Digging for Britain 12 January 2022: Wednesday on BBC Two

Series 9 Episode 5 of 6 – 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, includng 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. Previously 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 WW2 aircraft which crashed after a secret mission went terribly wrong. The families of the young men who died have tasked a young team of volunteers to locate and recover any remaining debris and hold a proper memorial for their relatives.

About Digging for Britain

Professor Alice Roberts follows a year of British archaeology, joining up the results of digs and investigations the length of the country.

This show is broadcast on BBC Four, also known as the British Broadcasting Corporation.

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Alex Matthews

Editor in chief of TV Everyday.

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