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Why the Mary Rose DIDN’T Sink

This blog is a sort-of sequel to one written for the Huffington Post, so once you’ve read that, come back…


Right, hope you enjoyed it. While the maiden voyage myth (if you skipped the link, the Mary Rose had time between launching and sinking to enjoy a 34 year long career) is our most enduring, it’s not the only one we hear. And if there’s any subject that brings out opinions, it’s this one.

“She Sank Because…”

We don’t know why the Mary Rose sank. we’ve got a few theories but we’re fairly sure it wasn’t because of any of the reasons below.


The view of the lifting operation from Southsea Castle, where Henry VIII had watched the Mary Rose sink over 400 years prior. [MR82.7394T]

The view from Southsea Castle, October 1982. the crane is the size of Big Ben, so how would you be able to spot the king?

“The crew all rushed to one side to see the King, who was stood at Southsea Castle.”

This is a surprisingly popular one. Apart from the fact that at the time the crew were in battle, so rushing off to have a look at the king was probably not a priority, Southsea Castle is about a mile from where the Mary Rose sank. Even at his widest girth, Henry would have been nothing more than a small dot on the coastline. Plus there’s the fact that they could have seen him at any other time prior to the sinking, as he was there all day, not to mention he probably passed quite near to the Mary Rose when he had his dinner on the Henry Grace a Dieu the night before. On a related note…


“The crew all rushed to one side to see a whale/dolphin”



“The crew all rushed to one side to see a mermaid/sea monster

Really, no.


“As she sailed out, she suddenly split down the middle”

Nobody at the time mentions this happening, but nice attempt to explain why we only have half a ship. Plus that’s a pretty big thing to suddenly happen without notice.


“She hit an Iceberg”

That was the Titanic. Also nobody mentions an iceberg being involved, or comments on how odd it is to see a large lump of ice in the Solent at the height of summer.


“The Spanish crew members were frightened by the ghost of a cruel former captain of theirs, and they panicked.”

Yes, this has genuinely been suggested, based on the ‘deductions’ of a ‘Psychic Detective’ in a weekly magazine. It’s hard to know where to start with this one, but this came very soon after a study was published claiming that the crew of the Mary Rose were mostly Spanish (which has since been disputed), so it’s more likely to be based on the ‘detective’ trying to be topical than having any basis in fact.

Also, there are no such thing as ghosts.


Have you heard any weirder suggestions than these? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter.

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