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Series 1: 1. Lights in the Darkness



This episode immerses us in the turbulent era that followed the Roman occupation of Britain. Once known as the ‘dark’ ages, in reality it’s a time of glittering art and extraordinary cultural fusions.\n\nThis alternative history of the British Isles, told through art, brings together encounters between contemporary artists and ancient art, and interviews with experts and curators, to trace how Celtic, Anglo-Saxon and Norse peoples fought for supremacy, leaving behind mysterious fragments of art that still haunt our landscapes and imagination. \n\nSculptor Antony Gormley meets Spong Man, a unique clay figure that once sat on a 5th-century funerary urn, a mysterious glimpse into the mindset of early Anglo-Saxon settlers. Meanwhile, actor Michael Sheen performs the 7th-century Welsh poem of resistance against the Anglo-Saxons, Y Gododdin, and Scottish artists Dalziel & Scullion wonder at the monumental Aberlemno Stones (c.500-800 AD), believed to mark the hard-fought boundary line of the Pictish kingdom.\n\nLike the stones, the gold artefacts of the Staffordshire Hoard fuse pagan and Christian imagery, and at Stoke’s Potteries Museum artist Cornelia Parker investigates why they were found so broken and twisted. Spreading alongside such Christian symbols was a powerful new language, English, used to gloss over the Latin in the elaborate Lindisfarne Gospels explored by the Rev Richard Coles. Maria Dahvana Headley analyses how English was used in the epic poem Beowulf and tells us how she has updated the work with a hip-hop feminist translation. \n\nThe Anglo-Saxon Mappa Mundi reveals a new sense of the Isles’ place in the wider world, and is examined by map artist David McCandless and British Library curator Claire Breay. Graphic novelist Woodrow Phoenix explores how the Anglo-Saxon age came to a dramatic end in 1066 by taking a fresh look at the embroidered propaganda of the Norman conquest in the Bayeux Tapestry.

Source: BBC 2

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