Extreme Archaeology - 08 - Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire.avi
A new Channel 4 series takes archaeology to the edge as a team of experts tackles sites across the country that are beyond the reach of normal investigations. In Extreme Archaeology, an eight-part series, a team of archaeologists – with help from top climbers, cavers and divers – investigates amazing and unique archaeological sites throughout the UK. Many archaeological locations are beyond the reach of your average archaeologist. They are found in inaccessible caves, on treacherous cliffs, deep under water and in locations simply too remote or dangerous for normal investigation. Their remoteness often means that their secrets are unique, but they can also be under threat from erosion or other factors and this adds a rescue element to any investigation. Using some of the most advanced scientific equipment available, and high-tech miniature cameras and communication systems to record the action, Extreme Archaeology's experts are dropped into extreme and inaccessible environments under time and other pressures that test their personal and professional skills to the limit.
Extreme Archaeology - Series 1 (2004)
First Aired: 20 June 2004.
For the first programme in the series, the Extreme Archaeology team tackled the River Wye, on the English-Welsh border, to identify a mysterious structure that has been puzzling locals and archaeologists for years. Located just upstream from Chepstow Castle, a square timber and stone platform is visible at low tide, standing in mud flats about 80 metres out from the riverbank. It's always been thought to be the foundations of an ancient bridge – possibly medieval, or even older. Locals believe the structure is part of a Roman bridge. Could it even have been the crossing place for the Roman invasion of Wales? Despite the site having been known locally as 'the Roman bridge' for many years, the platform has never been examined archaeologically. In fact, no archaeologist has ever got a closer view than from the bank, because the River Wye is too fast-flowing and dangerous for swimming or paddling. With the second largest tidal range in the world, the river can rise and fall by more than 12 metres, and at low tide the mud flats are deadly, sucking in anyone that dares to venture onto them.
First Aired: 27 June 2004.
Until the Extreme Archaeology team arrived to solve the long-standing mystery of the rectangular structures on the Kame of Isbister, no archaeologist had ever carried out an excavation there. The Kame, which means rocky point or promontory, is a jagged stack of rock off the north coast of Shetland and one of the most remote archaeological sites in Britain. Almost impossible to view from the shore, the site can only be approached by a narrow and eroding arête, or ridge, restricting access to skilled climbers and suicidal sheep. Enigmatic rectangular earthworks adorn the Kame. They look like the remains of buildings, but beyond that, their function is unknown. Different theories about their origins have suggested that they could date from Shetland's Iron Age past; that they might be part of an early Christian monastery; and that they might be the last traces of an unfortunate leper colony.
But despite the fact that they've fascinated archaeologists for a hundred years, only two people appear to have attempted the treacherous journey to investigate them. The first, back in 1877, was a theology student, who carried out a small investigation and described and mapped the site. The second was the archaeologist, Raymond Lamb, who carried out a surface survey in 1970. It's easy to see why so little is known about the site. Guarded by 50-metre high sea cliffs and frequently lashed by gale-force winds and storms that are constantly eroding the site, it's hard to imagine what brought the Kame's early inhabitants here in the first place. The team faced one of their toughest expeditions of the series just to get onto the Kame. A treacherous knife-edge ridge incorporating severe rock faces connects the stack to the mainland, and the danger is apparent early in the programme, when the cameraman films his own fall from the rock and is saved only by his safety ropes. Once on the stack, the mission seems simple: to survey and excavate the rectangular earthworks to discover when and why they were built. But in relentless storm conditions, and with each team member exhausted and having to stay harnessed up for safety, digging a trench is an arduous process. The archaeological results turn out to be worth it, though, as the team solves at least part of the mystery of the earthworks – and reveals some unexpected inhabitants.
First Aired: 04 July 2004.
For this programme, the Extreme Archaeology team went to Culzean Castle, Scotland, to investigate local smuggling legends. The castle is perched precariously above the Firth of Clyde, on 30-metre high cliffs; and since the 17th century there have been tales of smugglers inhabiting the mysterious caves that go deep into them.
First Aired: 11 July 2004.
For this programme, the Extreme Archaeology team headed to Parys Mountain, Anglesey, to investigate what was once the biggest copper mine in the world. As Victorian miners dug towards the rich ores, they reported finding mysterious existing tunnels. Who built them and when? Could they be evidence that people were mining copper on the mountain 4,000 years ago in the Bronze Age? Today, two vast, disused mines with 20 kilometres of Victorian tunnels lie beneath a strange lunar landscape of spoilheaps. The mines were flooded with acidic water and largely inaccessible until recently, when they were drained for environmental reasons. Now, as the old timber supports dry out, there is a constant threat of collapse in the tunnels, many of which haven't been entered since the late 19th century.
First Aired: 18 July 2004.
This programme saw the Extreme Archaeology team head to Tintagel in Cornwall to tackle parts of the famous site that other archaeologists haven't been able to reach – until now.Located on the north Cornish coast, Tintagel – a romantic offshore island with medieval ruined castle – has fascinated visitors for generations, not least because it's home to legends of King Arthur and the powerful wizard Merlin. Tantalising scatters of exotic Dark Age pottery from Greece, Turkey and as far away as North Africa have been found across the island, puzzling historians for decades.
Just who was living on the island in the Dark Ages? Was Tintagel a royal citadel from which the ancient kings of Cornwall controlled a major trade route to the Mediterranean? And, controversially, could this mean there's a grain of truth behind the King Arthur legends?
First Aired: 25 July 2004.
When parts of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path crumbled into the sea due to bad weather, three stone coffins were discovered sticking out of the cliff. The Extreme Archaeology team were called in to rescue the remarkable finds before they were lost forever. How old are the coffins and why were they buried in such a strange location? Could the crumbling cliffs and enigmatic burials hold a key to understanding the origins of Christianity in Britain?
First Aired: 01 August 2004.
Four miles west of the end of the last road at the northernmost point of Yell, the second-biggest of the Shetland Islands, is Burgi Geos. Perched on a narrow outcrop of rock on the edge of 60-metre sheer cliffs, this collection of dry stone walls and scattered stones is generally thought of as an Iron Age blockhouse fortification. The site was surveyed by the archaeologist, Raymond Lamb, during his 1973 study of Shetland sites, but it has never been excavated. Although similar sites are found scattered throughout the Shetland Islands very little is known about any of them. Burgi Geos is not only the most remote, but is also considered to be the most unusual example of this type of building found anywhere in the islands. With half of the structure having already slipped into the sea, however, time is running out to unravel the enigma. The Extreme Archaeology team conducted the first archaeological investigation of the site. The questions they tried to answer included who would have lived in such a precarious position, why was it abandoned and when?
First Aired: 08 August 2004.
Deep under the ancient Forest of Dean lies a recently discovered complex of caves, chillingly known as Slaughter Stream. A few Ice Age animal bones recovered by local cavers provide tantalising clues suggesting that the caves might have been home to some of our earliest ancestors. But only a full expedition can establish if vital evidence survives. In one of its most gruelling challenges, the Extreme Archaeology team has to complete more than two hours of underground crawling, squeezing and climbing before the archaeologists even reach the excavation site. Could the team find evidence at the other end to make the journey worth the risk?
AVI File Details:
Name.........: Extreme Archaeology - Series 1 (2004)
Filesize..........: 700 MB (or 717,058 KB or 734,267,392 bytes) bytes
Runtime.........: 00:46:54 (70,349 fr)
Video Codec...: XviD
Video Bitrate...: 1964 kb/s
Audio Codec...: 0x0055(MP3) ID'd as MPEG-1 Layer 3
Audio Bitrate...: 48000Hz 115 kb/s (57/ch, stereo)
Frame Size.....: 720x512