7th Experimental Archaeology Conference Abstract – Christopher Dobbs

Reconstructing the Cook’s Galley on the Mary Rose – From Seabed Rubble to Working Kitchen

Christopher Dobbs

The Mary Rose Trust, UK

During the underwater excavations of the Tudor warship Mary Rose, a large pile of rubble was discovered down in the hold of the ship.  Shortly before raising the hull in 1982, the author was responsible for excavating this area and a small portion of the ships galley was found still intact at the bottom of this rubble.  Later during the post-excavation analysis there was an opportunity to revisit the data and to reconstruct the brick galley on the basis of the archaeology carried out underwater.

At first a reconstruction was made on paper of the brickwork discovered in-situ and this led to a paper reconstruction of the whole brick oven and hence the whole galley area.  However a number of details remained elusive:  how was the archway into the oven finished and was there a flue?  To answer these and other questions and to better understand the structure, the author embarked on a series of projects of experimental archaeology – first building a 1:1 reconstruction of the oven and then performing cooking trials using an enormous replica of the cauldron.  Wherever possible, replicas of objects found close to the galley were used in the experiments and the public were able to watch all stages of the work.

The result gives insights not just into how a galley was built and operated down in the hold of a Tudor warship, but also how they could have cooked basic meals for over 400 crew and specialised meals for the higher status officers.

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