Time Team Specials
About the Show
From the secrets of Stonehenge to the hidden tunnels and dugouts of World War I, Sir Tony Robinson and the Team take on some very special archaeological assignments
The Boats That Made Britain
The Bronze Age was the time when the British landscape became civilised, with fields, farms and the first roads, but little evidence survives of what life was like three and a half thousand years ago.
In 1992, archaeologists in Dover town centre unearthed the most intact Bronze Age boat ever found.
Tony Robinson joins a team of experts as they strive to reconstruct the Dover Boat and so unlock the secrets of this mysterious time in our past.
Secrets of the Body Snatchers
Tony Robinson uncovers the shocking truth behind some of the most gruesome events of the 19th century, when criminals would break open graves at night to steal freshly buried bodies. Serial murderers like Burke and Hare chalked up double figures, driven by profit funded by a revolution in medicine that was desperate for corpses to dissect.
New research shows that the horror continued long after the Anatomy Act was introduced in 1830. In 1800, the only cadavers that were legally available to medical schools were a few executed criminals. So criminal gangs supplied snatched or murdered corpses to surgeons.
Grave robbers were feared and detested; their customers were some of the most respected members of society: the surgeons and doctors of the great teaching hospitals. These men were leading a revolution in medicine for the public good, but they would stop at nothing to get corpses to dissect.
In 100 years, 125,000 bodies were traded without the prior permission of the deceased. Dissection had gone from being a punishment for crime to a punishment for poverty.
Britain's Bronze Age Mummies
In 2500BC, Britain entered the Bronze Age, one of the most mysterious periods of our ancient past. As Tony Robinson discovers, most mysterious of all were the strange rituals, death rites and beliefs from this distant time.
The Time Team cameras followed a spectacular dig in the summer of 2013 on a long-forgotten burial ground clinging to the coast of north east England. It's called Low Hauxley, and back in the Bronze Age it was completely surrounded by water. The whole area may prove to have bodies in it - but one more winter storm and it could be washed away, so archaeologists are racing against time to excavate it before it's too late.
Elsewhere, Tony and fellow Time Team stalwarts Francis Pryor and Phil Harding tour the country to investigate other bizarre recent finds that are changing our understanding of the Bronze Age: holes drilled into human bone, magical objects buried with the dead, and even mummified remains, right here in Britain.
In the Orkneys, they join a dig on a huge site unveiling ancient temples of a scale never before seen in this country.
The Edwardian Grand Designer
High above Dartmoor stands a windswept and spectacular country home that looks as ancient as the landscape it's set in: Castle Drogo. But this remarkable building was only constructed 100 years ago, the last castle ever built in Britain.
Today, this landmark building is under serious threat. In their biggest current project, costing £11m, the National Trust is restoring the castle, replacing almost the entire roof before the building rots to pieces.
Time Team has exclusive behind-the-scenes access to the hugely ambitious restoration project.
But for Tony Robinson, the castle is just one piece of evidence that its architect, Sir Edwin Lutyens, was a genius of British design. He is one of the few people who have stamped their name on our built heritage, and Tony heads off around the country, to France and to India to understand his unique achievements.
Lutyens built glorious houses for the Edwardian super-rich, but he also built some of the greatest monuments of the British Empire. After the First World War, he designed the innovative memorials that still define how we remember the fallen.
Perhaps his greatest triumph was his work on New Delhi, where he reshaped an entire capital city. At its heart was Lutyens' masterpiece: the spectacular Viceroy's Palace, which is still the home of the President of India.
From country houses to The Cenotaph, Lutyens has been named by some as the greatest British architect since Sir Christopher Wren. With help from Grand Designs' Kevin McCloud and Time Team's Phil Harding, Tony explores the man and his work.
The Madness of Bedlam
Seven hundred years ago the world's first lunatic asylum opened for business in Bishopsgate, London.
It soon became known as Bedlam Hospital. Even today, it's a name that conjures up images of madness and terror.
And, as Tony Robinson discovers in this Time Team Special, Bedlam's reputation is quite justified.
1066: The Lost Battlefield
Tony Robinson gives the history books one in the eye by discovering where the Battle of Hastings was really fought. The battle is the most famous in English history but not a single bit of archaeological evidence for it has ever been found. Have historians put the battlefield in the wrong place?
Time Team set themselves the task of uncovering the true location of England's most famous defeat.
For decades there has been dispute over the site, even though Battle Abbey is supposed to stand exactly where Harold fell. In 2012 a bestseller claimed that Caldbec Hill, a mile away, was the real site. But most historians still believe the main focus of the fighting was in the fields below the Abbey.
Time Team excavate both sites to seek evidence of either one being a battlefield.
Digging alone is inconclusive. But a cutting edge aerial technology called LIDAR to map the terrain proves that the traditional battlefield would have been too boggy for William's Norman cavalry.
So military analysts study the data to see where Harold, a skilled commander, would most likely have mounted his defence against William's invading army.
They identify the only ideal battlefield. It seems Harold's fearsome Saxon shield wall straddled a narrow strategic pass that is on today's A2100.
It leads to a surprising conclusion about where the heart of the battle was fought, and why William won and Harold lost.
The Lost Submarine of WWI
Today's submarines are vast, billion-pound, high-tech monsters with a nuclear payload that can level cities. But the story of Britain's first submarines began over a century ago, with inventors risking life and limb in a range of bizarre contraptions.
Sir Tony Robinson joins forces with expert diver and historian Innes McCartney to uncover the experimental origins of Britain's Submarine Service, through a series of wreck dives, underwater blast tests and hands-on demonstrations.
At the start of the 20th century, Britain lagged far behind Germany in developing these new weapons, but by 1914 they had caught up, in an underwater arms race that would play a vital role in World War I.
Now underwater archaeology in the English Channel is shining new light on this story. This Time Team Special reveals how information revealed by Innes's dives and the team's experiments is helping to map the successes and failures of the submarine pioneers.
With the help of Phil Harding, Tony demonstrates how these early machines were turned from catastrophic death-traps into weapons of war, and reveals how German U-boats came within weeks of defeating Britain and her allies.
This is a forgotten chapter of underwater history: the story of the birth of a weapon that changed the world.
The Secret of Lincoln Jail
Lincoln has been dominated by its castle for over 1000 years. Its high stone walls and gatehouses were built to impress the locals with Norman power, and it has housed medieval dungeons and Victorian and Georgian jails.
Extraordinarily, today the castle is still a centre for justice and punishment, containing an active court.
As part of a £19million refurbishment programme, a preparatory archaeological dig at the castle is revealing new secrets about the horrors of its early jails.
Sir Tony Robinson and the Time Team cameras have had exclusive access to the dig. With help from Phil Harding and Alex Langlands, Tony traces the story of punishment over the course of a millennium.
He discovers that, behind the walls of Lincoln Castle, the Victorians launched an experiment in prison justice that pushed human beings to their limits.
Some went mad, many died, and the prison regime broke down in shocking circumstances. In this grim jail in the heart of the city, something went badly wrong.
This Time Team Special explores the hidden corners of this spectacular site and the extensive historical records to find out why.
Britain's Stone Age Tsunami
Tony Robinson reveals astonishing new evidence that shows how, 8000 years ago, a huge tsunami swamped the east coast of Britain.
The new research also explains the tsunami's cause, and transforms our understanding of the people whose lives it devastated.
Like recent tsunamis in the Indian Ocean and Japan, Britain's tsunami was a phenomenally destructive force, with waves as high as 10 metres in many places.
But new research on the people who faced those waves has forced a new appreciation of the impact of the wave's destruction.
For years, these Mesolithic communities were thought to be primitive hunter-gatherers. But through remarkable new archaeological excavation, Tony discovers that people in Britain at that time were living comfortable, settled lives in their own houses, with varied diets and sophisticated skills.
The tsunami didn't just scare a few cavemen; it swamped a civilisation.
It was also the most dramatic incident in a long and volatile epoch of climate change that eventually separated Britain from continental Europe, and set the shape of our current coastline.
In 6000 BC, Britain was still joined to the rest of Europe by Doggerland, an area of dry land the size of Germany, where thousands of Mesolithic people lived.
In the programme, scientists take Tony on an astonishing virtual journey through Doggerland's rich and plentiful landscape, which was to be destroyed by the tsunami and then persistent flooding as the world's ice melted.
And they also reveal how the tsunami was caused by melting ice, triggering a chain reaction that left a trail of destruction from the top of these islands to the bottom.
Rediscovering Ancient Britain
For thousands of years, nomadic tribes roamed freely across Britain. But by 5000 BC they were starting to settle down, and a landmark of the south west - the Dorset Ridgeway - became a magnet for thousands.
For many experts, the Ridgeway is as important as Stonehenge in understanding the lives of our prehistoric ancestors. The ridge of high land running parallel with the coast between Weymouth and Dorchester has been an important place for people since the Neolithic period, from 4000 to 2000 BC.
There are no fewer than 1000 ancient monuments that record the history of the Ridgeway since that time, including baffling great henges that showcased unexplained rituals, at least one of which involves a giant stone penis; a town built on top of a massive Iron Age hill fort; and a deadly and terrifying Roman war machine.
Time Team investigate, and reveal how the latest scientific advances are shedding new light on the way our Stone Age ancestors lived. The extraordinary range of monuments on the ridgeway make it one of the richest archaeological sites in Britain, and Time Team's journey along its length is a journey through thousands of years of human occupation.
Secrets of the Saxon Gold
In July 2009, amateur metal detectorist Terry Herbert found an Anglo-Saxon treasure hoard worth over £3 million in a Staffordshire field. Now, with the initial phase of the post-excavation process nearing completion, archaeologists are beginning to unlock the secrets of the hoard.
After further digging and carefully unpicking the jumble of finds, experts from Birmingham and Stoke-on-Trent Museums have realised there were over 3500 objects buried in this small area with the gold alone weighing 11 pounds.
Thanks to their painstaking restoration work and application of the latest scientific techniques, they can understand the function of these objects, begin to explain how and why they came to be here, and pinpoint the origins of the hoard's raw materials.
The gold itself was analysed by scientists at the British Museum, where a technique known as 'X-ray fluorescence' revealed it to be equivalent to 18 carats.
Set into the gold are 3000 individual garnets, ranging in colour from ruby red to deep purple and pink. No garnets were mined in Britain in Anglo-Saxon times, so these must have come from further afield. Top gemstone experts based at the Louvre in Paris analysed the stones in a particle-accelerator beneath the museum.
The information the museum experts have extracted is changing our understanding of the so-called 'Dark Ages'. The evidence points to the existence of a large and wealthy elite warrior class, and reveals the remarkable skills of the Anglo-Saxon craftsmen who made these intricate treasures 13 centuries ago.
Searching for Shakespeare's House
Tony and the Team join a group of archaeologists as they dig the site of William Shakespeare's house, New Place, in Stratford-upon-Avon.
There's little of it above ground now, but records show it was Tudor Stratford's biggest private home, with up to 20 rooms and a dozen servants. However, in 1702, New Place was demolished to make way for a grand Georgian pile.
That Georgian house sat right on the street, so for the last hundred years or more, it's been assumed that it was also the site of New Place. But a recently discovered document casts doubt on that theory.
And with the site now accessible, the archaeologists aim to show for the first time not only where Shakespeare really did live with his family but also how grand his house was.
And that raises two intriguing questions about Shakespeare: Why did he want such a grand home? And where on earth did he get the money from?
Brunel's Last Launch
Nowadays, London's East End is synonymous with the 2012 Olympic Games. Cutting-edge engineering and design have transformed the Olympic Park. But 150 years ago, the world was watching for a very different reason, although the spectacle on display was as high-tech as anything on offer today.
The East End was once home to the most advanced shipbuilding industry - and best workers and shipyards - in the world.
A century and a half ago, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Britain's most famous engineer, was about to launch a ship five times bigger than any that had ever been built before, the most revolutionary vessel the world had ever seen: the SS Great Eastern.
Pioneering the transition from sail to steam and timber to iron, Brunel and East London's ship builders created vessels that were bigger, faster and tougher than ever before.
But this launch was a disaster. Brunel went from hero to laughing stock overnight as his leviathan stuck on the slipway. Brunel died not long after.
Today archaeologists are scouring the banks of the Thames to discover why launching such a big vessel proved a complete disaster. Examining the slipways, they hope to discover what went wrong and how it affected shipbuilding in London for ever.
Tony Robinson joins them in their quest to solve the puzzle. But he and the team also explore some of the extraordinary successes of this long-gone industry and a time when the East End led the world.
Pugin: The God of Gothic
Tony Robinson and Kevin McCloud take a journey into the world of architect and designer Augustus Pugin and follow the renovation of his former home, The Grange in Ramsgate.
Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (1812-1852) designed and built six cathedrals, 40 churches and numerous private houses. His designs, buildings and writings shaped the way the Victorians thought about architecture.
The Way We Lived
Tony Robinson and Mick Aston dig out the best bits of over 200 Time Team episodes to tell the story of how our domestic lives have changed over 10 millennia.
Until about 10,000 years ago our ancestors moved from site to site setting up house where they could find food and water. Then everything changed. People realised they could control the land, stay put and build more permanent and more comfortable houses.
Tony and Mick reveal how those very first houses evolved into what we know today, and find out how settling down changed the way we live.
Boudica's Lost Tribe
Boudica is revered as one of the greatest female warriors in history. Tony Robinson traces her story and follows a major excavation in Norfolk that may hold the key to uncovering what happened to Boudica's tribe after they were defeated by the Roman army.
Boudica's tribe, the Iceni, used to make exquisite torcs: jewellery that required metalworking skills more advanced than anywhere else in the world; and they left behind some of the greatest treasures of prehistory.
When the Romans threatened their way of life, the tribe dared to take on the full might of the Roman Empire. But the tribe's revolt failed and as Boudica disappeared from history so did the Iceni.
Tony visits Caistor St Edmund, a small English village that 2000 years ago was known as Venta Icenorum. In clear aerial pictures, it appears that the area was a significant Roman town in the heart of Iceni territory.
This Time Team Special asks whether the town was built on top of a tribal centre in order to punish the Iceni rebels, and considers whether imperial Rome simply crushed the Iceni or if Boudica led her tribe to destruction.
Tony Robinson and geophys boffin John Gater look back over 200 digs at the extraordinary achievements of cutting-edge geophysics technology, which has uncovered lost Roman villas, tombs, temples and ancient monuments, as well as a host of old broken tractor bits and enigmatic ditches.
The science of geophys has changed out of all recognition: 20 years ago the team huddled around a dotmatrix printer as it slowly produced a geophysical picture of an abbey hidden underground; now they can produce complex three-dimensional images of whole buildings within minutes.
In an effort to finally understand what geophys actually means, Tony buries 10 objects in a field and challenges John to use his technological arsenal to identify them all, without digging. Can geophys now tell the difference between a bicycle and a toilet?
Britain's Lost Roman Circus
After three years of painstaking work just outside Colchester's Roman walls, archaeologists knew they had found something unusual. Around the parallel walls that had enclosed a huge structure they discovered hundreds of burials, some containing charioteer coins and others piles of horse jawbones.
Gradually the archaeologists pieced together the evidence to discover that they had uncovered the only Roman circus ever found in Britain and one of only a handful in northern Europe.
Colchester is the oldest garrison in Britain and the site of the most famous event in the Roman invasion: when Claudius rode in on the back of an elephant.
Today the circus, which was built for legionnaires to enjoy their favourite sport of chariot racing, sits beside the barracks of a modern cavalry regiment. It is an extraordinary tale of 2000 years of life in this Essex town.
The Somme's Secret Weapon
In the half-light of dawn, on the frontline of the Somme battlefield on 1 July 1916, a small metal nozzle pushed its way up through the ground in No Man's Land to point at the German front line.
On the signal, a terrifying stream of burning oil shot out of the nozzle, drenching the German trenches in flaming diesel. The soldiers that didn't flee would have burned alive.
It was the day the British army launched an all-out assault in northern France. Along the 16-mile front, tens of thousands of soldiers died and the only ground that the British forces captured was around the village of Mametz, where historian Peter Barton believes that a top-secret and terrible weapon, known as a Livens Flame Projector, was deployed.
Although there are plans and secret war diaries, not one piece of this weapon exists in any museum in the world.
Tony Robinson joins a unique dig near Mametz, delving into the past to find out whether or not this weapon really was deployed and, if so, whether it really worked in the way that was described. And, employing the skills of the Royal Engineers, a replica Livens Flame Projector fires up for one last, terrifying, time.
The Lost Dock of Liverpool
Time Team came to Liverpool for this special documentary as the city celebrated its 800th anniversary in 2007 and prepared for its role as European City of Culture in 2008.
Some of the regular team members, including Phil Harding (on unfamiliar urban turf), Helen Geake, Stewart Ainsworth and Jonathan Foyle, joined local experts and other archaeologists to investigate the landscape, explore the buildings that made Liverpool great and, most importantly, follow the archaeology as a series of huge digs took place in advance of three major building projects.
The first of these sites was on the waterfront at the Pier Head, where preparations for a new museum uncovered one of Liverpool's first docks. The second, a little way inland, was being cleared to make way for new development; here archaeologists were looking to explore a long-vanished, early dockside settlement. The biggest prize, though, the site of Liverpool's first dock, lay under the billion-pound, 42-acre Paradise Project.
Time Team followed the archaeologists as they investigated the three sites ahead of the new construction work.
The Real Knights of the Round Table
Over the August bank holiday weekend in 2006, the Big Royal Dig saw Time Team exploring the royal palaces of Holyroodhouse, in Edinburgh, Buckingham Palace, in London, and Windsor Castle, in Berkshire.
Founded by William the Conqueror, Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world. Time Team's aims during the Big Royal Dig included attempting to unearth Edward III's round-table building, originally built to house a giant round table around which Edward planned to seat his own knights from his newly created Order of the Round Table.
Documentary evidence suggested that this lay under the Queen's ceremonial lawn in the Upper Ward at Windsor, but it had never been firmly located or excavated.
For Chris Gaffney, who carried out a detailed geophysics survey of the Upper Ward prior to the excavations, there was never any doubt about where to look. A 'lovely circular anomaly' that showed up on the ground-penetrating radar survey gave the diggers a clear target to aim for. At about 2.5 metres wide, it was more than big enough to have supported a huge structure - and amidst all the debris some fragments of 14th-century pottery provided dating evidence from the right period.
The scale of the structure also matched contemporary accounts. The historians researching these documents thought that the references to it being 200 feet in diameter - bigger than the Pantheon in Rome - might have been a mistake or an exaggeration. But the geophysics survey and the excavations left no doubt: it had indeed been a massive construction, easily capable of accommodating the 300 knights it was designed for.
The discovery of the round-table site is one of national significance. For this programme, Time Team assembled what it had found and brought together the various documentary evidence and experts to paint a picture of the 14th-century Real Knights of the Round Table.
Wars of the Roses
The Battle of Bosworth was the decisive battle of the Wars of the Roses. It was the beginning of the end of three decades of treason, rebellion and dynastic warfare. Against huge odds, Henry Tudor won the day to take the English Crown. It was a turning point in English history, the end of the Middle Ages and the savage beginnings of the country we recognise today. For five years, a team of archaeologists have been combing this blood-stained ground. What these archaeologists have found is changing the entire understanding, not just of this iconic battle, but the very nature of warfare at this time.
Experts now believe that the battle was not only fought in an entirely different place from the 'official' site but that gunpowder weapons, including large cannon, were used in far larger numbers than previously thought.
In order to test these theories the team build and fire replica cannons and cannon balls, and deploy sophisticated ballistics cameras. The team visit a neutron facility where archaeological scientist Evelyne Godfrey is making 3D tomography images of the cannonballs.
The conclusions they draw radically change the view of medieval warfare being ruled by knights in shining armour.
Jamestown: America's Birth Place
Thirteen years before the Pilgrim Fathers set sail from Plymouth in the Mayflower, 105 men in three ships established the first permanent English settlement on the American continent. They named it Jamestown, after James I, who was king of England at the time.
In 1698 following a fire, the original site of Jamestown was abandoned. In 1994 an archaeological project to see what could be found out about old Jamestown was set up.
As Time Team discovered, some of the finds have been stunning.
Secrets of the Stately Garden
Behind the elegance of the stately gardens that now define the British landscape lies a story that combines exotic exploration, scientific innovation and revolutionary thought, not to mention an unexpected helping of sexual innuendo.
Tony Robinson follows an ambitious two-year restoration of Prior Park garden near Bath, and also embarks on a journey through time to decode the secrets of England's stately gardens. In the process he visits extraordinary grottos and fanciful follies, and uncovers sexy secrets concealed in apparently classical designs.
And on his own grand tour Tony travels to the breathtaking Hadrian's Garden, near Rome, the inspiration for so much we see in the traditional English garden.
The Enlightenment thinkers of the 18th century were overturned the starchy formalities of their ancestors. Scientific discovery gave them power over nature for the first time, and the growth of trade brought exotic plants, animals and ideas to these shores - the likes of which had never been seen before.
While digging a huge site in the middle of London, archaeologists uncovered two extraordinary Roman cisterns. At the bottom of each lay the remains of a complex mechanism for drawing water out from these five metre-deep containers.
Tony, Mick and the Time Team are joining up with engineers, technologists and historians in an attempt to reconstruct one of these unique machines - and, in the process, discover how they worked and what they were for.
Gradually the oak and iron components are pieced together, but whether the machine will actually work when all the parts are assembled is anyone's guess. The road to eventual success turns out to be quite a rocky one and, as the deadline looms ever nearer, it's not just the ropes that end up getting frayed...
The Real Vikings
Tony Robinson, Mick Aston and Phil Harding follow digs around the UK that uncover a vast array of archaeology and provide fascinating insights into our Viking past.
Three centuries of Viking occupation left an indelible print on the British Isles. Their legacy has shaped the Britain we live in today and the Vikings have had a huge influence on our culture; from the way we live to the words we use.
The Vikings are notoriously known as fearsome, axe-wielding warriors who relished their reputation as bloodthirsty invaders, and the discovery of mutilated skeletons in this Time Team Special does little to alter this reputation. However, they were also successful global traders, technological pioneers and world-wide mariners.
The Team report from excavations across the country, from Orkney to the south coast, but it is in Hungate, York that the biggest discoveries are made. This huge dig uncovers the thousand-year-old Viking remains of streets, houses and a trading centre.
Using all this research, Tony and the Team paint a new and much more complex picture of these skillful and enterprising people.
The Secrets of Westminster Abbey
Tony and the Team go behind the scenes at Westminster Abbey to explore the story of the Cosmati pavement: the mosaic floor being uncovered for the first time in 100 years.
Also known as 'The House of Kings', Westminster Abbey has stood at the heart of the nation for nearly 1,000 years, surviving the Civil War and Reformation.
While visitors marvel at the royal paraphernalia and the majesty of the architecture, it remains at the core of the Establishment, and still plays host to the Coronation.
For a century, the Cosmati pavement - a huge, mystical mosaic floor in front of the altar at the centre of which the Coronation Chair is placed - has been covered by carpet.
Now Time Team cameras are allowed unprecedented access behind the scenes at the Abbey as this extraordinary piece of living history is revealed.
As well as exploring the story of the Cosmati pavement, the Team also have access to a night-time search under the floors for lost tombs and graves, a shrine that still attracts pilgrims after 800 years and the 1,000-year-old faked documents that gave the Abbey the right to host the Coronation in the first place.
In the 18th century the Royal Navy was the most successful fighting force in the world. To maintain this status it desperately needed better ways of looking after its sick and wounded, so in 1746 it decided to build the best hospital the country had ever seen, near the Portsmouth dockyard at Haslar.
Costing £100,000, it was the biggest construction project in the country, and for over 250 years Haslar treated sailors from The Battle of Trafalgar to the Gulf War, until in 2009 the hospital closed its doors on the sick for the last time.
Between 1757 and 1826, thousands of seamen and marines of the Royal Navy are believed to have been buried in a Navy-designed cemetery in a field beside the hospital.
Exactly how and where they were buried is not known and, as part of the closure programme, the cemetery has to be excavated, to find out where the burials are and how many there might be.
Time Team followed the archaeologists as they uncovered multiple burials and carefully analysed the remains, providing extraordinary insight into what life was like in the Georgian Navy.
There were no headstones and no records, but painstaking research built a picture of how and why the men ended up anonymously buried at Nelson's hospital.
Dover Castle has dominated the White Cliffs since it was built in 1180 by Henry II. But building it had nothing to do with defending Britain's shores; the story behind its vastly expensive construction is one of royal embarrassment and political prestige.
It was the Millennium Dome of its day: vast, ridiculously expensive and built to show off the best we can offer. It looks like a quintessentially English castle, but is nothing of the sort; it's French to its foundations. It provides a fascinating insight into the medieval world.
For years, the castle has been empty, grey and dull: a shadow of its former self. But in 2008 English Heritage decided to undertake an extraordinarily bold piece of restoration. They planned to make over the main rooms of the castle to recreate them as they would have been in Henry II's time.
It was a huge, ambitious project, bringing together historians, designers and around 150 craftsmen. Everything was commissioned to be authentic: furniture, decorations, books, ornaments and tapestries. It provided a unique opportunity to see what the 12th century really looked like.
No one knew if it would work until it all came together in a few days before opening to the public. Time Team's cameras were invited behind the scenes. Tony Robinson tracks the whole process, meeting the key players at all stages and, of course, seeing the end result.
Britain's Drowned World
Ten thousand years ago, before sea levels rose at the end of Ice Age, a huge area of land connected Britain to the European continent.
'Doggerland', as it has been dubbed, possessed rich natural resources and would have been a mini-paradise for the Mesolithic hunter-gatherers who dwelt there.
In this Time Team Special, Tony Robinson and the team call upon the leading experts to piece together the story of this fascinating drowned world.
Castle of the Saxon Kings
Tony and the Team help investigate the Saxon roots of Bamburgh Castle, high on rocky cliffs in Northumberland above the vast North Sea beach and with the magical island of Lindisfarne visible in the distance.
It's been a seat of power for thousands of years and has long held the attention of archaeologists. The Team are at Bamburgh to help the Bamburgh Research Project, which for a decade and a half has been digging through 1000 years of history to uncover the Saxon roots of this fortress.
Bamburgh was once home to the 'Bernician Kings', Anglo Saxon overlords who ruled great swathes of Britain. Could there be a unique stone-built hall under the carefully manicured lawns of today's castle?
As the Team hear stories of brutal death and financial wealth, and examine finds of gold jewellery and stone thrones, Phil and the diggers edge closer to a tantalising discovery.
The Secrets of Stonehenge
Stonehenge is the nation's most famous monument. For centuries, its age and purpose have been subject to speculation, excavation and fantasy. But over the last six years, a huge new team of archaeologists have been digging not just the monument but the entire prehistoric landscape that focuses on Stonehenge, to reveal the truth about this near-mythical place and crack its secrets.
Time Team's cameras have been with the dig through those six summers. During their excavations the team discovered the biggest Neolithic settlement in Northern Europe, which suggests they have found the place where the people who built Stonehenge were based. But the digs also reveal that Stonehenge was just part of a vast ritualistic landscape where ancient peoples celebrated life and death in great man-made structures.
The archaeologists believe that the landscape was turned into a huge and complex special ceremonial route for the remains of the departed as they pass into the afterworld. But these theories are only proved in their last summer of digging in 2008, as the team start to dig in the stone circle itself. The results surpass their wildest dreams and this pivotal excavation finally enables the team to reveal not only when Stonehenge was built and how it was built but, perhaps most importantly, why it was built.
The Wreck of the Colossus
In 2001, divers discovered one of the most exciting naval artefacts ever found in British waters, part of the wreck of the 18th century warship The Colossus. This Time Team special follows Tony and the Team as they join divers fighting to recover the ship's treasure and piece together the history of this old warship.
The Colossus has many stories to tell: it was a state-of-the-art vessel that joined Nelson's fleet during the Battle of the Nile. But it was wrecked off the Scillies in 1798 and lay untouched for almost 200 years.
In the 1970s part of the wreck was discovered, but it is only now that the ship's great-carved stern has begun to be revealed by the shifting sands.
Henry VIII's Lost Palaces
In this feature-length Time Team Special , Tony Robinson and the Team make their inimitable contribution to marking the 500th anniversary of Henry VIII's accession to the throne.
In a spectacular and sumptuous film, they discover Henry the architect, designer, sportsman, devout Churchman and European statesman, far from his bad-tempered, murderous and overweight image.
He was the most prolific, and probably the most demanding and talented, palace builder in the history of this nation. Inheriting a handful of draughty medieval castles masquerading as palaces, at the end of his reign he had no fewer than 55 buildings to his name, many of which had been built from scratch or renovated. Some were designed by Henry himself.
Through his desire to copy the finest achievements of the European Renaissance and to surround his monarchy with splendour and pomp, Henry transformed the way the monarchy lived in Britain, forging a pattern that remains largely unchanged today.
The team have unprecedented access behind the scenes at Hampton Court where they search for Henry's famous jousting yard and bowling alley. In Essex, the first palace Henry built for himself is revealed and excavated for the first time. They hunt down the site of the extraordinary temporary palace he built at the Field of the Cloth of Gold in France. A stone's throw from the Vatican in Rome, they discover the Palace that Henry owned, and the one nearby that inspired his greatest feat of building at Nonsuch Palace in Surrey.
As Tony tracks the progress of his great building works, so the story of the man's life comes into focus: his loves and losses, fears and faith.
Henry VIII's Lost Palaces
Tony Robinson and the Time Team mark the 500th anniversary of Henry VIII's accession to the throne. He was the most prolific and talented palace builder in the history of this nation.
The Ten Million Pound House
Hidden away in Kent is an architectural gem, a building that is important not because it's bigger or better than any other but because it has survived, complete with all the many changes and bodges made to it over the course of seven centuries.
It's a Grade I listed building, a Scheduled Ancient Monument and, according to Pevsner, 'the most complete small medieval manor house in the country'. It's also been the subject of the National Trust's most ambitious and expensive renovation project in its history.
Ightham Mote is a magnificent moated manor house in the small village of Ightham, near Sevenoaks. Beginning in 1989, it has literally been taken apart brick by brick and beam by beam revealing the hidden history of the house for the first time.
Time Team tells the story of this different kind of archaeology as the renovation of the final section of the house, the south-west quarter, was carried out in 2003-2004.
Journey to Stonehenge
In a major excavation, archaeologists link the henge at Durrington to its more famous neighbour, Stonehenge, and uncover an extraordinary picture of Stone Age life.
Buried by the Blitz
During World War II, the Blitz destroyed countless homes, factories and civil defences. Dorchester Street in Shoreditch was one of thousands of streets in London that were bombed constantly, and was finally hit by a V2 long-range rocket bomb.
To commemorate the 60th anniversary of VE day, archaeologists from the Museum of London enlisted the aid of dozens of volunteers to excavate the street, now lying under grassland in Shoreditch Park.
The street dates back at least 200 years and there is a wealth of photographs, documents, newspaper reports, diaries and census returns that reveal a great deal about this street and its residents, but many questions remain. What is preserved? What effect does a V2 bomb have?
Time Team illuminates the finds with real memories as former residents are brought back to relive their experiences of the dark days of the 1940s.
The Mystery of the Roman Treasure
Somewhere in the Roman empire at the end of the 4th century lived a very rich man. The man's name was Sevso. How he got his wealth and what he did during his life are lost in the mists of time. But his name endures. Why? Because he left behind one of the greatest treasures the world has ever known.
The Sevso Treasure comprises 14 huge pieces of intricately decorated silver. In scale and workmanship, they are quite unlike anything else in the world from that period. It has been valued unofficially at more than £100 million and were it ever to be put on public display people would travel the world to see it.
But it's not on display, and for the past few years it has been locked away from public view in the basement of the Bonhams auction house in London, its past and future the subject of hot debate.
The silver is currently in the possession of a British aristocrat, the Marquess of Northampton. But many people, including some very senior figures in the cultural world, claim the treasure is an iconic example of a dirty international trade that is destroying the world's cultural heritage. They believe the treasure must have been looted from an archaeological site and that the Marquess is in possession of stolen property.
To find out why the treasure has aroused these suspicions, Tony Robinson went on a journey that took him far off the normal Time Team path into a shadowy world of dealers, collectors, middlemen and an international trade in antiquities that operates outside the ambit of archaeologists, historians and other scholars - and often outside the law itself.
Swords, Skulls and Strongholds
They are among the most striking features of the British landscape. Moulded to the contours of some of our highest hills and most dramatic scenery, perched on clifftops and ridges, and dominating the landscape, they can be found throughout the British Isles. More than 2000 'hillforts' have been identified in Britain, the construction and occupation of which spanned almost a millennium.
The name 'hillfort' was first given to them by 18th and 19th century antiquarians, who assumed that anything on such a scale and involving such sophisticated engineering must have been built by the Romans. They were wrong. In fact, these great structures were constructed before the Romans arrived, during the late Bronze Age and the Iron Age, which began around 700 BC.
Nor were all hillforts actually forts - at least not in the conventional sense of a fort as a military stronghold. Recent excavations and other investigations have revealed that they served many different purposes: as centres of population, early towns; as places of storage and trade; as stamps on the landscape, marking off territory; or simply for show, as status symbols - the 'Iron-Age equivalent of suburban stone cladding', as Time Team's Stuart Ainsworth puts it in this programme.
Time Team's experts, including regulars Francis Pryor, Phil Harding and Stuart Ainsworth, bring together the latest archaeological knowledge and thinking about hillforts. They reveal a highly sophisticated society that was flourishing on these islands long before the Roman invasion. And they lift the lid on some of the darker superstitions and practices that may have characterised the world of the British Iron Age ¿ including the discovery at some sites of the buried remains of people who may have been deliberately killed as offerings to the gods.
Life on the Edge 1000 BC
Three thousand years ago the banks of the River Witham, just outside Lincoln, were bustling with activity. Archaeologists knew that buried just below the surface of this fenland would be some of the best preserved, yet fragile, evidence of a major Bronze Age settlement.
The site was soon to be buried under tons of clay when the river's flood defences were strengthened; the archaeologists had just six weeks in which to complete their work. With frequent visits from Time Team regulars Mick Aston, Phil Harding and Francis Prior, this film follows the progress of this extraordinary dig, and witnesses the spectacle of literally thousands of prehistoric finds being unearthed and analysed.
Two thousand five hundred finds - stone, bone and pottery - were recorded in one trench alone. Human bones prompt speculation about strange burial practices in the mysterious Bronze Age. Rare finds such as copper ore produce evidence that this earliest of metals was being worked here. Ancient wood specialist Maisie Taylor analyses the huge quantity of cut wood and reveals the superb woodcraft skills that characterised this brutal period.
This remarkable dig provides a unique picture of a corner of Bronze Age Britain as people learnt to live with the fear of rising water levels and disappearing land. And as the archaeologists begin to piece together the evidence a truly surprising story emerges of the life of this site 3000 years ago.
The Lost WWI Bunker
Tony Robinson joins an unprecedented archaeological expedition in Belgium to search for a bunker, or dugout, from the Great War known as the Vampir.
Beneath the paralysed front in Belgium, elite tunnelling companies created a deep maze of tunnels and dugouts, which was the only safe place to hide when shelling made the surface hell above.
But more than simply a place to live, the underground became a place to fight. England's best miners and engineers volunteered to apply their trade to making war.
Few records exist. But beneath Flanders Fields, the fruits of their labours are preserved, many metres below ground.
On the morning of 6 June 1944 Allied troops landed in France to attack Hitler's 'Fortress Europe' and begin the liberation of the continent.
Tony Robinson and Time Team travel to Normandy to uncover the experiences of one group of soldiers on that extraordinary day. The 1st Dorset Regiment were part of the first attacking wave, landing on Gold Beach at 7.25am. Once off the beach, their objectives were two well-defended points of higher ground inland, known as Point 54 and Herod's Well, and finally an artillery battery even further from the coast.
Sixty years on remnants of some of the fortifications they encountered are still in place, yet no conclusive account of what happened to the regiment that day exists. Through three separate excavations and the testimony of Michael Brennan, a veteran of the 1st Dorsets, Time Team re-constructs this small but significant part of the biggest invasion in history.
The Big Roman Villa
The story of the biggest villa excavation in this country for 50 years, some of the finest mosaics ever discovered and a classic story of the growing wealth and opulence of the Romans in Britain is recounted here as Tony Robinson brings together the whole history of the villa in this special film.
The archaeology demonstrates how the villa grew from a small farm building to a fine stone building, and how that was expanded again and turned round to face the busy new Fosse Way.
The King of Bling
A chance discovery by archaeologists in Southend reveals an Anglo-Saxon tomb crammed with such impressive gold artefacts that the tabloids dubbed the occupant 'the King of Bling'.
It's a burial fit for a king, but who could it be? Time Team follows the investigation into one of the most important discoveries in recent times as archaeologists from the Museum of London and specialists from across the world search for clues in the spectacular grave goods.
It's a daunting task. The grave is 1400 years old, the body has disintegrated and there is only a scattering of written records. But through painstaking laboratory work and forensic historical research the archaeologists begin to decipher the ritual significance of the gold, silver and precious finds placed in the burial chamber. Tony Robinson and Professor Mick Aston piece together the evidence and eventually manage to name the 'Bling King'.
In late 2003 two metal detectorists were working in a field in Yorkshire. They found 'treasure' buried just beneath the surface - a collection of Viking material next to a body.
Although they had been detecting on the site for a number of years, during which time they had made large numbers of finds, nothing they had uncovered previously compared with this. They decided to share their discovery with archaeologists.
In this Time Team Special, produced and directed by Brendan Hughes, Brendan and an assistant followed the excavation of the site and the often difficult relationship between the metal detectorists and the archaeologists over a period of a year from late 2005 to 2006.
Christmas Special 1999
Tony Robinson presents this seasonal episode of Time Team from York's Barley Hall, where an extravagant Medieval Christmas celebration is in full swing.
Looking back over previous digs, startling new evidence is revealed about one of the 'stars' unearthed on the show - a skeleton discovered during the live dig at Bawsey in Norfolk.
Tony also revisits Reedham Marshes in Norfolk, to pay a special tribute to the crew of a B-17 'Flying Fortress' which crashed in February, 1944.
Tony Robinson and Phil Harding hit the highways of America on a road trip to some of the dinosaur capitals of the world.
After joining a museum dig to excavate the bones of the T-Rex's ancestor, they uncover the big bucks tourist industry that dinosaur hunting has spawned in the US.
Their journey culminates in a trip to the Badlands, where they accompany world famous dinosaur hunter, Jack Horner, in digging up some of the best preserved remains of a T-Rex ever discovered.
In the summer of 2003, a small crew from Time Team spent eight weeks in the beautiful setting of Loch Tay, Perthshire, in Scotland. They were filming the ongoing underwater excavation of Oakbank crannog, an Iron-Age lake dwelling, which was first surveyed in 1979 and is the subject of a full-scale crannog reconstruction at the Scottish Crannog Centre on Loch Tay.
The husband-and-wife team of Dr Nick Dixon and Barrie Andrian had invited Time Team to follow their summer's excavations, and to recap on two decades of work on a site that is causing archaeologists to re-write what we know about life in the Iron Age.
Tony Robinson made a flying visit to the site and fronts the film, but for the main part Nick, Barrie and the students who were participating in a summer field school there take centre stage.
The team follow ARCUS, the Archaeological Research and Consultancy at the University of Sheffield, on some of its excavations into Sheffield's industrial past.
Early death, deadly machinery and the worst man-made disaster in British history were revealed as Time Team documented the work of the archaeologists who have spent more than six years digging through the remains of a city that was once the biggest producer of steel in the world.
Time Team Specials synopsis
From the secrets of Stonehenge to the hidden tunnels and dugouts of World War I, Sir Tony Robinson and the Team take on some very special archaeological assignmentsEpisode Guide >
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