THEY were raised from the Solent 30 years ago – and yesterday five huge guns from the Mary Rose embarked on a new chapter in their history.
Instead of being hauled from the murky depths of Henry VIII’s sunken flagship, this time a crane lifted them through the roof of Portsmouth Historic Dockyard’s Mary Rose Museum.
As staff in hard hats and reflective jackets looked on, the guns were slowly hoisted into the air before being gently lowered onto waiting wooden trolleys.
Then the bronze artefacts – all of which weigh more than a tonne – were transported to a £35m state-of-the-art facility that is set to open at the start of next year.
The new museum already houses two guns and will contain 19,000 other items retrieved from the wreck.
Chief executive of the Mary Rose Trust John Lippiett said moving the historic guns was a milestone.
He said: ‘What I find amazing is we are doing something with cranes and hydraulic equipment that the Tudors did 500 years ago without any of that technology. I’ve got huge respect for their craftsmanship and their ingenuity.
‘What we have always said about this project is we are using hi-tech methods to look after something 500 years old.
‘The country should be proud of this. We have here one of the nation’s greatest treasures right here in Portsmouth.
‘It’s not recognised because so far we have only been able to show a tiny amount of it.’
He added that visitors to the museum will get to see the guns up close in a similar position to where they were found on the main, upper and castle decks of the Tudor warship – which sank fighting the French on July 19, 1545.
The guns were found with their original carriages and these will be adapted and fitted with reinforced brackets to take their weight.
Alex Hildred, the museum’s curator of ordnance, was one of the divers who found them in 1982.
‘When it was found the Mary Rose was a moment frozen in time,’ she said.
‘That is what we are trying to recreate in the museum.’
Thanks to large donations from the Heritage Lottery Fund the museum only needs to raise a further £539,000.
To help achieve this it is set to launch an initiative called the Friends of the Mary Rose which will provide members with early previews of the museum before it opens.