Archaeologists Raise Parts Of Henry VIII's Flagship, 'Mary Rose'

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One of the enduring mysteries of British naval history moved a step closer to being solved as archaeologists raised remaining parts of the Mary Rose.

Historians have been baffled as to why Henry VIII's flagship foundered and sank in the Solent off Portsmouth in 1545, watched by the monarch, as it set sail to repel a French invasion force. But after a painstaking two-year project to recover the central part of the ship's bow, which also resulted in the raising of its massive anchor, specialists will have one of the final pieces in the Mary Rose jigsaw. Until now, the design and shape of the front of the ship has been unknown.

Yesterday's success prompted jubilation in the recovery team. John Lippiett, chief executive of the Mary Rose Trust, said: 'This is a wonderful day and it's very exciting. We are seeing things for the first time in 460 years " this is the last piece in the puzzle.'

The return of the 2.3-ton stem timber and the discovery of parts of the ship's heavily fortified, multi-storey forecastle have sent a wave of excitement through the world of marine archaeology. Raising the forecastle itself remains, however, a distant dream. While yesterday's operation was funded by the Ministry of Defence to make way for a deep-water channel in the Solent, the cost of recovering the forecastle would be in excess of £1m.

It is the first time since the Tudor wreck was raised 23 years ago that a major remaining element of the vessel has been brought up.

It is thought the bow became separated from the rest of the ship while Venetian salvors, brought in by Henry VIII, tried in vain to refloat the vessel.

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