master and Fellows of Magdalene College Cambridge and the Mary Rose Trust