Dive into the Mary Rose story | The Mary Rose
Dive into the Mary Rose story
Learning | 18 Apr, 2023 | The Learning Team
"Diving is central to the story of the Mary Rose..."

Diving is central to the story of the Mary Rose. Without over 500 volunteer divers, archaeologists and Royal Engineers working to excavate the wreck site, the ship and her artefacts would still be at the bottom of the Solent. This month we are celebrating the modern story of the Mary Rose with the opening of Dive the Mary Rose, our new 4D experience. For the first time, this immersive show will allow visitors access to the underwater world of the excavation and raising of the ship. As museum educators, this story provides us with incredible material to use with visitors of all ages.

We offer a variety of workshops and talks for different age groups, all of which cover the story of the raising and highlight some of the incredible people involved. The historian Alexander McKee spent years researching and diving to explore the seabed searching for the Mary Rose, and its thanks to his perseverance we have this unique collection of Tudor artefacts.

Although it was all men on the ship in 1545, the excavation and raising of the Mary Rose was done by a team of women and men. There are amazing stories of pioneers, such as Dr Margaret Rule, who was the Archaeological Director from 1979. Famously, after watching the divers bring up hundreds of incredible artefacts from the seabed, Margaret Rule learned how to dive so she could explore the wreck site herself. Dr Alexandra Hildred joined the team in 1979 as an archaeological supervisor and is now our Head of Research. She has published her research on the weapons of the Mary Rose and even worked with the Royal Armouries to make and fire replica cannons from the ship! These are just two of the hugely inspiring women at the Mary Rose. SWE Girlguiding said “Such inspiring women for our young members to learn about” after their last visit.

Our story has inspired groups across Portsmouth to take pride in their maritime heritage. During the last Kids in Museums Takeover Day, local students had the opportunity to meet two of the original dive team and hear first hand accounts of what it was like. Diver Doug Barnett was really inspiring, telling young people: "The Mary Rose project changed my life forever. Take every opportunity you can!"  On a similar theme, we also partnered with the Portsmouth Music Hub to create a song celebrating the achievements of the Mary Rose divers ‘The Heroes of the Mary Rose

There are lots of fun activities online to find out more about divers on the Mary Rose, including making a model of Tog Mor (the crane barge which lifted the Mary Rose) in LEGO bricks, or a science experiment for making your own Cartesian diver!

Find out more about our education work by following us on Twitter @MaryRoseLearn