Mary Rose brass shows sophistication and conservation is effective

IOM3 Content Cafe
4 Jun 2020

X-ray analysis of three copper-alloy artefacts recovered from the Henry VIII’s ship, Mary Rose, has allowed insight into their construction and shown how conservation is working.

The Mary Rose sank just off Portsmouth in July 1545 and lay undisturbed for centuries until raised in 1982. Many investigations have been undertaken on artefacts from the ship, including new methods of preserving cannonballs. A new study has used X-ray analysis to inspect brass links from chainmail, the work is published in the Journal of Synchrotron Radiation.

This analysis showed that the links were manufactured from brass comprising 73% copper and 27% zinc, indicating a well-controlled process. Analysis of the surface chemistry of the links, which had undergone various cleaning and conservation treatments, compared corrosion levels. The work indicated that all of the methods used in conservation had been effective at preventing corrosion.