The Mary Rose's musical instruments

Martin Cullingford12th Oct 2017

What Henry VIII's favourite warship - raised 35 years ago this week - revealed about Tudor musical life

It is believed that there were at least ten musical instruments on board the Mary Rose. Those found include two fiddles, a bow, three tabor pipes, a tabor and a still shawm - thought to be one of the only surviving examples in the world
The still shawm is almost complete. Made of fruit wood with brass keyworks and mounts, and about 91.5cm long, it is a unique example of the douçaine type, the great ‘mystery instrument’ of the Middle Ages and early Renaissance, of which no other specimen is known to exist.
A tabor pipe was designed to be played along with a tabor drum by the same musician - one hand playing the drum, the other playing the pipe.
Each pipe only has three holes - for the middle and index fingers and for the thumb. A fragment of the shell of a tabor drum was also recovered, and can be seen in the earlier photograph
Remains of two string instruments were recovered: the belly, the back and part of the ribs, and what is probably the neck. This replica gives an indication of what the fiddle might have looked like.
The raising of the Mary Rose - which followed several years of underwater archaeological work - was believed to have been watched by 60 million people around the world.
The Mary Rose is housed in a purpose-built museum in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, alongside Nelson's flagship HMS Victory (photo: Gareth Gardner)

To launch the gallery, click the first image

This week marks the 35th anniversary since The Mary Rose was raised from the seabed, a milestone event in maritime archeology. The ship - which sank in 1545 during the Battle of the Solent - and the artefacts it contained, revealed much about the Tudor era - and among the objects on board were several musical instruments, including a particuarly unique still shawm. 

Unless otherwise stated, all image are copyright The Mary Rose Trust

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