Mary Rose Cannon

We were asked to reproduce a nearly exact replica of a seven inch bore wrought iron stave gun recovered from the wreck of the Mary Rose. The original was believed to date back to the early 16th century. The intentions behind the reconstruction were threefold:

  • To research in a practical sense the methods used in the construction of the original.
  • To produce a gun which would be capable of being fired for the purpose of research into the performance of early wrought iron guns.
  • To produce film footage for a documentary film, being made by Yorkshire Television for the American history channel.

A full photographic record was kept of all stages of construction, and is accompanied by a comprehensive written report. The materials used were all recovered puddled wrought iron, rolled or forged to section. Techniques were, in general, traditional, and all welds being made in the fire, but owing to the tight schedule and considerations of cost, mechanical assistance was used where possible.

Owing to a tight deadline set by the film company the time available for research and manufacture was short. The original barrel was examined and drawings previously prepared by the Mary Rose Trust used as a guide to sizes of components etc. Because no cross-section was available, certain assumptions were made about the details of construction. An incomplete breech from a similar but slightly smaller gun was cross-sectioned as it proved impossible to deduce the breech construction from its external and internal appearance.
The cross-section, while solving the problems of construction, served to confirm that the original was by no means well made. A short trial piece was first made to research the chosen techniques for producing the muzzle and ring/stave system. This proved a success, the same techniques were used with complete satisfaction to produce the actual barrel.

Sub Contractors

  • Richard Lewis – Manufacture of shackle rings and substantial part of the breech
  • Crowder Engineers – machining and fitting of staves
  • J. Pilkington – turned wooden cores

Client: Royal Armouries

Year: 1998