Mary Rose: protecting our heritage through chemistry

The Mary Rose remains in a museum

The long-term stability of the ship’s timber depends on stabilising the sulfur problem, the attack on the wood by oxidised sulfur compounds. Kent researchers Emeritus Professor Alan Chadwick and Honorary Professor Eleanor Schofield of the School of Physical Sciences have used state-of-the-art synchrotron methods to assess the problem. This unique study over five years has shown that procedures in the museum are mitigating the sulfur problem and will guide other researchers in conservation of waterlogged artefacts.

The design of the air conditioning system at the Mary Rose museum was carefully engineered to provide a stable environmental climate around the hull.  The key finding of this research is that the sulfur problem has reached a plateau, aided by the stable environment in the Mary Rose museum.

This work led by the University of Kent has a local impact on the economy of Portsmouth and the South East, a national impact in the position of the Mary Rose within British history, and an international impact on the conservation and heritage industry.


[1]  Dr. Esther Rani Aluri Corentin Reynaud Helen Bardas Dr. Eleonora Piva Dr. Giannantonio Cibin Dr. J. Frederick W. Mosselmans Prof. Alan V. Chadwick Prof. Eleanor J. Schofield “The Formation of Chemical Degraders during the Conservation of a Wooden Tudor Shipwreck”