The deck beams are the very large timbers that run across the width of the ship. They support the decks and provide stability and rigidity. The beams are generally made from several overlapping pieces of oak. They are fastened with iron or copper bolts at each end onto timbers known as the beam shelves or deck clamps.
Thirteen percent of the beams on the middle deck have had repairs to their ends, but this only represents about 3% of the total length of original material.
In the orlop 90% of the deck beams are thought to have been present at Trafalgar. On the lower deck 90% pre-date 1923 and on the middle deck this figure is about 50%.
On some of the deck beams are cut shipwright’s marks, known as raze or scribe marks. These marks can identify and date the timbers. They show sequences of repair, how timber was managed and perhaps gives some clues about the people who worked on Victory. Most of this material dates from the 1814 – 1817 rebuild.