I’m going to Granada on a Spanish course with friends so I will post something on the Alhambra!



mt-DNA, or mitochondrial DNA, is DNA inherited solely from the mother. It is found in the organelle mitochondria, in eukaryotic cells. These are cells that convert energy from food into energy that can be used, such as ATP.
Although inherited from the female line, in some species such as mussels, fruit flies and periodical cicadas, mt-DNA is inherited from the male line.

It was first discovered by Margit M.K Nass and Sylvan Nass by electron microscopy in the 1960s.

Haplogroups are groups of people sharing the same variation in mt-DNA.  It was used to trace early human origins back to Africa.  The haplogroups run from A-Z.  For example J stands for Jasmine, and she came from Eurasia.  At the root of the haplogroups there is one person, called matrilineal most recent common ancestor (MRCA) for all living humans, and is named Mitochondrial Eve.

When mt-DNA mutates, it can lead to diseases (in humans) such as Kearnes-Sayre Syndrome (KSS), which causes a person to lose full function of heart, eye, and muscle movements.

So, why am I even blogging about this?  This is a history blog, not a biology blog.  Well, mt- DNA can be used to identify bodies, such as Richard III, when he was found in a car park in Leicester.  The historian Dr John Ashdown-Hill traced the lineage of Anne of York, Richard’s sister, so she would carry the same mt-DNA through the female line . It was traced to a man called Michael Ibsen.  Mr Ibsen provided DNA which was matched to Richard III’s mt-DNA.  This proved that the body found in Leicester was, in fact, Richard III, along with the fact that records show he was buried in a Greyfriars church.

This is why a knowledge of mt-DNA is pretty important to someone who wishes to identify someone.

So what is history anyway?

So what is history?

If you look at the wordle picture, you will see that this is all the words someone associates with this subject. ‘Inconsistent’ appears on there, as does ‘understanding’ and ‘people’. History is certainly inconsistent, the changes of religion in Tudor England, for example. Understanding also seems appropriate.
By looking at history, only then can we gain true understanding of what lies ahead, by looking at people’s behaviour and situations. When you type history into google, the definition given is ‘the study of the past, particuarly with human affairs. So the word ‘people’ is also appropriate. But then I looked further, and I saw the word ‘historical’, pretty obvious, I thought, and past, also obvious.

So I came to the ‘Choose to make history’ image. Do we choose to ake history? Yes and no. Martin Luther King certainly chose to make history with his ‘I have a dream speech.’ But others don’t. Look at William Webb Ellis, the inventor of rugby. He didn’t choose to make history, but when he ran with a ball he did, and invented a world sport: rugby.    

The astronaut.  This is a photo of Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon.  This is literally history in the making.  He stepped out on the moon, and planted the USA flag, and there was an event people would learn about in years to come. 

The final picture, and, I think the most interesting, is the signpost picture.  Past, one way and future, another.  Past and futre are different ways?  Yes.  some people might say, of course, the past is behind us and the future ahead.  But there is a phrase ‘History keeps repeating itself.’  So the past and future are closer together than we thought.  But maybe we have to leave the past behind, to carry on to the future. 

Thank you for reading, and please leave a comment expressing your opinions!

Finally! The poll!

I hope this worked! Sorry if it didn’t…

BTW, there is a magna carta exhibition at the St Albans museum with a real part of it!  It is on loan from Lincoln Cathedral.


Please say whether you think King Jon=hn was a good or bad King after reading my last post! 🙂

Was King John really such a terrible king?

King John reigned from 1199 to 1216.  He is often pictured as a bad king but was he really a bad king?

John enforced heavy taxes. This, however, was because Richard 1 left the treasury empty.  This made John unpopular with the peasants and barons.  one baron said ‘We have to pay for his wars with heavy taxes.’   He was fighting a losing war with France.  If he hadn’t thought it, he would lose the land but because he did fight it he had a chance of retaining the land.  Also, if he had decided not to fight this would make him look like a bad king as well.  He wasn’t greedy, he was just trying to refill the treasury for his country’s good.

John quarreled with the Pope and consequently got excommunicated for 5 years.  This made lots of people angry again, as the church was very important to people in the middle ages.  A monk said ‘He was a tyrant… He lost Normandy and many other territories.’  This monk was biased because he was angry about being excommunicated.  I think he was wrong because a tyrant has aboslute control but John had hardly any control.

John was forced by his barons to sign the Magna Carta in 1215.  This ‘Great Charter’ sets out the rights of English freemen.  A modified version is the law now. A while later, John claimed he was forced to sign it.  This is the sign of a weak King.  This shows John was greedy and was trying to get the maximum power.  I think John was a weak leader for this events. 

Amongst these failures, John won battles against the Scottish and the Welsh.  The Irish accepted as thier overlord.  ‘He gave England a well organised navy and he enforced laws strongly and justly,’ one historian writes.  Although he was writing 900 years into the future, he looked at a number of sources.

I won’t say whether I think  King John was good or bad but I will post a poll for other people to say what they think. 

The roman baths

Ok, so sorry for the break, we’ve had exams which I’ve been revising for like crazy.

This post is going to be on the roman baths, as the title suggests.  We’ve been doing this a lot at school and was on our exam although I didn’t choose it.

The baths were a building in town.  They were there because most Romans didn’t have a bathroom of their own so the baths were just like communal bathrooms.

To go in was the equivalent of a couple of GBP and this would be paid at the entrance.  The first room you would come to would be the apodyterium– Latin word.  see end of post.  This had niches in the wall and there were slaves to guard your clothes as everyone went in naked.  Because of this, men and women bathed separately.

After the apodyterium, you would come the palaestra. This was a gym, outdoors and surrounded by a colonnade.  There were lots of activities such as discus and javelin throwing you could partake in.

Then came the tepidarium, which was basically like a sauna.  The customers just sat in this room and waited…

Until they came to the caldarium!  This hot room had a large pool of hot water where the bathers ‘sat or wallowed’ according to the Cambridge Latin Course book 1.  There were also marble slabs which the bathers lay on and were scraped by a strigil by a slave.  Then a masseur came and rubbed oil, the equivalent to soap, into your back.  You would then sluice off in a cool bath.

The frigidarium came next, this had a freezing plunge bath which must have been refreshing after a hot room and a warm room.  After this you got changed and went home.

The floor was heated with a hypocaust, using slaves to stoke the fire.  This was an idea that was stolen and improved from the Greeks.


Apodyterium- changing room

Palaestra- gym

Tepidarium- warm room

Caldarium- hot room

frigidarium- cold room

strigil- blunt instrument for scraping dead skin and dirt of people’s backs.

hypocaust- heating system where hot air was circulated around under the floor- hard to build in minecraft, I tried and failed.

Thank you for reading this post, and if you liked this blog then please tell people about it, thanks!

What to do next

Hi everyone, 

thanks for reading my blog!  I’m not sure what to blog about next so if you have any suggestions please tell me, thanks!

For Spitfire Holmes

You asked me to include the following things,




In the Tudor era, people didn’t wash so they had stinky feet.  The poor people kept cows for milk.  They drank wine or ale.  Wine is made from grapes.

There you are SH!  Can u start a blog now?


The Books of Kell, Armagh and Durrow

I went to Dublin in half temrn ans I visited Trinity college.  In the old library there were the book of Kells(hereafter known as BOK), the book of Armagh (BOA) and the Book of Durrow (BOD).

The BOD was written c.700 AD.  It is a copy of the Latin gospels and is decorated with the evangelists.  It has an elaborate opening page for each gospelier( this is the term I denote to a gospel writer-Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).  The opening page for each gospelier bears their symbol- Matthew ,the man; Luke, the calf; Mark the eagle and John, the lion.  However traditionally John and Luke were opposite symbols but they seem to have switched!  It is the oldest extant complete gospel book written in the Insular script (the block capitals of the day).  Some pages have been inserted in the wrong place and rebinding has considerably reduced the page size.  There are 7 carpet pages which are pages of geometric patterns before the gospels.  There are 6, but Matthew doesn’t have one, so it is thought that maybe there were originally 7 and one was lost.  The BOD was thought to have been written in the Scottish Hebrides on the isle of Iona, or in Northumbria.  Iona was the site of an important monastry founded in 563 AD by the monk Columba who was exiled from Ireland for his part in the battle of Cul Dreimhne. No, I don’t know how to pronounce that either but if you do, then can you leave a comment telling me how?! Thanks!

The BOA is the complete new testament in Latin and is the only copy to have survived the medieval period.  I am not sure about that fact!  Maybe it was just in Ireland? As well as containing the new testament, it also contains the biography of St Martin of Tours by a man named Sulpicius Severus.  Any relation to Severus Snape?  No offence Sulpicius Severus, but that biography is kinda stalkerish!  As well a a stalkerish biography it also contains a number of texts relating to St Patrick. The BOA is written in gothic script.  It is quite small compared to the BOK and can easily slip into a pocket. It is more rough and ready than the BOK.

The BOK is actually 4 books, presumably one for eeach gospelier.  It was written on calf-skin, or vellum.  185 calves were needed to write the BOK.  It is thought that 4 scribes wrote BOK in gothic script and a separate artist did all the beautiful decoration in pens made from reeds.  The scribes used pens made from swan or goose feathers.  BOK is decorated in Celtic decoration, using vegetal patterns and animal ornament.  Ghe snake appears a lot because it is the symbol of reincarnation when the snake is ‘reborn’ after shedding its skin.  However it is also the symbol for the fall of man because a snake tempted Eve in the garden of Eden. BOK was written in c.800AD and is famous because it is very old, beautifully decorated and very intricate.ImageThis is a photo of the Book of Kells!