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Author Topic: DNA Breakthrough? The Archers of the Mary Rose  (Read 1271 times)
GoldenHind
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« on: January 13, 2013, 06:34:55 PM »

I read the following interesting note in the newsletter of the Arms and Armour Society, concerning DNA testing of the bones of archers found on the Mary Rose. Presumably most will be aware that the Mary Rose was an English ship that sunk off the coast of England in 1545 and has been the subject of much scientific research.

"Scientists have identified the group of elite archers who perished aborad the Mary Rose alongside the sailors. Scientists from the University of Swansea have spent two years working to identify almost 100 skeletons which are kept at the Mary Rose Museaum in Portsmouth.
DNA identification has proved difficult because the skeletons had been contaminated by cockles, molluscs and algae. However new DNA exytraction technology has been developed which has enabled researchers to identify where the skeletons originated from and even information regarding personal features such as eye and hair colour.
It has become clear that the skeletons show signs of of repetive stress in the shoulders and lower spine which is believed to be due to the time spent on longbow practice. Many archers were considered the premier warriors of of their day. It would have taken years for them to train to the point where they could use heavy longbows. This breakthrough allows a more comprehensive understanding of the people on board the ship, which sank almost five centuries ago."  

It is good to hear that recent advances allow successful DNA extraction from ancient remains even in the face of severe contamination. But most interesting to me is the suggestion that the DNA of the archers of the Mary Rose was utilized to pinpoint their origin in the British Isles. I believe most Briitsh longbow archers were recruited from Wales and the Welsh Marches (the English counties which border on Wales). If their DNA was used to narrow their origin beyond this, it would truly be a breakthrough. If anyone has connections with the University of Swansea perhaps they would contact them for further information and whether their analysis is pending publication.

I suppose I should have posted this note on the feneral DNA section instead of the that for R1b.

« Last Edit: January 13, 2013, 06:36:26 PM by GoldenHind » Logged
Arch Y.
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« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2013, 02:49:07 AM »

Wow! That is amazing and what good work! My understanding is the archers may have been Yeomen of the Guard prior to 1485, they would have been Yeomen of the Crown or Chamber. I believe if memory serves me right that Richard II was the king who sought out the archers of Macclesfeld Forest near the Peak District. The area around there was historically known for outlaws, etc. especially the Flash region. I believe originally they were chosen out of every lord's household as the most proficient archers. So the guys aboard the Mary Rose could be from anywhere in Britain. Elite archers pretty much to me indicates Yeomen of the Guard. The other interesting part of the story is about the war bow staves (I think they were unfinished). The Welsh archers were probably the originals from Henry IV when he came back to Britain from exile in France. Let's see, 1485 to 1545 is about 60 years, and I'm doubtful the bones are of the original men of the Guard established in 1485. 100 skeletons sounds about right for the elite archers of the crown. Let me think back to the Robin Hood ballads. "100 hundred archers dressed in rede and whyte", yep it's gotta be them--I hope.

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sernam
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« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2013, 01:34:20 PM »

The Welsh archers were probably the originals from Henry IV when he came back to Britain from exile in France.  Let's see, 1485 to 1545 is about 60 years, and I'm doubtful the bones are of the original men of the Guard established in 1485.

1485, Welsh?  Henry IV or Henry VII?
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« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2013, 10:50:50 PM »

The Welsh archers were probably the originals from Henry IV when he came back to Britain from exile in France.  Let's see, 1485 to 1545 is about 60 years, and I'm doubtful the bones are of the original men of the Guard established in 1485.
Oops! Good catch! Henry VII and from my understanding is that he built up a contingent of loyal Welsh archers before heading off to Bosworth.
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1485, Welsh?  Henry IV or Henry VII?
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sernam
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« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2013, 10:38:28 AM »

The Welsh archers were probably the originals from Henry IV when he came back to Britain from exile in France.  Let's see, 1485 to 1545 is about 60 years, and I'm doubtful the bones are of the original men of the Guard established in 1485.
Oops! Good catch! Henry VII and from my understanding is that he built up a contingent of loyal Welsh archers before heading off to Bosworth.
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1485, Welsh?  Henry IV or Henry VII?

I'm not sure of the composition of Henry's Welsh but considering S Welsh were well known as bowmen, I woul assume some were. IIRC Mr Twdr went back to Wales from France after le roi gave ol' Hank permission to recruit francais mercs (first pikemen in Britain probably) for taking the crown. After landing Henry raised Welsh supporters & then the Franco-Welsh Army went off to confront Ricky3 & the royal army. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQHK67KDOeU
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« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2013, 09:17:17 AM »

Well I think old Ricky 3 did a fine job of being a treacherous king! After learning about the Mary Rose and watching at least 3 documentary films on it, I was quite impressed. What is interesting is what they think is the reason why she sank--linguistic barriers. This is because the ship is mostly manned by men who probably spoke Spanish and the Captain was having a heck of a time communicating with them and vice-versa. I think over 65% of the crew was from other places than Britain. This certainly puts an interesting twist on things. I really suppose it's no surprise that most of the crew that did come from Britain came from the West Country or Wales itself. Which of course is famously known for archers such the archers of Gwent. The other famous groups of archers off the top of my head are the Macclesfeld Forest and Etterick Forest archers. Apparently these men were quite good at what they did.

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OConnor
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« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2013, 06:09:13 PM »

were there any dna sequences released?
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R1b1a2a1a1b4


R-DF13**(L21>DF13)
M42+, M45+, M526+, M74+, M89+, M9+, M94+, P108+, P128+, P131+, P132+, P133+, P134+, P135+, P136+, P138+, P139+, P14+, P140+, P141+, P143+, P145+, P146+, P148+, P149+, P151+, P157+, P158+, P159+, P160+, P161+, P163+, P166+, P187+, P207+, P224+, P226+, P228+, P229+, P230+, P231+, P232+, P233+, P234+, P235+, P236+, P237+, P238+, P239+, P242+, P243+, P244+, P245+, P280+, P281+, P282+, P283+, P284+, P285+, P286+, P294+, P295+, P297+, P305+, P310+, P311+, P312+, P316+, M173+, M269+, M343+, P312+, L21+, DF13+, M207+, P25+, L11+, L138+, L141+, L15+, L150+, L16+, L23+, L51+, L52+, M168+, M173+, M207+, M213+, M269+, M294+, M299+, M306+, M343+, P69+, P9.1+, P97+, PK1+, SRY10831.1+, L21+, L226-, M37-, M222-, L96-, L193-, L144-, P66-, SRY2627-, M222-, DF49-, L371-, DF41-, L513-, L555-, L1335-, L1406-, Z251-, L526-, L130-, L144-, L159.2-, L192.1-, L193-, L195-, L96-, DF21-, Z255-, DF23-, DF1-, Z253-, M37-, M65-, M73-, M18-, M126-, M153-, M160-, P66-

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Arch Y.
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« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2013, 04:29:54 AM »

Not that I'm aware of. Just isotopic data. It would be quite remarkable if they could manage to get DNA out of the mollusk and coral encrusted men. Those archers I'm certain were more than just elite archers, I'm not sure if the Yeomen of the Guard perhaps had a listing of these fellows as potential recruits out of a nobleman's castle or perhaps his forest "office".

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« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2013, 03:42:15 AM »

Of great interest is I want to know where those yew staves came from. The legends point to Spain and perhaps the best yew are those grown in higher elevations up to around 9,000 feet or 3,000 meters. There are few yew forests left in Europe. If I'm correct most of those "pure" yew forests are in the Pyrenees and the Cantabrian Cordillera. The Bedoya Valley in Cantabria, the Sierra del Sueve in Asturias, and I believe there are a few in the Basque and Navarre Pyrenean regions. The Picos de Europa seem to have the right limestone type soils, the right elevation, saltwater environment nearby for which yew trees seem to thrive on. It would be incredible to perhaps locate the forests mostly responsible for providing the wood for the great warbows. Also of note, most of the crew members of the Mary Rose were Spanish.

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