Skeleton Of World's Oldest Sea Dog 'Hatch' Found On The Mary Rose

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She may have been a mongrel, but in the finest tradition of seafaring, this old sea dog went down with her ship.And there she stayed, on the seabed – for the next four and half centuries.The unfortunate hound was on board Henry VIII’s flagship Mary Rose when the ill-fated warship sank to the bottom of the Solent on July 19, 1545.

The dog, now preserved as an almost complete canine skeleton, acquired the nickname Hatch after divers discovered her remains near the sliding hatch door of the Mary Rose’s carpenter’s cabin.Experts believe the hound, estimated to have been between 18 months and two years old, earned her keep as the ship’s ratter – superstitious Tudor seafarers did not have cats on board ship as they were thought to bring bad luck.And she was probably very good at her job – only the partial remains of rats’ skeletons have been found on board the Mary Rose.

By contrast Hatch’s skeleton is remarkable for how well it has been preserved, it is 99 per cent complete with a just a few teeth and a few paw bones missing.After 34 years at sea and three wars, the Mary Rose had been regarded by many as invincible.Then, as she defended England from a French invasion force, she sank taking with her 500 men and a treasure trove of Tudor history with her to the seafloor.
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So complete was the Mary Rose’s demise that even the rats didn’t even the chance to leave the sinking ship, as experts discovered when they brought the vessel and her contents (rodent skeletons included) back to the surface.But the rats on board ship didn’t stand much of a chance back in the 16th century, not with Hatch on board.Now Hatch is about to go on display in an arena which is all about canine perfection, Crufts, as a special guest of the Kennel Club.John Lippiett, chief executive of the Mary Rose Trust and Hatch’s ‘guardian’, said: ‘We are delighted to bring Hatch, the world’s oldest lost sea dog, to the world’s premier dog show, so that visitors can meet an ancestor of their much loved pets.

‘Expert analysis of Hatch’s bones suggests that she spent most of her short life within the close confines of the ship.’It is likely that the longest walks she took were along the quayside at Portsmouth, her home town.’Experts from the Natural History Museum, in London, examined the bones and were able to establish from the size, shape and composition that Hatch did not receive much exercise.

The painstakingly preserved and reconstructed skeleton of the Mary Rose’s dog will be on display at DFS Crufts, Birmingham NEC, from tomorrow, along with a selection of Tudor artefacts, including an original stone cannon ball and piece of ship’s rope as well as an array of replicas, including some of the carpenter’s tools.

The Mary Rose was brought back to the surface in 1982. Yet even today only a tiny fraction of the 19,000 Tudor artefacts discovered in the 11-year excavation are on public display.All that is due to change, however. The Mary Rose Trust is running a public appeal to help fund an ambitious £35million museum project.Scheduled for completion in time for the London Olympics in 2012, the museum will reunite the great ship with her treasures in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.Hatch is the mascot of the Mary Rose 500 Public Appeal which is seeking 500 individuals, schools, businesses and organisations to come on board and symbolically become the ‘new crew’ of the Tudor warship, by each pledging to raise £500 towards the Public Appeal.

(source)

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