I think, first, introductions are in order. I’m James, I’m a proud Front of House team member at the museum. There’s also my colleague, Kris, who, along with the rest of the Front of House team, add so much to the visitor’s experience of the museum. Together Kris and I are helping project manage the final live session of the day, the actual history of the Mary Rose herself during her days of life, and the men on board who are as important to the story and the ship herself.
We’re working with Team Blue, an amazing group of final year students from the same department, and together we aim to take you on a voyage (excuse the pun) featuring the Mary Rose’s history and the lives of those on board. Sadly we will never know everything about all the crew on board Henry’s most prized ship, but we aim to bring to life as much as we can the different personalities that sailed and became such an important part of the history; while at sea, the Mary Rose was their home, sadly when the ship sank, the ship also became their tomb.
These men are so important, not simply because they just happened to the unfortunate enough to be on a doomed ship, but because it is from their belongings, communal and personal, as well the physical skeletal remains, that we can shed light on what life was like aboard a Tudor warship, and in Tudor life in general. How do we know that one of our human remains was once an archer? How can we recreate what individuals looked like just from their skull? Were they all English?
The osteoarchaeology (study of human remains in archaeology) we can gain from the skeletal remains, as well as their possessions also let us give you an invaluable insight into life in one of the most interesting and intriguing periods in British history- the Tudor period! We can also try and tackle questions such as what did people do in their spare time? What was the level of turmoil in England after Henry’s move away from the Catholic Church? Was the Tudor period nationally exclusive, or was it a globalised world, where people could travel and immigrate? The Mary Rose has often been referred to as a ‘Tudor Pompeii’. That’s exactly right, that it is from such a tragic event that we have been fortunate enough to benefit from a time capsule- a specific moment in history, protected from the damage of time and providing now knowledge that would have been almost impossible to gain without it.
This is an exciting project and opportunity to share the lives of those on board with you, and to hopefully bring this moment of history to life, and introduce you to the personalities and people that made the Mary Rose more than just a ship!