Military Markings: What's The Story Behind Your Navy Tattoo?

Royal Navy sailors and veterans with tattoos have been asked to come forward as part of an effort to archive the long history of naval...

Cover picture: National Museum of the Royal Navy

Royal Navy sailors, past and present, have been asked to come forward if they have any tattoos, as part of an effort to archive the long history of naval tattoos.

'Tattoo: British Tattoo art revealed' uncovers the stories behind the tattoos and explores the cultural significance of naval inking.

The travelling exhibition opens on Wednesday at the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth and was curated by the National Maritime Museum Cornwall.

A research published almost 50 years ago by Naval Surgeon Captain R.W.B. Scutt, 'Tattoo History and Information from Art, Sex, and Symbols: The Mystery of Tattooing', suggested that the catering arm of the navy was the most tattooed.

Sailors of the Royal Navy have been known to sport iconic nautical tattoos as far back as the Battle of Trafalgar.

Alice Roberts-Pratt, Curator of Exhibitions, said: "We’re asking for people to send in their navy tattoos, nautical ones… Any tattoos really if you are serving.

"We want to know what you’ve got or what you have had [done] in the past, so that we can build up an archive of people’s tattoos.

"We’re also asking veterans out there as well and the general public to send in their tattoos because we want to know what they’re getting and if they’re keeping the nautical, navy theme alive."

Joanna Valentine, community outreach officer at The National Museum of the Royal Navy, explained: "We want serving personnel and veterans to tell us their tattoo stories and send us photographs.

"It doesn’t matter how long ago the tattoo was made. We would love to hear why they got their tattoo.

"Why it is important and what do you think is a traditional navy tattoo?"

If you have a tattoo and are or were in the Royal Navy, you can find out more online