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 18 Summary
Tony and the Team's 18th series kicks off with the 200th episode, featuring a particularly significant discovery in a very muddy reservoir.
Episode 1 - Reservoir Rituals
The first stone henge to be discovered in Britain for a century would be cause enough for major celebration. But there's double bubbles as Tony Robinson and his hardy team of archaeologists celebrate their 200th dig.
The site is the bed of a Devon reservoir with a strange assortment of prehistoric remains. The reservoir has been specially drained, but the diggers still face three days of wading through thick, sticky mud as they piece together the story of thousands of years of rituals performed in this beautiful secret valley high up on Dartmoor.
The Team slowly uncover a network of monuments that suggest they have found a major prehistoric site. But the best discovery is left until the last day when they unearth the remains of that stone henge. It's the perfect end to a milestone in the programme's history.
Episode 2 - Saxon Death, Saxon Gold
Tony Robinson takes his merry band of archaeologists to Leicestershire to investigate life and death in Anglo Saxon Britain. The Team are intrigued by metal detecting finds and pottery scattered across the fields, which suggest they're on the site of a high-status Anglo Saxon burial ground.
By the end of the first day there's no sign of a cemetery, in spite of the evidence. But all that changes the next morning with a flurry of activity revealing burials, cremations and a glimpse of gold. Days of frantic digging reveal every type of Anglo Saxon burial - and perhaps the finest piece of jewellery ever discovered on Time Team.
And the Team explore the unique way the Anglo Saxons celebrated their dead, when one brave digger stands in for a dead Anglo Saxon on a funeral pyre, in a fiery recreation of a cremation.
Episode 3 - Romans on the Range
Tony and the Team get a unique opportunity to dig at an army firing range at High Ham in Somerset and investigate a series of mosaics first discovered 150 years ago.
The mosaics hint at a grand villa, but as this part of Somerset has been in constant use by the army for the last century and a half, no one has ever had a chance to really see what's under the ground.
To everyone's surprise the initial results suggest there's been more than one villa on this site. Over the following days a story emerges of the highs and lows of Roman life in Britain, from the grand rooms used for entertaining to the pitiful lives of the slaves who lived on the edge of this high society.
The archaeology is impressive but the weather's not, and as the temperatures plummet the Team hold a crisis meeting. Could this be the first time in the programme's history that the conditions force the diggers to down tools?
Episode 4 - Hitler's Island Fortress
Tony Robinson doesn't usually get to decide where the Team should dig, but in this episode he chooses his first ever site for investigation: a German anti-aircraft battery built during the Nazis' five-year occupation of Jersey.
The archaeologists have never investigated anything like this before and must apply all their skills to make sense of a site now reclaimed by a forest. It's soon clear that the gun emplacements are part of a much bigger, complex fortified settlement that was home to hundreds of German soldiers equipped with a vast array of weapons.
And, unlike with older sites, the Team can talk to people who witnessed life under the occupation at first hand.
What emerges is the shocking story of a fortress island where German installations were built by slave labour and the local population began to starve as the war continued. Of terrible conditions that seem more fitting to the eras the Team usually investigate, rather than just 70 years ago.
Over three days Time Team uncover a fascinating and frequently horrifying glimpse of life during war.
Episode 5 - The Furnace in the Forest
Dense and tranquil woodland in the County Durham countryside seems an unlikely venue for Time Team's investigation into the earliest days of the Industrial Revolution. But 200 years ago Derwentcote was at the heart of an iron and steel-producing complex that fuelled the spread of empire.
Over three days the Team fight through the undergrowth to reveal the furnaces and forges that produced the raw materials of industry under appalling conditions.
As well as their chainsaws and mechanical diggers, the archaeologists draw on an unusual resource: the memoirs of an 18th-century industrial spy who visited the site. And with the help of old records they can even put names and trades to the people who occupied the workers' cottages that once stood alongside the works.
It's a story of how cottage industry gave way to the might of the industrial cities such as Sheffield, and the Team uncover the highs and lows of the working life of Derwentcote. On top of all that, Tony discovers how excited grown men can be when they get to analyse huge lumps of 200-year-old slag!
Episode 6 - Under the Gravestones
The Team face one of their strangest challenges ever: digging through a church graveyard in search of what could be one of the largest Roman structures ever built in Britain.
Tony Robinson and his band are here at the request of the Reverend William Burke, vicar of the historic St Kyneburgha's church in Castor, Cambridgeshire.
Under very close supervision, the Team must dodge the thousands of burials in the graveyard to get to an ornate mosaic floor that was reportedly discovered almost 200 years ago.
It could be the missing link in a village that is crammed with massive Roman walls and old reports of exquisite finds. Could they all belong to one vast building, dubbed a Praetorium, that would have dominated the Roman skyline and the whole region?
Time Team fan out through the village to dig up gardens and playing fields and locate the different pieces of the jigsaw. Can the Team reach the mosaic under the burials, and convince the sceptics that they've found a building the size of a Roman palace?
Episode 7 - The House of the White Queen
Groby Old Hall in Leicestershire was once home to the legendary White Queen: Elizabeth, the wife of Edward IV. The Team are here to help the new owners, who have saved the house from dereliction, to find out what has gone on in their garden over the centuries.
It's full of tantalising glimpses of archaeology: a medieval wall with a window, carved stones and what looks like the remains of a Norman castle. Sorting this lot out is the kind of challenge the Team can't resist.
Over three days they discover this remarkable piece of land contains over 600 years of archaeology. It may seem run down now but it once belonged to one of the most powerful families in medieval Britain, the Greys.
Monumental walls and grand manors emerge from the trenches as Tony is joined by historian and international bestselling author Philippa Gregory to piece together the intriguing tale of this power-hungry family.
He discovers a dynasty that arrived with William the Conqueror and went on to produce two queens of England: Elizabeth and Lady Jane Grey.
Episode 8 - Castles and Cannons
The Team visit Jersey to investigate the origins of Mont Orgueil Castle: a fortress that came to symbolise the Channel Islands' bond with Britain.
The massive castle that dominates the shore today is a Tudor structure built on earlier foundations, and it's that early castle, built by King John, that the Team are looking for.
Unfortunately everything is built on top of a rock outcrop with the steepest sides the archaeologists have ever encountered, and they have to employ mountaineers to help get them and their equipment up the sheer slopes; it's not an excavation for the faint-hearted.
As the dig continues, shadows of that original castle are discovered and a story emerges of how Mont Orgueil came to symbolise Jersey and the Channel Islands' peculiar relationship with Britain and France.
It was fought over, lost and won back again for centuries, but the massive stone walls that the Team uncover ultimately proved futile against the might of gunpowder.
Episode 9 - The Mystery of the Manor Moat
The Team descend on the historic Llancaich manor house to investigate an archaeologist's dream. An ancient moat has been discovered in the next field and no one knows what it once protected.
It may have surrounded an early Welsh chapel, a Roman Fort, a fortified cattle enclosure, or even the ancestral home of one of Wales's most important families: the Pritchards.
A big empty field with a manor house in it is what geophysics was invented for, but what should be a straightforward search quickly becomes one of the most baffling and frustrating investigations Time Team have undertaken for a long time.
As the three-day limit approaches the digging becomes more and more frantic, as fields and gardens are overturned by the diggers trying to get to grips with the missing manor.
Even if very little is as it seems, they do discover that the history of the site goes back thousands of years earlier than they expected.
Episode 10 - Search for the Domesday Mill
When Stephen and Stephanie Fry bought a few acres of prime Somerset pasture to graze their horses, they inadvertently also bought the remains of Buck Mill, an 18th-century water mill.
But as Stephanie began to look into its history, she realised that there may have been a flour mill on the site since Domesday! So she called in Tony Robinson and his sceptical team of archaeologists to help her unravel the mystery of their accidental mill.
For Professor Mick Aston the prospect was too good to turn down. As the diggers get to work uncovering the whole of the 18th-century mill, Mick takes off into the landscape to look for clues form earlier centuries. He finds more than he bargained for: the whole area was awash with the tell-tale mill streams needed to power grind stones.
As the three days progress, the dig throws up constant reminders of the importance of wheat and bread to the medieval population, and of how rich millers could become. The only spanner in the works for this perfect industrial dig is the surprise discovery of an Anglo Saxon comb...
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 importanceEpisode Guide >
Next on TV
Two large, impressive enclosures, or earthworks, can be seen at Gear and Caer Vallack, near Helford in Cornwall.