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Did this man cause Mary Rose to sink in the Solent?
Reconstructed Bosun
Was this the man responsible for the sinking of Mary Rose?

Historians in Portsmouth believe they may have found the man who caused Henry VIII's Mary Rose to sink in 1545.

He was the ship's bosun, the man responsible for relaying the Captain's instructions to the crew.

Alex Hildred, Curator of the Mary Rose Trust said: "It was his job to get the gun ports shut. That did not happen because we found them all open and hinged up when the ship sank."

Now his head has been modelled from his skull, recovered from the wreck.

Alex said: "The bosun was responsible for anything onboard that was operated by ropes. That includes the gun ports."

Alex Hildred
Alex Hildred was one of the original diving team who rescued Mary Rose

Alex, one of the diving team who helped bring Mary Rose to the surface in 1982, said: "A bosun's call was discovered very close to him."

He would use a bosun's call, or whistle, to attract the signal instructions to the crew members.

The bosun would have been one of only five people on board to have had one.

Alex explained: "The one found near him was was the largest bosun's call on the Mary Rose, and his was the only one that was found near to any activity on board."

Facial reconstruction

When Mary Rose was discovered on the bed of The Solent, a number of crew members' body parts were still intact.

Alex said: "His skeleton was found lying very close to a gun on the deck, and in very good condition."

She explained: "They knew he was five feet four inches (163cm) tall.

Skull
Scientists rebuilt the head starting with the muscle points

Using DNA evidence gathered from the teeth, scientists already knew the man was in his late 30s to early 40s.

With that information, forensic artist Richard Neave and two colleagues were able to begin building the face.

Alex said: "Starting at the points where the muscles attach to the skull, he built up the face with layers."

Knowing his age meant it was easy deciding his skin tone.

Studying the skeleton, the scientists believed him to have been a manual worker as a young man.

There was little evidence of physical exertion in his later years, so they believe he held a position of authority on board.

Recognisable face

When Mary Rose sank off Southsea castle, there were up to 500 crew members on board.

On seeing the face for the first time, Alex said: "What was a fantastic collection of artefacts now becomes a living community."

Mary Rose in lifting cage
Mary Rose was lifted from the bed of The Solent in 1982

Alex says that having the head built has now made the divers realise that it was a living community on the boat: "It is a fascinating insight into what happened on board.

"With DNA analysis and mapping, we should be able to work out where people were from. We can also piece together family members. It's just the beginning really."

The team rescued 82 skulls from the remains of the ship and Alex hopes that the project can continue: "There is no reason why we can't recreate all 82 skulls, but they cost a lot of money to do."

She added: "We are very lucky that the skeletal remains are in such good condition."

Alex says they hope to be able to piece together more information about those on board Henry VIII's Mary Rose.




SEE ALSO
Mary Rose crew's face recreated
10 Feb 10 |  Hampshire

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