Published: 12:00, 08 July 2020
| Updated: 11:08, 14 July 2020
It served for more than 30 years in the navy of King Henry VIII, led the Tudor fleet in battles against France and Scotland and its sinking in 1545 still remains a mystery to this day. Few warships have captured the public's imagination as much as The Mary Rose.
When it was raised from the bottom of the Solent in 1982, it was regarded as a watershed moment in conservation. Speaking at the opening of the Mary Rose Museum in 2013, historian Dan Snow called the ship "the most important piece of archaeology to come out of Britain in our lifetime. This is a time capsule perfectly preserved, this is Britain's Pompeii."
Now, a new KMTV documentary called "Mary Rose: A Chemical Conundrum" explores how a team from the University of Kent helped to preserve, and put on display, the pride of the Tudor fleet.
Part of the Kent Thinks Discovers series, produced in collaboration with the University of Kent, the film features Professors Alan Chadwick and Eleanor Schofield who have monitored the restoration of the ship and her thousands of artefacts in real time.
Using state-of-the-art science and technology the team, along with those at the UK's national synchrotron facility in Didcot, have assessed chemical problems and helped develop methods to mitigate decay in "Britain's Pompeii."
The fruits of their labour are clear for all to see at the ship's dedicated museum, one of the country's most important heritage centres and a significant contributor to Portsmouth's economy. As well as the remnants of the Mary Rose visitors can catch a glimpse of remnants of Tudor life aboard the ship, from crossbows to cannonballs, all pristinely preserved thanks to the work of Professors Chadwick and Schofield.
"I first got involved with the project 11 years ago," Professor Schofield told KentOnline. "It's been great to use this opportunity with KMTV to reflect on the research we have done so far, our findings, and the implication for the Mary Rose collection and our research in the future."
While many may already know about the Mary Rose and its raising, Professor Schofield wants viewers to learn about the science which has ensured the nearly 500-year-old story of the ship continues. "I hope people watching the film will take away how imperative scientific research is for understanding and protecting this collection. And also how effective research partnerships can be to answer questions which cover such a broad remit," she says.
KMTV's Editor-in chief Andy Richards believes viewers will be fascinated by Professor Schofield and Chadwick's work as well as the other diverse studies in the Kent Thinks Discovers series: "These films are an opportunity to showcase the pioneering research being done by world-leading academics at the University of Kent."
"There are many narratives in this story and Mary Rose: A Chemical Conundrum weaves them together. It manages to take complex science and make it accessible to a wider audience."
"We are very proud to have Alan and Eleanor as representatives of the University of Kent," says Research Excellence Manager Betty Woessner.
"Their work is vital. It has had a significant impact on the economy of Portsmouth and the South East, a national impact in the position of the Mary Rose within British history, and an international impact on the conservation, heritage and tourism industries."
Kent Thinks Discovers: Mary Rose - A Chemical Conundrum is now available on KMTV (Freeview Channel 7, Virgin Channel 159)
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