I am trying to find details if the Vasa had a railing installed above the doors of the 3 decks in the back Looking to the reconstruction of the Batavia there are some railings above the doors, but on all pictures I have of the Vasa I could not find this.
This was up a few month ago at the old warshipwasa site. If I remember correctly Fred explained there are no evidence of anything indicating a railing above the doors. Ive seen a few put it on their models anyway.
In the case of Batavia, a modern replica, our nanny state type civilization might have dictated this to prevent people from getting hurt. In Vasa's time, people getting hurt was less of a concern. Even seat belts in cars are a relatively recent thing...
After the interesting discussion in old warshipwasa site, I discussed the researches of the Vasamuseet with model colleagues some time ago. Peter Rückert from Augsburg presumed: Considering the short comissioning of the ship it may be possible, the final structural state has not been reached yet. Time and money ran out to the Vasawarvet at their last finishing steps. This may be an explanation for the missing of railings at the decks aft. It would be interesting to hear Fred's opion on this assumption.
We should be consistently adhered to the museum and archaeological facts and rules and so I will not build rails on my model.
Based on my own memory of paintings, it seems to me that railings at the front ends of the quarter deck and poop were more commonplace in later ships, like those built during the second half of the 17th century.
But as Alexander says, they could have been planned to be added later.
There has been a long discussion of this, but the short answer is that there is no evidence on the ship that there was ever a railing at the forward edge of the quarterdeck or steerage roof, and all of the relevant structure in this area, including the light fiferails, survives. If there had been a railing there, we would know it. There are no unaccounted for fastener holes, empty mortises or ghosts from missing timbers. After spending the last ten years crawling around the ship and recording every timber in detail, I am pretty sure that I can tell when stuff is missing. For example, we can reconstruct the missing railing at the forward edge of the upper deck pretty accurately, since the missing knees which atached it to the fiferails left clear traces and empty nail holes.
The argument that the ship was not yet finished and one would be fitted later does not hold up either, since there is no substructure to which one could attach a railing, and the forward edge of the deck is finished with a carved moulding and scuppers. The images of ships like Saint Louis and models make it clear that some ships in this period and later had railings across the forward edge of the sterncastle decks, but the archaeology makes it equally clear that Vasa was not one of them. This is a common problem in archaeology, that it presents real-world data that disagrees with the "rules" written down in treatises and the conventions shown in pictures. It also shows on a regular basis that people do not always make logical decisions. Just because something should be there, or that it would be a good idea if it was there, does not mean that it was.
In practice, the absence of a railing is probably not an extreme safety hazard once you have your sea legs. On the quarterdedck, the mizzenmast makes a pretty good barrier at the forward edge. There is a relatively narrow gap between the mast and the ladders either side, and the drop to the steerage roof is less than 60 cm. The drop at the forward edge of the steerage roof is much more serious, as is the drop from the poop to the quarterdeck. On the poop, the deck is so narrow (maximum breadth 3.5 meters), that one can hold on to the railings at the sides while standing on almost half of it.