The elite archers of the Mary Rose

Scientists from the University of Swansea have concluded that among those lost with the sinking of the Mary Rose, King Henry VIII's flagship, in 1545, were elite longbowmen. The conclusion was made after the study of over 100 skeletons found on the remains of the ship.

While DNA analysis was not possible, experts found that some of the bones showed "evidence of repetitive strain in their shoulders and spines," injuries incurred by pulling exceptionally heavy bows. “A longbow was 6ft 6in (2 metres) and made from a particular part of a yew tree to generate incredibly efficient ‘spring’. It was mega hi-tech, and it gave England and Wales military superiority. These archers were the elite athletes of their day,” said Nick Owen, a sport and exercise biochemist who is leading the work.