British museum to show remains of Mary Rose warship's sailors

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London, October 12 (ANI): A museum in Portsmouth, UK, is all set to put on public display the remains of 90 crew members of the Mary Rose warship, more than 450 years after they drowned in a battle with a French invasion force.

On 19 July 1545, the Mary Rose, the flagship of Vice-Admiral Sir George Carew, set out from Portsmouth, along with some 80 other English vessels, to confront a fleet of 225 ships, carrying 30,000 soldiers, sent by King Francis I of France to attempt an invasion.

The ship sank with the loss of more than 400 lives, in circumstances that remain unclear to this day.

A dismayed King Henry VIII watched the battle from onshore, in Southsea Castle.

The underwater wreck was discovered in 1836 by a fisherman in the Solent. It became an officially protected site in 1974, and was excavated in 1982.

Only 1,000 objects have so far been seen by the public, from a stock of 19,000 underwater finds.

This is about to change, at the renovated museum in Portmouth's Historic Dockyard zone.

The project is due to be completed by 2010, depending on a further 4 million pounds of funding being secured.

"We are discussing the possibility of displaying human remains next to the objects," Alexandra Hildred, a curator at the the Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth, told the Independent.

Another option is to have the human remains in a separate area, to be viewed by appointment only.

None of the remains have been seen before, except for two skulls shown earlier this year.

"Displaying bones is something that causes huge controversy," Hildred acknowledged. "We have not yet decided how we will do it," she added.

The previously unseen relics include Europe's oldest fiddle and bow, a beautifully preserved leather "man bag", a giant wooden spoon used to stir the crew's porridge pot, arrows, longbows and backgammon boards.

According to Rear Admiral John Lippiett, chief executive of the Mary Rose Trust, "The importance of these Tudor artefacts, many of which we have never had the space to put on public display, cannot be over-estimated. Nowhere else is a single moment in Tudor life captured as it is with the Mary Rose." (ANI)

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