Episode Guides

In this popular and (literally) groundbreaking programme, Tony Robinson and a team of experts travel the country to investigate a wide range of archaeological sites of historical importance

About the Show

In this popular and (literally) groundbreaking programme, Tony Robinson and a team of experts travel the country to investigate a wide range of archaeological sites of historical importance

Series 14 Summary

The Team join the residents of Wicken in search of a lost village, dig up the Mount Murray golf course on a mission to uncover Dark Age relics, and follow their noses when a largely intact Roman cheese press is dug up - rather appropriately - in the town of Stilton.

  • Episode 1 - Finds in the Fairway, Isle of Man

    The Isle of Man may be a small and - particularly when Time Team was there - wet and windy island stuck in the middle of the Irish Sea. But it's crammed full of influences from British, Irish and even Viking incomers. In fact, it's been a cultural crossroads for thousands of years, including a time when Christianity vied with Norse paganism to be the island's principal religion.

    One of the legacies of this battle for dominance were the keeills - small, simple chapels that were once found scattered right across the island. Yet today, every single one of these ancient monuments has been destroyed by agriculture, built over by later medieval churches, or dug often very badly by antiquarians.

    All, that is, except one which has lain protected beneath the seventh fairway of the Mount Murray golf course, marked only by a patch of unkempt grass and a single standing stone atop a small mound. Time Team was given the unique opportunity to excavate the only known untouched keeill remaining on the Isle of Man.

  • Episode 2 - There's No Place Like Rome, Blacklands, Somerset

    Jayne Lawes and the Bath and Camerton Archaeological Society have been carrying out excavations at a site called 'Blacklands' in Somerset since 1999.

    The site is close to the major religious centre at Aquae Sulis (Bath) and has produced rare and tantalising results that indicate a very early Roman presence in an area not traditionally associated with villas until much later. A 'proto-villa', potentially from as early as 70 AD, and a gatehouse had already been excavated, producing early pottery and military finds.

    Time Team was called in to investigate more of the site and discover what was going on here in the early years of Roman occupation and to try to find out how the local Iron-Age population might have welcomed their new neighbours.

  • Episode 3 - School Diggers, Hooke Court, Dorset

    Hooke Court, in Dorset, is home today to a residential study centre and a small private school and nursery. Most of its surviving structures are believed to date from the English civil war in the mid 1600s, when the house was reported to have been burnt down by Parliamentarian troops.

    But the house is also full of interesting features that point to a much earlier original construction date. And there are various clues that suggest it was once much grander than it appears now.

    Peter and Mandy Cooper moved into the property in 1994 after carrying out extensive restoration work. Mandy, who runs the education centre, called in Time Team to investigate, so that she could tell the children (who played an active part in Time Team's visit), visitors and local people more about the history of Hooke Court.

  • Episode 4 - The Druids' Last Stand, Anglesey

    In early 2006 an aerial photographic survey of Anglesey produced a remarkable image. On the slopes south of the town of Amlwch approximately four miles from the island's north coast - a large pentangular earthwork could be seen.

    The earthwork, known as Y Werthyr, has long been known about - but until the photograph was taken nobody knew its full extent. It had never been excavated, nor properly identified.

    If comparisons with other sites on the island are correct, however, Y Werthyr is one of a small group of pentangular or polygonal enclosures that date from the middle to late Iron Age. This was the time when, according to classical sources, the island of Anglesey was the centre of the ancient Britons' druidic priesthood.

    Y Werthyr presented Time Team with a rare opportunity to excavate a large, previously uninvestigated, site. And perhaps, too, a chance to catch a glimpse of one of the bloodiest events in British history - the Roman suppression of druidic Anglesey.

  • Episode 5 - Shorncliffe Redoubt, Sandgate, Kent

    In 1793, the revolutionary government in Paris issued the infamous orders to execute King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Two weeks later, on 1 February, the French republic declared war on its implacable enemies in Britain and for the next decade the country braced itself for invasion.

    The British defences were woefully inadequate, and in 1794 Parliament bought a large piece of land at Shorncliffe, near Sandgate in Kent ¿ an obvious point for invasion by a French army. From this part of the coast, the locals could see the fires burning in Napoleon's camp, just 20 miles away, when he assembled his 'Army of England' after seizing power in France in 1799.

    Colonel William Twiss, a military engineer given the task of fortifying this part of the coast, drew up plans for a grand redoubt at Shorncliffe. The site became the home of the Green Jackets, the rifle regiment formed in 1800, whose soldiers were trained to act as skirmishers during the Napoleonic wars; and the Light Infantry Brigades, who were trained by Sir John Moore.

    Until this time, English troops had been trained under a regime of harsh discipline and deployed in rigid formations to confront the enemy with volleys of musket fire. The new light infantry troops were intelligent, active and hardy men, treated with respect by their officers. Sir John Moore became a national hero, whose skill in light infantry training is still recognised today.

    Time Team investigated the history of the Shorncliffe Redoubt, piecing together how its design and use as a training ground for light infantry troops helped to develop the modern army and defend the coast against invasion by 'the old enemy'.

  • Episode 6 - A Port and Stilton, Stilton, Cambridgeshire

    In late March 2006, a potter and keen fieldwalker, Richard Landy, reported his discovery of an almost complete ceramic Roman cheese press, used for making goat's cheese, to his local finds liaison officer (FLO) under the Portable Antiquities Scheme. What made it all the more special is where he found it - washing out of the side of a two-metre-deep ditch in Stilton, Cambridgeshire.

    This cheese press is just one of hundreds of finds Richard has discovered from the area around the ditch. These include Samian ware, mica dusted ware, Nene valley ware, local Roman coarse wares, medieval green glazed pottery and other objects, including Neolithic polished axes, animal remains and Roman pottery-making tools. Coins have also been discovered by limited metal detecting.

    Time Team had the usual three days to dig through the two metres of silt that has been deposited on top of the Roman layer over the past two millennia, to investigate the site and work out how it connected to the rest of the Roman Fens. And of course they couldn't resist trying their hand at making some Roman cheese as well.

  • Episode 7 - A Tale of Two Villages, Wicken, Northamptonshire

    Wicken, in Northamptonshire, appears to the modern visitor to be a typical English village, complete with church and manor house. But back in the medieval era there were two churches and two manor houses here, making up two separate villages ¿ Wick Hamon and Wick Dive.

    The residents of modern-day Wicken were curious to learn why there used to be two villages here, and what happened to the church and other parts of Wick Hamon that have long since disappeared. They also wanted to discover which was the older part of the village and whatever else Time Team could tell them about its past.

    As usual, Tony Robinson and the Team had just three days to dig up the answers.

  • Episode 8 - No Stone Unturned, Warburton, Cheshire

    Moss Brow Farm in Warburton, Cheshire, had been the focus of intense study by local enthusiast James Balme for almost a decade before he invited Time Team to investigate further. In that time, the site had produced a range of artefacts, discovered as a result of intensive field walking and metal detecting including a rare snake's head bracelet, a silver denarius and a collection of Roman metalwork.

    The assemblage of finds is unusual in the context of the north west of England. The evidence for Roman activity in the area is relatively sparse. Sites tend to produce few finds and aerial photography is rarely productive. In fact, there is a huge gap in our knowledge about the extent of both Roman military and civilian occupation in the region.

    Time Team was keen to try to fill in some of that gap, and in particular to discover what lies beneath the bean fields of Warburton. And they left virtually no stone unturned in the process of doing so.

  • Episode 9 - The Domesday Mill, Dotton Mill, Devon

    Dotton is a small hamlet in east Devon, close to the river Otter. In the Domesday Book, compiled around 1086, there is a record of there having been a mill there, to the value of five shillings. The last working mill in the village closed down in 1946, however, and in 1968 the building was ordered to be demolished by the local council because the wheel pit was regarded as a danger to children.

    Maps spanning the past couple of hundred years show a range of buildings on the site, and identify the site as Dotton Mill. From the 16th century onwards there is a range of documents that also refer to a mill.

    In this programme Time Team's objective was to excavate the remains of the building that was knocked down 40 years ago and to try to find evidence of any earlier mill buildings in the vicinity. They had three days in which to do it.

  • Episode 10 - The Cheyne Gang, Chesham Bois, Bucks

    Julia Plaistowe, the owner of Chesham Bois House, is a keen gardener. Over the years, she's turned up 17th-century and medieval tiles beneath the greenhouse, uncovered medieval pottery in the flowerbeds, and noticed strange lumps and bumps at the bottom of the garden.

    From an early 18th-century map she knew that her current house, which dates from around 1820, was built on the site of a much larger property. But this 1735 map is the only known illustration of that building. Nor are there any descriptions of what it looked like - in fact, there's nothing that could tell Julia when it was built, what it looked like or what lies beneath the surface in her garden.

    Historical records, however, trace the ownership of the manor here back to the reign of Edward the Confessor; and we know of a manor house in the vicinity from at least the 1420s. This was when it came into the ownership of the Cheyne family, whose colourful reputation for violence and possibly heresy didn't prevent them from becoming pillars of the local establishment until their line died out in the first half of the 18th century.

    Time Team was called in by Julia Plaistowe, as the modern-day heir to the former Cheyne manor, to see what could be discovered about its past.

  • Episode 11 - Road to the Relics, Godstone, Surrey

    Local metal detectorist David Hunt has been visiting the same field in Godstone in Surrey for the past 15 years, and in that time has discovered a huge collection of Roman finds. Around 600 coins, many of them of high value, have been recovered from the field, as well as a collection of brooches and other, more unusual items, including what looks like a metal sceptre handle.

    Local archaeologists believe that the number and value of the finds means that they may have been deliberate offerings, pointing towards a possible Roman temple or religious site. The possible sceptre handle is similar to ones that have been found at another Roman religious site nearby and may have been used by priests.

    The site is positioned close to a Roman road connecting London to the south coast and has never been excavated, although English Heritage did commission a geophysics survey. Local archaeologists have been wondering what lies beneath the surface for many years, and called in Time Team to help them find out.

    It was a big challenge, in a very big field, and as usual, the Team had just three days to do it in.

  • Episode 12 - The Abbey Habit, Poulton, Cheshire

    Poulton in Cheshire was once home to a small community of Cistercian monks, who founded an abbey on the banks of the river Dee on the Welsh border. After only 60 years, however, the monks grew tired of continued incursions from the Welsh and in 1214 they took up an invitation by Ranulf de Blundeville, earl of Chester and lord of Leek, to move to a new site just outside Leek, in Staffordshire, at Dieulacres Abbey.

    The Poulton Research Project has been investigating the history of the abbey at Poulton since 1995, with some outstanding results. The project's discoveries have included a blocked-up medieval-stone staircase leading into the ground on a site named as 'Poulton Hall' on a 17th-century estate map, while 700 metres away an early chapel has been located that has so many burials that students in forensic archaeology are now trained on the site.

    Could 'Poulton Hall' be the former abbey, later re-used as a monastic grange (an agricultural estate) and manor house by the Manley family, who are known to have lived there in the 15th and 16th centuries?

    Time Team was asked for its help in piecing together the history of this monastic landscape.

  • Episode 13 - In the Shadow of the Tor, Bodmin Moor, Cornwall

    Ten thousand years ago, Bodmin Moor was completely different to the barren, windswept landscape of today. It was wooded and temperate, and Mesolithic hunter-gatherers roamed at their will up to 10,000 years ago. By the Neolithic era, from about 4500 to 2300 BC, people were claiming the terrain for their own, clearing the trees in order to settle and farm the landscape and burying their dead in barrows and cairns.

    Ancient communities continued to thrive there right through the Bronze Age. More than 200 settlements have been recorded, with their enclosures and field patterns, but we don't know when exactly all of these were occupied, how they relate to each other or when and why they were deserted.

    English Heritage and the Cornwall Historic Environment Service invited Time Team to examine and date some of the major standing monuments in the vicinity of Rough Tor. In a new departure for Time Team, this involved harnessing some of the latest science used in environmental archaeology alongside the Team's usual excavation and investigation techniques.

Time Team synopsis

In this popular and (literally) groundbreaking programme, Tony Robinson and a team of experts travel the country to investigate a wide range of archaeological sites of historical importance

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16 Series, 173 Episodes

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