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The Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth is well under way a year-long project to more carefully the ‘Mary Rose’ – one of the most important boats during the era of King Henry VIII. The crew of over 400 is also being carefully analysed and it’s amazing to see that DNA testing is showing that the crew on board were from a diverse range of ethnicities.

One of the crew members studied was found to have both mitochondrial and nuclear DNA that was typical of people from North Africa or Southern Europe. Another team member who  was known as the ‘Archer Royal’ was reported to have DNA that is typical of people who live in the North African mainland.

Currently 92 members have been analysed and researchers are optimistic that the rest of the crew will continue to unravel this amazing part of history that is otherwise portrayed in a ‘whitewashed’ way. Contrary to popular belief, multiculturalism and racial diversity were also a part of Tudor England with Black people working as sailors, merchants and musicians.

It’s very important as historians to look critically about how history is presented and to think about in a contemporary political context, which voices are likely to be erased from the narrative. A scientific approach to history, such as in the case of the Mary Rose, highlights that the reality may sometimes be very different to its portrayal.

Historians looking to put a unique spin on their personal statement would do well to delve deeper into this theme to show critical thinking, great source work and strong research skills.

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