30th September 2005 at 01:00

Students might be fascinated to see how many children of their age actually fought in the Battle of Trafalgar. They might watch a scene from the recent Hollywood movie Master and Commander (which shows several young boys) and then use the Trafalgar Ancestors database at the National Archives web site (www.nationalarchives.gov.ukaboutappstrafalgarancestors) to see whether this representation is correct. They could use other fields in the database (eg whether any sailors had the same surnames as members of the class) to begin a process of research to reconstruct the life of a Trafalgar sailor.


Many students study aspects of historical interpretation such as historical reputations, memorials and popular histories. Students might explore further the misconceptions and myths which have grown up around Trafalgar and create their own presentations on themes such as "Trafalgar heroes", examining the role both of Nelson AND the sailors who made the Royal Navy the most formidable navy in the world. Another fun task is to use a site such as Multimap (www.multimap.com) to find all of the streets named after Nelson or Trafalgar. This is an unusual way to assess significance and could provide a platform to get students to investigate a key figure in their own course and make a case for this figure to have more streets named after him or her.


Students studying 18th century Britain might be encouraged to look for the complex web of connections and resources which made victory at Trafalgar possible - timber and ships from the Americas, the new inventions in the iron industry improving cannon technology, rope production on a vast scale, manpower for the ships.

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