Digging for Britain Series 9

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History Documentary hosted by Alice Roberts, published by BBC in 2022 - English narration

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Image: Digging-for-Britain-Series-9-Cover.jpg

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Alice Roberts returns with a revamped series featuring extraordinary archaeological discoveries found across the UK, from a spectacular Roman mosaic to a secret World War II bomber.

[edit] East

Alice Roberts tours the East of England, seeking out the most outstanding archaeological digs of the year. Starting in style, she witnesses the uncovering of 'the most important Roman mosaic to be found in the UK in over 100 years' on seemingly featureless farmland in Rutland. She meets farmer's son Jim, who discovered that the field he had known his whole life actually had a large Roman villa complex lying just beneath his feet. During 2020’s long lockdown, Jim and his family entertained themselves by excavating an area that turned out to be exactly where a huge mosaic lay, just two feet under their field of wheat. Meanwhile, in the Lincolnshire fens, the site of a saintly hermit's hovel has been discovered. Archaeologists are digging where they believe a man called Guthlac set up home in the late seventh century, having renounced his riches to impress God with his sparse existence. Dr Onyeka Nubia follows up the dig with a visit to Cambridge University to examine an extravagant and very rare 1200-year-old book which details Guthlac’s life in order to understand why he became one of Britain's earliest saints. The Anglo-Saxons are centre stage again as the grave finds uncovered at a dig in a small town in Kent astonish even the most seasoned archaeologists. Some of the finest are brought to the new Digging for Britain tent for Alice to learn about the process of conservation and micro excavation from leading conservator Dana Goodburn Brown. Finally, Stuart Prior tries ale made to a previously unknown Anglo-Saxon recipe uncovered during a dig at a huge malting site in north Norfolk. New evidence suggests that Anglo-Saxons living in the east were growing cereal crops in ratios that linked them strongly with their cultural homelands in mainland Europe.

[edit] South

The south of England is the location for a rich and colourful selection of outstanding archaeology excavated in this episode. The HS2 High Speed Rail line from London to Birmingham has kept archaeologists busy for several years, but few sites have been as puzzling as the ruin of a Norman church just outside Stoke Mandeville. Known to date to 1080, the structure and over 300 skeletons had to be completely removed, and in doing so astonishing discoveries were made underneath. Alice Roberts visited the site and speculated that some of the stonework found could possibly be Roman. A few weeks later she was proved spectacularly right! Archaeology was breaking national news as, over just a few days, a haul of three lifesize Roman busts, eight burial urns and an exquisite glass vessel were recovered from the bottom of a ring ditch. Alongside these artefacts was a remarkable skeleton, minus its head but complete with coins, which could reveal almost exactly when all these items were violently tossed into the ditch and covered over. Was it the moment the Romans relinquished control in Britain 1600 years ago? On Salisbury Plain, a mysterious set of post holes has experts scratching their heads. If these were 3000-year-old Neolithic houses, what shape were these Bronze Age buildings, and what were the walls made of? Stuart Prior visits Butser farm, where experiments are under way to test various theories about how the walls of these important dwellings were made. Alice visits another outstanding site of Roman archaeology at Silchester, where a bath complex is being excavated. The experience of Mike Fulford means he has been able to pinpoint layers in the building that reflect the rise and fall of Roman power in Britain. Mike brings his best finds to the Tent Studio, where Alice learns what the occupants of Silchester got up to in their bathhouse complex. Among the finds are gaming pieces, bone dice and a stunningly ornate Roman belt buckle. On the banks of the river Thames in west London, a dig has revealed what is possibly the earliest known settlement ever uncovered in London. The archaeologists have also found what are thought to be some of the oldest coins ever made in Britain, possibly minted right there in Barn Elms in the Iron Age. Finally, on the seabed of the Solent, near the Isle of Wight, lies the site of what was a Mesolithic settlement. This was dry land 10,000 years ago; now marine archaeologists have taken a sample of the soil for DNA testing. At the lab, expert investigator Cat Jarman follows the process that allows scientists to determine what was being grown and eaten by the Mesolithic people. The appearance of wheat, 2000 years earlier than previously accepted, is a major revelation.

[edit] North

The show travels to the north of the UK to look at the most fascinating archaeology uncovered in the region over the course of 2021. In North Yorkshire, a team of community volunteers are digging down beneath Richmond Castle, one of the country’s oldest and best-preserved Norman castles, and what they find tells a rich 1000-year story, from its origins as a Norman stronghold to the intimate role it played as a prison for conscientious objectors during the First World War. On the northern tip of the Orkney Islands, our dig diary cameras are present to witness archaeologists racing to unearth rare discoveries from an endangered Neolithic tomb before it erodes into the sea. Ten miles east of Edinburgh, a team of keen volunteers are hunting for evidence of Scotland’s oldest railway - a pioneering, horse-powered wooden track that predates the era of steam trains by nearly a century. In the heart of the Peak District, only ten miles from Sheffield, archaeologists are using cutting-edge chemical analysis to find evidence of a rare Roman industry - lead processing. With no lead deposits in Italy, the Romans scoured their empire to track down and exploit this valuable resource, abundant in Britain. Dr Stuart Prior embarks on some experimental archaeology to investigate how the Romans turned raw lead metal into the water pipes and plumbing of the Roman Empire, and visits the world-famous Roman baths in Somerset to see authentic Roman plumbing in action. Stuart also discovers that the Romans had a surprising use for this versatile metal, with ancient bathers inscribing messages to the gods and curses on their peers. In Hull, archaeologists have a unique opportunity investigate an enormous cemetery from the industrial era, when the city flourished in a golden age of whaling and shipping. But discoveries of trauma and injuries to the human remains on site reveal the dangers of the emerging technologies of the Industrial Revolution.

[edit] Midlands

Alice Roberts travels across the Midlands, looking at the best archaeology uncovered last year in the heart of England. In a Digging for Britain exclusive, we join palaeontologist Dr Dean Lomax in the middle of the largest artificial lake in the country, Rutland Water. Today, this nature reserve is home to many species of wildlife, but the team here are unearthing evidence of a far more monstrous past. They are painstakingly removing the Jurassic clay to reveal a 180 million-year-old fossil– which they hope will be the largest of its kind ever found in Britain. Just outside Leicester, Alice joins a team of archaeologists who are investigating a mysterious mound thought to be an Iron Age hillfort, but what they unearth tells a rich story of bandits, religious crusades and connections across the medieval world. In Cambridge, our dig diary cameras are present to witness archaeologists unearthing an extraordinary array of exquisite artefacts from an early Anglo-Saxon cemetery. Historian Onyeka Nubia investigates astonishing traces of ancient textiles which have survived for over 1,500 years. Four years ago, a spectacular dig in the centre of the modern city of Leicester revealed incredible details of the origins of this Roman town. Now, archaeologists share their incredible discoveries in the Digging tent with Alice, including a tiny but exquisite key handle that provides new evidence for the brutality of Roman rule in Britain. Twenty-five miles outside Coventry, Alice goes to meet a huge team of archaeologists who are excavating a vast and unique Iron Age site. With generations of Iron Age roundhouses sitting next to a Roman-style villa, the site provides an opportunity for archaeologists to investigate the relationship between the two cultures, and ancient artefacts from the site could suggest they were in fact one and the same.

[edit] Somerset and Ireland

The west of Britain is explored for the best of its archaeological digs and post excavation discoveries. In north Somerset, archaeologists are blown away by the discovery of an entirely new Roman town in the intended pathway of some new electricity cables. Multiple, impressive layers of road building from the Roman era are revealed, including a spectacular section from the 4th century when Emperor Constantine presided over a boom in Britain's economy. On the sleepy hills of south Dorset, we finally discover the age of Britain's cheekiest giant chalk figure – the Cerne Abbas giant. Previous guesses ranged from the Bronze Age to the early Georgian period and anywhere in between. But a combination of miniature medieval snails and cutting-edge luminescence dating have narrowed the date of his origin to the late Anglo-Saxon era. Alice visits a Ministry of Defence dig on the chalky downs of Salisbury plain. A team of ex-servicemen working with Operation Nightingale, a charity that helps ex-servicemen and women suffering with PTSD, dig down to save an astonishing early Anglo-Saxon burial site from treasure hunters. A single large grave is surrounded by smaller graves, all revealing beads, combs, knives, rings and even a spear. Lead archaeologist Richard Osgood brings the best of the finds into the Digging for Britain tent to show Alice what they tell us about Anglo-Saxon migration. In Pembrokeshire, Alice revisits Whitesands Bay, where a team are excavating a mysterious collection of child burials. A strange ceremonial feature that has been uncovered shows clear evidence that early medieval people made great efforts to bury their dead children as close as possible to it. And in Northern Ireland, a dig finally locates the site of a WWII aircraft which crashed after a secret mission went terribly wrong. The families of the young men who died have asked a young team of volunteers to locate and recover any remaining debris and hold a proper memorial for their relatives.

[edit] Borders and Ireland

The north of England is so rich in archaeological finds that Alice Roberts is travelling back there once again to reveal more of its fascinating history. She starts this journey at that most spectacular of Roman monuments, Hadrian’s Wall. Alice is on site to witness a new dig at the famous Birdoswald Fort, once home to around 800 Roman infantrymen. She joins a team from Newcastle University as they uncover a completely new building, alluded to in the 1930s but never fully excavated until now. Next, we travel further north to learn more about the so-called barbarians that the Romans were so worried about. The dig is on the shores of the Moray Firth, where archaeologists are uncovering a fort which once belonged to the Picts. A wealth of new evidence suggests that far from being barbaric savages, they were a sophisticated people who were perhaps far more educated than anyone has given them credit for. Alice also visits the town of Rochdale in Lancashire, just ten miles outside Manchester, where a huge community dig is altering our understanding of the Industrial Revolution. Alice meets local families who are digging beneath the spectacular Gothic town hall to uncover the remains of terraces and tenement blocks that housed the working men and women of Rochdale, shedding new light on the way industrialisation changed our towns and cities. In Northern Ireland, another community dig highlights a particularly dark period of recent history, the Great Famine of the mid-19th century. For the first time in Northern Ireland, a team are excavating one of the island of Ireland’s many famine roads. These were roads built by the starving population. Often going nowhere, they were part of a misguided attempt by the British government to boost Irish infrastructure and support the hungry by forcing them to build roads in exchange for money to buy food. Historian Onyeka Nubia travels to London to search for evidence that might explain the British government’s reasoning for what turned out to be a futile relief effort. Back in Scotland, a new tramline being built from Edinburgh to Leith gives archaeologists the opportunity to study and preserve hundreds of skeletons unearthed at a graveyard dating back to 1300. This dig throws new light on the residents of Leith as they lived through 500 years of Scotland’s history. In the Digging for Britain tent, archaeologist John Lawson brings in one skeleton with a unique set of injuries, and an incredible facial reconstruction brings her vividly to life. Finally, a once-in-a-lifetime find under a golf course sets archaeological pulses racing as a Bronze Age wooden coffin is remarkably preserved in the waterlogged soil 3,000 years after it was buried.

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[edit] Technical Specs

  • Video Codec: x265 CABAC Main@L4
  • Video Bitrate: CRF 23 (~2404Kbps)
  • Video Resolution: 1920x1080
  • Video Aspect Ratio: 16:9
  • Frame Rate: 25 FPS
  • Audio Codec: AAC-LC
  • Audio Bitrate: 128Kbps CVBR 48KHz
  • Audio Channels: 2
  • Run-Time: 59 min
  • Number Of Parts: 6
  • Part Size: 1.04 GB (average)
  • Source: HDTV
  • Encoded by: JungleBoy

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