One of the ways to judge a television programme – in our house, at least – is to see whether you find yourself still watching at the end despite having more important things to do. ‘Digging For Britain’, the much-trailed archaeology series presented by Alice Roberts, finally aired last night – and passed the test.
Covering a year’s worth of Roman archaeology in one programme meant there was plenty of material, and no need to resort to either padding or sensationalism. Blurry footage of re-enactors in the dark, overdramatic music and saying the same thing several different ways were all mercifully absent.
What we DID get was a trip around Roman Britain that included the huge Somerset hoard, the biggest archaeological site in the country or possibly the universe (it’s the course of a new road in Kent), a beautiful lamp from Suffolk with its finely-worked chain still in place, and yes, those babies’ skeletons from Hambledon Roman Villa that we’ve discussed here before. The ones that might or might not be evidence for a brothel.
Two favourite moments: first, the way a rusted lump of metal at Vindolanda suddenly made sense when we were told it was the neck-guard from an army helmet. Second, the way the remains of the lost babies of Hambledon had been carefully stored in shotgun cartridge cases, waiting to be rediscovered almost a hundred years later in the store-rooms of Aylesbury museum.
Gentle reader, should you need a break from all those important things that need
to be done, here’s where you can catch it on iplayer over the next 28 days.