Pewterware was more expensive than the wooden alternative...

The 75 Pewter items recovered from the wreck of the Mary Rose represents the largest find in post-Roman Britain because generally pewter does not survive well in soil.

Pewter is either fine metal [tin with copper] or lay metal [tin with lead]. Flatware [plates and dishes] needed to be of the harder fine metal, whilst hollow-ware drinking pots and other round vessels could be made from the softer lay metal.

The origin of the pewter is uncertain but it is believed that most of the flatware was produced domestically whereas some of the hollow ware may have originated from continental Europe.

Pewterware was more expensive than the wooden alternative and so was consequently more likely to be the property of the senior members of the crew. Pewterware was found distributed throughout the ship.

Quick Facts

  • Found on The Mary Rose
  • Made of pewter
  • Period Tudor
  • Date 1545 (about)


  • Virtually all of the 40 pewter flatware pieces from the Mary Rose carry an owner's mark. The initials 'GC', assumed to be those of Vice Admiral George Carew are stamped on 28 of those, with the Lisle coat of arms on three.
  • Five serving flagons in pewter were found on the Mary Rose. They have different capacities, but several are half gallon wine flagons, also known as pottles. A lidded pint pewter wine measure was also discovered.
  • Only three pewter spoons and three wooden examples were recovered. This is an extremely small number, especially given the excellent preservation of so many other pewter and wooden objects, and suggests that the majority of spoons used for eating simply floated away or were made of a perishable material, such as horn, which has nor survived.

Did you know?

Legislation in 1503 ordered each pewterer to stamp his mark or 'touch' on all his pewter hollow-ware. Unfortunately the Pewterer's Company register of marks (touchplates) was lost in the Great Fire of London in 1666, so it is seldom possible to identify the marks today.


Pewterware and other domestic items

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