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Mackenzie Crook (right) and Toby Jones (left) in their roles as Andy and Lance in the Detectorists
Image credit Chris Harris
Ben Dowell writes in the RadioTimes that –
Detectorists is a gem of a series, a buddy tale of two men who are as far from being ‘lads’ as it is possible to imagine, all set in beautiful English countryside where the sun always seems to shine – or at least peak through the clouds.
Their constant search for treasure below ground has always carried symbolic weight: searching for a purpose in life and, perhaps above all, for love.
So what happens now, when Mackenzie Crook’s metal detecting enthusiast Andy has left with his young family to follow his dreams in Botswana, and Toby Jones’s character Lance has unearthed actual treasure?
Detectorists series three starts on Wednesday, 8 November at 10pm on BBC4. More here
The Bridge of Brodgar, Orkney in 1875 by Walter Hugh Patton (1828-1895)
Source Wikimedia Commons
For those interested in archaeology, and ancient Britain, tonight’s program on BBC TWO from 9.00pm to 10.00pm should make fascinating viewing –
Orkney – seven miles off the coast of Scotland and cut off by the tumultuous Pentland Firth, the fastest flowing tidal race in Europe – is often viewed as being remote. Yet it is one of the treasure troves of archaeology in Britain. Recent discoveries there are turning the stone age map of Britain upside down. Rather than an outpost at the edge of the world, recent finds suggest an extraordinary theory… that Orkney was the cultural capital of our ancient world and the origin of the stone circle cult which culminated in Stonehenge.
More here.
Sir Tony Robinson (left), Mick Aston and Guy de la Bédoyère on a Time Team shoot in 2007
Image credit Guy de la Bedoyere. Source Wikipedia Commons
The Guardian reports that the British A-level Archaeology Certificate is to be scrapped –
Sir Tony Robinson, who fronted the hit television show Time Team, has condemned the recent scrapping of archaeology A-level as “a barbaric act”.
A petition has been launched to try to get the decision overturned which has already collected almost 6,000 signatures. Dr Daniel Boatright, subject leader for archaeology at Worcester Sixth Form College, who is leading the campaign said: “Specialist A-levels like archaeology are vital tools in sparking students’ interest in learning and in preparing vital skills for use when they go onto university courses.
The Chartered Institute of Archaeology (CIfA) said the decision was “extremely damaging” for the sector. Chief executive Pete Hinton said: “The A-level in archaeology is an important route into the archaeological profession … this should be seen as a serious affront to those who believe that the study of past cultures can bring both positive benefits in terms of cultural understanding, as well as practical transferable skills for students.”
Full article here. Sign the Petition here.
Mick Aston (left) at the Time Team Big Roman Dig of 2005 with Tim Taylor, Time Team’s originator and producer
Image credit G de la Bedoyere. Source Wikimedia Commons
Thousand of fans, all around the world, are supporting an online campaign for a special one-off Time Team tribute show to archaeologist Mick Aston who passed away in June 2013. They –
…have been signing an online petition to see Channel 4’s Time Team come together one final time to create a Time Team special dig episode in memory of the late Professor Mick Aston. Lee Brady, who organised the campaign, said: ‘The Campaign has been going amazingly well. We have now over 7,800 signatures from fans from all around the world, and we have even received support from Sir Tony Robinson, Helen Geake, Matthew Williams, John Gater and Francis Pryor from the show. ‘It’s building up so quickly and it’s something I started a few days after Mick sadly passed away. It would be great to do an episode in his memory, perhaps with everyone wearing those jumpers he used to wear. The programme should also return to the basics of pure archaeology, with a proper research structure put in place and not just become a dig for digging’s sake for the episode.’
On the campaign website Lee went on to say: ‘I’d like to thank everyone who has signed the petition, if there is to be no more Time Team in the future at least this could be an episode to allow it to go out with a bang.’
More here.
The last ever new episode of Time Team will go out this Sunday (7 September) on Channel 4 from 8:00pm. Titled The Boats That Made Britain… Sir Tony Robinson, Phil Harding and Francis Pryor join, “…a team of experts as they strive to reconstruct the Dover Boat – one of the oldest seagoing boats in the world.”
More on Francis Pryor‘s blog here. See also our earlier feature Bronze Age Boat to sail again.
One of the 4,000 year-old gilded bronze masks from the Sanxingdui archaeological site in Sichuan, China
Image credit: momo – Flickr: Gold Mask (黄金面罩). Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons
New three-part series beginning on BBC4 TV from 9:00pm, Wednesday 30 July.
Andrew Graham-Dixon pieces together the spectacular recent discoveries of ancient art that are re-defining China’s understanding of its origins. He comes face to face with an extraordinary collection of sophisticated alien-like bronze masks created nearly four millennia ago and travels to the Yellow River to explore the tomb of a warrior empress where he discovers the origins of calligraphy.
Always seeking to understand art in its historical context, Andrew visits the tomb of the first emperor and comes face to face with the Terracotta Army. He ends his journey in western China, looking at the impact of the arrival of Buddhism from India on the wondrous paintings and sculptures of the Dunhuang caves.
More on the BBC website here.
The Battle for Stonehenge: A BBC 2 Culture Show Special will be screened on Saturday, 21 June from 8:00pm on BBC 2 –
Stonehenge is our most famous prehistoric monument; a powerful symbol of Britain across the globe. But all is not well with the sacred stones. MPs have described the surrounding site as a ‘national disgrace’ and ‘shameful shambles’. Now, after decades of disputes over what should be done, English Heritage has just 12 months to create a setting that this unique monument deserves. But Stonehenge is more than a tourist attraction; it is also a temple.
In this hour-long Culture Show special, Alastair Sooke shows that Stonehenge has long been a place of conflict and controversy, and that passions still run high at the monument where druids, archaeologists and scientists all battle for the soul of Stonehenge.
More here.
The entrance to the ceremonial complex at Ahu Tongariki on Easter Island. A lone Moai statue stands at the entrance
BBC Four presents a TV programme tonight (Thursday, 30 February 2014) entitled Easter Island: Mysteries of a Lost World
The contrast between the majestic statues of Easter Island and the desolation of their surroundings is stark. For decades Easter Island, or Rapa Nui as the islanders call it, has been seen as a warning from history for the planet as a whole – wilfully expend natural resources and the collapse of civilisation is inevitable.
But archaeologist Dr Jago Cooper believes this is a disastrous misreading of what happened on Easter Island.
BBC Four from 9pm. More here.
King Alfred and the Anglo-Saxons. Written and presented by historian Michael Wood
BBC Four will broadcast this evening the first of three television programmes on Alfred the Great and the Anglo-Saxons –
King Alfred the Great fights a desperate guerrilla war in the marshes of Somerset – burning the cakes on the way- before his decisive victory at Edington. Creating towns, trade and coinage, reviving learning and literacy, Alfred then laid the foundations of a single kingdom of ‘all the English’. Filmed on location from Reading to Rome, using original texts read in Old English, and interviews with leading scholars, Michael Wood describes a man who was ‘not just the greatest Briton, but one of the greatest rulers of any time or place’.
Begins at 8pm and lasts for one hour. Written and presented by Michael Wood. Series Producer Rebecca Dobbs. More here.
The Heritage Trust
Realscreen reports yesterday that –
BBC2, France 5, the CBC, Smithsonian Channel, Australia’s ORF and ZDF Germany are among the broadcasters uniting for Stonehenge Empire, a two-part doc looking at Britain’s ancient Stonehenge site (pictured). The 2 x 60-minute production is being made by UK indie October Films with Canada’s Lightship Entertainment and Austria’s Interspot Film.
Davidson, the BBC’s commissioning editor for history and business programming, added: “This is a really exciting project which will, using drama, CGI and the latest archaeological discoveries, allow us to properly understand the achievements and character of the people that built it; people who mastered deep mining, sophisticated engineering, textile manufacturing, ship-building, ‘micro’ gold-working, metallurgy, glass making, overseas trade and complex astronomy and mathematics.”
Full article here.

One year after the death of astronomer and Sky at Night presenter Sir Patrick Moore, the BBC is reviewing the future of the programme. The plans to potentially axe the iconic show have caused outrage among the stargazing community

Karen Barker, in her petition, writes –
We started as a group of Open University students, who were made aware that the BBC was planning to cancel The Sky At Night.  This is something to which we strongly object. Since starting the campaign to save S@N, the BBC has stated that it is still in discussions about the future of the programme.
We are also concerned that once (if) the programme is brought back, its format will have been detrimentally changed.  We want to see it continue in much the same way as it always has: pitched in a scientific manner towards people who are knowledgeable on the subject, whilst retaining its accessibility for newcomers to the hobby with items aimed at them.  We believe that it should be presented by professional scientists and/or highly regarded amateurs, bringing the latest news and information on the subject to the people who want it.  We do not want to see it fronted by a generic television presenter, or a ‘celebrity’ with no connection to the hobby.  It is a specialist, scientific programme and should be treated as such and with respect to its origins and longevity.
Sign the petition here.
Glass rosewater sprinkler (6.5cm x 4.5cm approx). Roman (1-3 century ce)
Private collection, Great Britain
Series in which archaeologist Julian Richards returns to some of his most important digs to discover how science, conservation and new finds have changed our understanding of entire eras of ancient history.
Julian goes back to the excavation of two burials from Roman Britain – a wealthy man from Roman Winchester and a lavishly-appointed grave of a woman from the heart of London that holds a special and unexpected secret only recently unlocked.
Episode 1 of 4 begins on BBC 4 television at 20:00 on Wednesday, 1 May. Duration: 1 hour. More here.
Wiltonia sive Comitatus Wiltoniensis; Anglice Wilshire (1649) by Atlas van Loon
Reviewing in the 27 April-3 May edition of The Radio Times, Gill Crawford writes –
Archaeology isn’t a new, rigidly scientific discipline. According to Dr Richard Miles (presenter of 2010’s Ancient Worlds), the first person to set out to dig up the past was the Emperor Constantine’s aged mother Helena, who searched the Near East in the early fourth century for physical evidence of the life and death of Christ.
Richard Miles charts the history of archaeological breakthroughs in a mission to understand the ancient past. In the first programme [the first of three], he explores how the profession began by trying to prove a biblical truth.
The series begins Tuesday, 30 April from 9:00-10:00pm on BBC4 television with Archaeology: A Secret History. Episode one: In the Beginning. More here.
Stonehenge Restored

From the 1880 edition of Our Ancient Monuments And The Land Around Them by Charles Philip Kains-Jackson
Mark Prigg, writing in the MailOnline today, reports that –
Human beings were occupying Stonehenge thousands of years earlier than previously thought, according to archaeologists.
Research at a site around a mile from Stonehenge has found evidence of a settlement dating back to 7500BC, 5,000 years earlier than previous findings confirmed. And carbon-dating of material at the site has revealed continuous occupation of the area between 7500BC and 4700BC, it is being revealed on BBC One’s The Flying Archaeologist tonight [not all regions*].
Dr Josh Pollard, from Southampton University and the Stonehenge Riverside Project, said he thought the team may have just hit the tip of the iceberg in terms of Mesolithic activity focused on the River Avon around Amesbury. “The team have found the community who put the first monument up at Stonehenge, the Mesolithic posts 9th-7th millennia BC.”
Full article here. See also BBC News Wiltshire here and the article by Carly Hilts in Current Archaeology here.
* The Flying Archaeologist – Stonehenge is broadcast on Friday, 19 April at 19:30 BST on BBC One West and South. The series is broadcast nationwide from Wednesday, 1 May at 20:30 BST on BBC Four.
In partnership with English Heritage, BBC Four Television celebrates the story of British Heritage with a three part series charting the birth of the heritage movement in the country and legislation to safeguard old structures.
The first in the series, entitled From Old Bones to Precious Stones will be broadcast on Thursday, 7 March from 21:00.
Details here.


June 2022
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