A week at the Mary Rose

Doing work experience often means becoming an ‘office slave’ for a time. My week at the Mary Rose, in Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard, has disproved this. Working with their team of dedicated volunteers and educators I’ve had an immersive and interesting week, diving into the discovery and preservation of The Mary Rose.

walking around with Robert, a kindly old volunteer, he showed me how to interact with guests, explain artifacts and answering  questions. Picking this up quickly I had a go myself. Despite getting most of the facts wrong it was interesting to see the huddle of people around me when I started to explain an object. You could feel the pressure to get it right; although Robert brought me up on a few things now and then it seems I caught the nack. when you could hear a group with desperately trying to guess the use of… say this ….

it was fairly hard not to intervene when people were consistently explaining its use wrong. I too admittedly was to surprised to learn how they used this oven – and it’s not in the way you may be expecting!

Boil in the bag. no it turns out it’s not just for DofE ! It was used in these huge copper cauldrons filled with water, vegetables such as peas would be boiled in bags while meat could be roasted for the higher ranking officers on the raw fire.

would you now like to guess the age of those bricks?

If you thought for one second that the Mary Rose displayed replicas you would be wrong! Everything except the mortar and plastic ‘shadow’ spade hilt and shovel originated in the 16th century. yep those bricks are over 500 years old- and so is the fire wood!


Robert then took me to see the reserve collection, there were over 19,000 or so objects recovered from the wreck but only around 1/3 of these object are on display. One of the objects a sort of wooden ball bearing used for raising the mainsail, had been given to the captains of space shuttle Endeavour in 2011 when he came on a good-will visit. The bearing was given as a present “from one cutting edge technology ship to the other” and both are! ( in respect to their time).

The Mary Rose was a flag ship, an icon in the English navy. Henry Tudor spared no expense on this ship and neither has the Mary Rose Trust. Being able to go ‘backstage’ in this iconic museum in the  Uk’s best attraction 2015 (Won by the dockyard as a whole) was an unbelievable experience. Anyone wishing to study history or archeology …. or both (like me … fingers crossed) should definitely sign up for a week here I promise there will be no slaving office work or rampant filing.

A big thank you to the staff at the Mary Rose for this opportunity and making the week so great!


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