Anglo-saxon Portraits

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Three Kings: Cnut, Edward The Confessor And Harold20140807

The broadcaster and scholar Michael Wood introduces portraits of significant individuals from the Anglo Saxon era.

His focus here is on three later kings, with Timothy Bolton's portrait of King Cnut; Stephen Baxter on Edward the Confessor; and the comedian and broadcaster Clive Anderson on King Harold Godwinson.

Producer: Beaty Rubens

First broadcast April 2013.

01Vortigem20121015

Portraits of thirty ground-breaking Anglo-Saxon men and women.

The Anglo Saxons are somewhat out of fashion, yet the half millennium between the creation of the English nation in around 550 and the Norman Conquest in 1066 was a formative one.

This major new series for BBC Radio 3 rediscovers the Anglo-Saxons through vivid portraits of thirty individuals.

Contributors include Nobel prize-winner Seamus Heaney on the Beowulf bard; departing Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams on the first Archbishop of Canterbury, St Augustine; writer David Almond on the oldest surviving English poet, Caedmon; Michael Wood on King Alfred; Martin Carver on Raedwald; Richard Gameson on Eadfrith the Scribe; Helena Hamerow on the peasant-farmer; Geoffrey Robertson QC on the law-makers.

1.Vortigern:Barry Cunliffe on the king whom history has often held responsible for inviting in the first Anglo-Saxons.

Vortigern is one of the few Britons known to us by name from the transitional period between the end of Roman rule in around 400 AD and the consolidation of the Anglo Saxon kingdoms in the early 6th Century.

He has traditionally had a bad press, having apparently invited in the legendary Anglo-Saxon brothers, Hengist and Horsa, hoping they would protect the country from barbarian attack. Of course his plan of containment failed. The rest is history.

But Barry Cunliffe, Emeritus Professor of European Archaeology at Oxford, believes Vortigern has been unfairly demonised. Against a backdrop of fading Roman rule, papal attempts to enforce a single version of Christianity, and coastal raids by migrants from across the North Sea, he paints a vivid portrait of a dynamic and individualistic king battling against the odds as one era of British history drew to a close and another began.

Producer: Beaty Rubens

02The Peasant Farmer2012101620140731

Portraits of thirty ground-breaking Anglo-Saxon men and women.

The Anglo Saxons are somewhat out of fashion, yet the half millennium between the creation of the English nation in around 550 and the Norman Conquest in 1066 was a formative one.

This major new series rediscovers the Anglo-Saxons through vivid portraits of thirty individuals.

Contributors include Nobel prize-winner Seamus Heaney on the Beowulf bard; departing Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams on the first Archbishop of Canterbury, St Augustine; writer David Almond on the oldest surviving English poet, Caedmon; Michael Wood on King Alfred; Martin Carver on Raedwald; Richard Gameson on Eadfrith the Scribe; Geoffrey Robertson QC on the law-makers.

2.The peasant farmer: Helena Hamerow on the countless peasant-farmers who have left behind no words or names but who shaped the English landscape as we know it today.

During the first few Anglo-Saxon centuries, almost everyone was a farmer or the child of a farmer, yet time has rendered the voices of these men, women and children silent. They could not write and are rarely mentioned by those who could.

Yet, drawing on archaeological finds and a few later written sources, archaeologist Helena Hamerow brings these shadowy people vividly back to life, while she also reveals their permanent legacy - the villages, fields, route-ways and place-names that are woven into the fabric of the English landscape itself.

Professor of Early Medieval Archaeology and Head of the School of Archaeology at the University of Oxford, Helena Hamerow describes the homes, diets and harsh everyday lives of the peasant farmer in vivid detail. She culminates with the astonishing fact that while some became free and prosperous, taking advantage of growing trade-routes and markets, many were forced to work entirely for their local lords - lords so demanding that they even claimed rights over the dung produced by their peasants' sheep.

Producer: Beaty Rubens.

02The Peasant Farmer2012101620140731

02The Peasant Farmer20121016

Portraits of thirty ground-breaking Anglo-Saxon men and women.

The Anglo Saxons are somewhat out of fashion, yet the half millennium between the creation of the English nation in around 550 and the Norman Conquest in 1066 was a formative one.

This major new series rediscovers the Anglo-Saxons through vivid portraits of thirty individuals.

Contributors include Nobel prize-winner Seamus Heaney on the Beowulf bard; departing Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams on the first Archbishop of Canterbury, St Augustine; writer David Almond on the oldest surviving English poet, Caedmon; Michael Wood on King Alfred; Martin Carver on Raedwald; Richard Gameson on Eadfrith the Scribe; Geoffrey Robertson QC on the law-makers.

2.The peasant farmer: Helena Hamerow on the countless peasant-farmers who have left behind no words or names but who shaped the English landscape as we know it today.

During the first few Anglo-Saxon centuries, almost everyone was a farmer or the child of a farmer, yet time has rendered the voices of these men, women and children silent. They could not write and are rarely mentioned by those who could.

Yet, drawing on archaeological finds and a few later written sources, archaeologist Helena Hamerow brings these shadowy people vividly back to life, while she also reveals their permanent legacy - the villages, fields, route-ways and place-names that are woven into the fabric of the English landscape itself.

Professor of Early Medieval Archaeology and Head of the School of Archaeology at the University of Oxford, Helena Hamerow describes the homes, diets and harsh everyday lives of the peasant farmer in vivid detail. She culminates with the astonishing fact that while some became free and prosperous, taking advantage of growing trade-routes and markets, many were forced to work entirely for their local lords - lords so demanding that they even claimed rights over the dung produced by their peasants' sheep.

Producer: Beaty Rubens

03St Augustine20121017

Portraits of thirty ground-breaking Anglo-Saxon men and women.

The Anglo Saxons are somewhat out of fashion, yet the half millennium between the creation of the English nation in around 550 and the Norman Conquest in 1066 was a formative one.

This major new series rediscovers the Anglo-Saxons through vivid portraits of thirty key individuals.

Contributors include Nobel prize-winner Seamus Heaney on the Beowulf bard; writer David Almond on the oldest surviving English poet, Caedmon; Michael Wood on King Alfred; Martin Carver on Raedwald; Richard Gameson on Eadfrith the Scribe; Helena Hamerow on the peasant-farmer; Geoffrey Robertson QC on the law-makers.

3. Departing Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, on his predecessor, St Augustine, first ever Achbishop of Canterbury.

Rowan Williams tells the story of the arrival in Kent of Augustine, a nervous and untried young monk from Rome, sent by Pope Gregory to convert the barbarian Britons from their Pagan religions.

Drawing on the letters sent by Augustine to Gregory, he sympathetically imagines the feelings of isolation and uncertainty experienced by Augustine, and reflects on his particular areas of concern, many of which, to a modern eye, exhibit an unhealthy preoccupation with sex.

With his own characteristic blend of scholarship, humour and humanity, Rowan Williams paints a vivid portrait of a figure whose arrival in Kent he believes marked the true beginnings of English history and left a legacy on the history of the entire world.

Producer: Beaty Rubens

04Three Alpha Females2012101820140731

Portraits of thirty ground-breaking Anglo-Saxon men and women.

The Anglo Saxons are somewhat out of fashion, yet the half millennium between the creation of the English nation in around 550 and the Norman Conquest in 1066 was a formative one.

This major new series rediscovers the Anglo-Saxons through vivid portraits of thirty individuals, written and read by leading historians, archaeologists and enthusiasts in the field.

4.Three Alpha Females: Martin Carver brings back to life three powerful pagan women

Archaeologist Martin Carver had devoted his career to re-animating the lives of individuals silenced in their graves. As he puts it: "lives which we can glimpse in a string of beeds, feel in the undulating surface of a metal sword handle".

Famous for his excavations of the ship burial at Sutton Hoo, Martin is also particularly fascinated by what archaeology can reveal about the lives of women: "some say history has not been kind to women, but archaeology reports both sexes equally; and in their graves the Anglo-Saxons celebrated their women as much as their men - or more so".

Describing in loving detail the graves of what he calls three "Anglo-Saxon Alpha Females", he re-animates the lives of a privileged pagan girl from the earliest period; a "cunning woman" with her bag of tools and healing herbs; and a princess buried in her bed.

Through them, he recreates the lives of other women in the early era "before Christian government succeeded in clamping down on diversity and rewriting the rules."

Producer: Beaty Rubens.

04Three Alpha Females2012101820140731

04Three Alpha Females20121018

Portraits of thirty ground-breaking Anglo-Saxon men and women.

The Anglo Saxons are somewhat out of fashion, yet the half millennium between the creation of the English nation in around 550 and the Norman Conquest in 1066 was a formative one.

This major new series rediscovers the Anglo-Saxons through vivid portraits of thirty individuals, written and read by leading historians, archaeologists and enthusiasts in the field.

4.Three Alpha Females: Martin Carver brings back to life three powerful pagan women

Archaeologist Martin Carver had devoted his career to re-animating the lives of individuals silenced in their graves. As he puts it: "lives which we can glimpse in a string of beeds, feel in the undulating surface of a metal sword handle".

Famous for his excavations of the ship burial at Sutton Hoo, Martin is also particularly fascinated by what archaeology can reveal about the lives of women: "some say history has not been kind to women, but archaeology reports both sexes equally; and in their graves the Anglo-Saxons celebrated their women as much as their men - or more so".

Describing in loving detail the graves of what he calls three "Anglo-Saxon Alpha Females", he re-animates the lives of a privileged pagan girl from the earliest period; a "cunning woman" with her bag of tools and healing herbs; and a princess buried in her bed.

Through them, he recreates the lives of other women in the early era "before Christian government succeeded in clamping down on diversity and rewriting the rules."

Producer: Beaty Rubens

05King Raedwald20121019

The Anglo Saxons are somewhat out of fashion, yet the half millennium between the creation of the English nation in around 550 and the Norman Conquest in 1066 was a formative one.

This major new series rediscovers the Anglo-Saxons through vivid portraits of thirty individuals by leading historians, archaeologists and enthusiasts in the field.

5.Raedwald: Martin Carver on the inhabitant of the magnificent Sutton Hoo ship burial

Martin Carver tells the sensational story of the unearthing of Britain's richest ever grave, at Sutton Hoo, in spring 1939. He goes on to describe the role of his own team from the University of York in the second wave of excavations there, and vividly recreates the life, death and burial of its probable inhabitant, King Raedwald.

With a fabulous eye for detail, he describes some of the 263 objects of gold, silver, bronze, iron, gems, leather, wood, textiles, feather and fur, laid out in a wooden chamber at the centre of a buried ship. And he uses these to recreate the life and turbulent times of this early Anglo-Saxon king and his clever, devoted wife.

Producer: Beaty Rubens

06King Edwin20121022

A major new series rediscovering the Anglo-Saxons through thirty portraits of ground-breaking individuals.

The Anglo Saxons are somewhat out of fashion, yet the half millennium between the creation of the English nation in around 550 and the Norman Conquest in 1066 was a deeply formative one.

6.King Edwin: Richard Gameson on the king of Northumbria famous for his conversion to Christianity

Edwin, king of Northumbria from 616-633, is the first Anglo-Saxon king whose rule can be examined in detail as a newly emerging superpower, but he is best remembered for his struggle over whether to convert to Christianity.

Historian Richard Gameson starts with the famous account in Bede about the life of a man being like the flight of a sparrow through a fire-lit hall: "For the few moments it is inside, the storm and wintry tempest cannot touch it, but after the briefest moment of calm, it flits from sight out into the storm again."

He goes on to place Edwin's spiritual struggle into a wider context, exploring the political implications of such a conversion at a time when a king needed to be a diplomat, showman and powerful warlord as well as a private individual.

Weaving the personal and political together, Richard Gameson's vivid portrait reveals the complex nature of kingship in early Anglo-Saxon times.

07Penda20121023

Portraits of thirty ground-breaking Anglo-Saxon men and women.

The Anglo Saxons are somewhat out of fashion, yet the half millennium between the creation of the English nation in around 550 and the Norman Conquest in 1066 was a formative one.

This major new series rediscovers the Anglo-Saxons through vivid portraits of thirty individuals, written and presented by leading historians, archaeologists and enthusiasts in the field.

7.Penda: Michael Wood celebrates the much-maligned last pagan king of England and links him with the recently discovered Staffordshire Hoard.

Distinguished historian and popular broadcaster Michael Wood considers Penda to be one of the most fascinating figures in Anglo-Saxon history. The preeminent warrior in Dark Ages Britain, Penda was also the creator of the Midlands tribal confederation which became the Kingdom of Mercia, but he was a pagan and his story has always been told by his Christian conquerors.

Now Michael Wood sheds a new and more sympathetic light on Penda's story and brings it right up to date. He suggests that Penda may in fact have been the owner of the magnificent Staffordshire Hoard. Scholars have not yet established who originally owned this astounding collection of seventh century goldwork discovered by a metal detectorist in a windswept field outside Litchfield in 2009: with his characteristic flare and passion for the vivid details of history, Michael Wood makes a serious new claim.

Producer: Beaty Rubens.

08Hild Of Whitby2012102420140805

The Anglo Saxons are somewhat out of fashion, yet the half millennium between the creation of the English nation in around 550 and the Norman Conquest in 1066 was a formative one.

This major new series rediscovers the Anglo-Saxons through vivid portraits of thirty individuals - women as well as men - written and presented by leading historians, archaeologists and enthusiasts in the field.

The 8th Portrait in the series is of a woman long overdue for rediscovery.

8.Hild of Whitby

In a largely warrior-dominated society, the seventh century abbess Hild of Whitby held extraordinary power and influence. Barbara Yorke tells an important story, largely overlooked by subsequent history, of a time when a notable religious woman such as Hild could be in charge of a monastery the size of a small town - a monastery in which both monks and nuns lived and future bishops might be trained.

This Portrait also sheds fascinating light on an era before the gender politics of the newly established Church took hold. As Barbara Yorke writes: " The glory days of women like Hild could not last. She was the product of the circumstances of the conversion period when traditional religious roles of women, and the expectations of royal houses that some of the family could be church leaders, gave women unique opportunities. The patriarchal hierachy of the church asserted itself when people got down to reading the small print. The idea of a woman training a province's bishop came to be seen as impossible."

And she concludes: "Hild is a woman well worth remembering, as some thirteen hundred years would elapse before we find women holding power within the church of England that is in any way comparable to her's."

Producer: Beaty Rubens.

08Hild Of Whitby20121024

The Anglo Saxons are somewhat out of fashion, yet the half millennium between the creation of the English nation in around 550 and the Norman Conquest in 1066 was a formative one.

This major new series rediscovers the Anglo-Saxons through vivid portraits of thirty individuals - women as well as men - written and presented by leading historians, archaeologists and enthusiasts in the field.

The 8th Portrait in the series is of a woman long overdue for rediscovery.

8.Hild of Whitby

In a largely warrior-dominated society, the seventh century abbess Hild of Whitby held extraordinary power and influence. Barbara Yorke tells an important story, largely overlooked by subsequent history, of a time when a notable religious woman such as Hild could be in charge of a monastery the size of a small town - a monastery in which both monks and nuns lived and future bishops might be trained.

This Portrait also sheds fascinating light on an era before the gender politics of the newly established Church took hold. As Barbara Yorke writes: " The glory days of women like Hild could not last. She was the product of the circumstances of the conversion period when traditional religious roles of women, and the expectations of royal houses that some of the family could be church leaders, gave women unique opportunities. The patriarchal hierachy of the church asserted itself when people got down to reading the small print. The idea of a woman training a province's bishop came to be seen as impossible."

And she concludes: "Hild is a woman well worth remembering, as some thirteen hundred years would elapse before we find women holding power within the church of England that is in any way comparable to her's."

Producer: Beaty Rubens

09Cuthbert20121025

Historian Tony Morris explores the life of Cuthbert, the popular saint of the Northeast, and his continuing appeal today, both on and far beyond his home, the island of Lindisfarne.

10Eadfrith The Scribe20121026

Richard Gameson explores the everyday working lives and vital contribution of scribes.

This major new series rediscovers the Anglo-Saxons through vivid portraits of thirty individuals - women as well as men, famous and humble - written and presented by leading historians, archaeologists and enthusiasts in the field.

10.Eadfrith the Scribe: Richard Gameson on the everyday working lives and vital contribution of scribes

Most of these Anglo-Saxon Portraits are of named individuals, and Eadfrith, the scribe who wrote and ornamented the magnificent Lindisfarne Gospel in around 700, is no exception.

But Richard Gameson's vivid and detailed account of Eadfrith is also a fascinating survey of the many unnamed scribes from the Anglo-Saxon period.

A leading expert from the University of Durham on the history of the book, Richard Gameson's vivid Portrait of Eadfrith is punctuated by many extraordinary facts and figures: Eadfrith's total line-length, for example, in the Lindisfarne Gospels, was nearly two kilometres and necessitated the slaughter of some 130 calves!

From the writing to the binding, ornamental covering and later copying, this account brings to life each of the essential processes in creating a book in Anglo-Saxon times.

It concludes that while the ostentatious ornatmentation suggests that the Anglo-Saxons did judge a book by its cover, the legacy of the scribes goes far beyond this. For, as Richard Gameson states: "Our knowledge of Anglo-Saxon history and literature relies almost entirely on the work of Anglo-Saxon scribes. Without scribes we would have no Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, no Beowulf, no copies of Bede's great Ecclesiastical History."

Producer: Beaty Rubens

11The Beowulf Bard2013012120140730

A series of portraits of significant men and women from the Anglo Saxon era.

Another chance to hear an Essay by the Nobel prize-winner the late Seamus Heaney, recorded before he died in 2013. This is his portrait of the great Beowulf bard and of the court poet in general - known as the "scop" in old English - a man skilled in song and the pure art of story telling.

Producer: Beaty Rubens

First broadcast January 2013.

11The Beowulf Bard2013012120140730

11The Beowulf Bard20130121

This major new series rediscovers the Anglo-Saxons through vivid portraits of thirty individuals - women as well as men, famous and humble - portraits of thirty key figures from the era 550-1066 written and presented by leading historians, archaeologists and enthusiasts in the field.

The Anglo-Saxons are somewhat out of fashion, yet the half millennium between the creation of the English nation in around 550 and the Norman Conquest in 1066 was a formative one.

This major new series continues on Radio 3 with another set of ten portraits rediscovering the Anglo-Saxons through vivid portraits of thirty individuals.

Nobel prize-winner Seamus Heaney on the Beowulf bard and the importance of the office of the court poet, the scop, as he was known in old English - a man skilled in song and the pure art of story telling - loyal to his lord..

Contributors include departing Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams on the first Archbishop of Canterbury, St Augustine; writer David Almond on the oldest surviving English poet, Caedmon; Michael Wood on King Alfred; Martin Carver on Raedwald; Richard Gameson on Eadfrith the Scribe; Helena Hamerow on the peasant-farmer; Geoffrey Robertson QC on the law-makers.

Producer: Mohini Patel.

12Bede, The Father Of English History20130122

This major new series rediscovers the Anglo-Saxons through vivid portraits of thirty individuals - women as well as men, famous and humble - portraits of thirty key figures from the era 550-1066 written and presented by leading historians, archaeologists and enthusiasts in the field.

The Anglo-Saxons are somewhat out of fashion, yet the half millennium between the creation of the English nation in around 550 and the Norman Conquest in 1066 was a formative one.

Anglo-Saxon scholar and guide at Durham Cathedral where Bede is buried, Lilian Groves explores the life and times of the saint widely regarded as one of the greatest theological scholars who gave to the world 'The Ecclesiastical History of the English People' and marvels at the thousands of visitors from around the world who still come to worship at his tomb. In his lifetime, Bede lived in Northumbria - the edge of the known world. He never left the confines of his monastery yet he legacy is universal.

Contributors include Nobel prize-winner Seamus Heaney on the Beowulf bard, the departing Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams on the first Archbishop of Canterbury, St Augustine; writer David Almond on the oldest surviving English poet, Caedmon; Michael Wood on King Alfred; Martin Carver on Raedwald; Richard Gameson on Eadfrith the Scribe; Helena Hamerow on the peasant-farmer; Geoffrey Robertson QC on the law-makers.

Producer: Mohini Patel.

13Caedmon, The Oldest Surviving English Poet2013012320140801

The writer David Almond recreates the life and times of the oldest surviving English poet - and fellow Northumbrian - Caedmon.

According to the writings of the 8th century monk Bede, Caedmon was an illiterate herdsman who came to understand how to compose religious poetry and song one night in the course of a dream. David Almond brings his story vividly and movingly to life.

Producer: Beaty Rubens.

13Caedmon, The Oldest Surviving English Poet20130123

This major new series rediscovers the Anglo-Saxons through vivid portraits of thirty individuals - women as well as men, famous and humble - portraits of thirty key figures from the era 550-1066 written and presented by leading historians, archaeologists and enthusiasts in the field.

The Anglo-Saxons are somewhat out of fashion, yet the half millennium between the creation of the English nation in around 550 and the Norman Conquest in 1066 was a formative one.

Contributors include Nobel prize-winner Seamus Heaney on the Beowulf bard, the departing Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams on the first Archbishop of Canterbury, St Augustine; Michael Wood on King Alfred; Martin Carver on Raedwald; Richard Gameson on Eadfrith the Scribe; Helena Hamerow on the peasant-farmer; Geoffrey Robertson QC on the law-makers.

Producer: Mohini Patel.

14The Court Of King Alfred20130124

This major new series rediscovers the Anglo-Saxons through vivid portraits of thirty individuals - women as well as men, famous and humble - portraits of thirty key figures from the era 550-1066 written and presented by leading historians, archaeologists and enthusiasts in the field.

In today's essay Professor Jinty Nelson details how the court of King Alfred was run and how he rewarded his thegns, or local government administers forfor their faithful service.

The Anglo-Saxons are somewhat out of fashion, yet the half millennium between the creation of the English nation in around 550 and the Norman Conquest in 1066 was a formative one.

Contributors include Nobel prize-winner Seamus Heaney on the Beowulf bard, the departing Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams on the first Archbishop of Canterbury, St Augustine; Michael Wood on King Alfred; Martin Carver on Raedwald; Richard Gameson on Eadfrith the Scribe; Helena Hamerow on the peasant-farmer; Geoffrey Robertson QC on the law-makers.

Producer: Mohini Patel.

15Offa, King Of The Mercians20130125

Professor Thomas Charles-Edwards discusses Offa, who was King of Mercia from 757 to 796 AD and effectively an early king of England.

16Alcuin, The Scholar20130128

The Anglo Saxons are somewhat out of fashion, yet the half millennium between the creation of the English nation in around 550 and the Norman Conquest in 1066 was a formative one.

This major series rediscovers the Anglo-Saxons through vivid portraits of thirty key individuals.

16. Alcuin. Mary Garrison from York University tells the story of one of York's most influential sons, Alcuin. In the eighth century, Alcuin was one of the most learned and influential men of the early Middle Ages and was remembered by contemporaries as 'the most learned man anywhere to be found'.

Mary paints a vivid portrait of this scholar whose legacy survives today in the liturgy and the style of manuscript lettering. His love of books created one of most important libraries of the middle age and he was one of the finest teachers of the eighth century. 'The light of understanding is natural to human minds', he said, 'just as flint has a spark within it by nature, but the understanding remains dormant like the spark in the flint without the frequent attention of the teacher.'

Producer: Sarah Taylor.

17Wilfred, The Bishop20130129

The Anglo Saxons are somewhat out of fashion, yet the half millennium between the creation of the English nation in around 550 and the Norman Conquest in 1066 was a formative one.

This major series rediscovers the Anglo-Saxons through vivid portraits of thirty key individuals.

Clare Stancliffe, from Durham University, captures the epic life of Wilfred. He was born in Northumbria around 634 and left home at 14 to care for a decrepit nobleman at Aidan's monastery on Lindisfarne. But he held a desire to go on pilgramage to Rome. It was in Rome that he experienced the ceremonial style of liturgical music and vestments decorated with silks and gold thread. He introduced the use of a double choir into the Northumbrian church upon his return.

His love of Roman ritual and style influenced his architectural contribution to the church which can still be seen in the crypt of Hexham Abbey.

Producer: Sarah Taylor.

18Law-makers20130130

The Anglo Saxons are somewhat out of fashion, yet the half millennium between the creation of the English nation in around 550 and the Norman Conquest in 1066 was a formative one.

This major series rediscovers the Anglo-Saxons through vivid portraits of thirty key individuals.

Geoffrey Robertson QC assesses the ideas, influence and legacy of some of the Anglo Saxon law makers. In particular, he analyses how the Levellers, Diggers and Puritans looked to the Anglo Saxons to draft their constitution and their belief in a theory they called "the Norman Yoke". They were influenced by one of Alfred's law codes "Judge them very fairly. Do not judge one judgment for the rich and another for the poor, nor one for the one more dear and another for the one more hateful".

Producer: Sarah Taylor.

18Law-makers20130130

19Alfred The Great2013013120140806

The Anglo-Saxons rediscovered through portraits of thirty key figures from the era 550-1066. Michael Wood on Alfred the Great, King of Wessex and king of the Anglo-Saxons.

The Anglo Saxons are somewhat out of fashion, yet the half millennium between the creation of the English nation in around 550 and the Norman Conquest in 1066 was a formative one.

A few years back, the BBC held a Great Britons debate. In the final ten were the usual suspects; Darwin, Newton Brunel and Shakespeare. Ultimately Churchill won the people's vote and landed first place. For Churchill though, the only person he considered truly 'Great' was Alfred, the founder of the English state and ancestor of our present Queen.

Michael Wood chronicles Alfred's achievements: his writings; his reflections on kingship; his military skill; his rejuvenation of education and his legal expertise. Here are Alfred's own words about kingship.

'What I set out to do was to virtuously and justly administer the authority given to me. And I wanted to do it - so my talents and capacity might be remembered. But every natural gift in us soon withers if it is not ruled by wisdom. Without wisdom no talent can be fully realised: for to do something unwisely can hardly be accounted a skill. To be brief, I may say that it has always been my wish to live honourably, and after my death to leave to my descendents my memory in good works.'

Producer: Sarah Taylor.

19Alfred The Great20130131

The Anglo-Saxons rediscovered through portraits of thirty key figures from the era 550-1066. Michael Wood on Alfred the Great, King of Wessex and king of the Anglo-Saxons.

The Anglo Saxons are somewhat out of fashion, yet the half millennium between the creation of the English nation in around 550 and the Norman Conquest in 1066 was a formative one.

A few years back, the BBC held a Great Britons debate. In the final ten were the usual suspects; Darwin, Newton Brunel and Shakespeare. Ultimately Churchill won the people's vote and landed first place. For Churchill though, the only person he considered truly 'Great' was Alfred, the founder of the English state and ancestor of our present Queen.

Michael Wood chronicles Alfred's achievements: his writings; his reflections on kingship; his military skill; his rejuvenation of education and his legal expertise. Here are Alfred's own words about kingship.

'What I set out to do was to virtuously and justly administer the authority given to me. And I wanted to do it - so my talents and capacity might be remembered. But every natural gift in us soon withers if it is not ruled by wisdom. Without wisdom no talent can be fully realised: for to do something unwisely can hardly be accounted a skill. To be brief, I may say that it has always been my wish to live honourably, and after my death to leave to my descendents my memory in good works.'

Producer: Sarah Taylor.

19Alfred The Great20130131

20Aethelflaed, Lady Of The Mercians2013020120140806

The Anglo-Saxons rediscovered through portraits of thirty key figures from the era 550-1066. Martin Carver on Aethelflaed, lady of the Mercians, queen, wife, mother and field marshal.

The Anglo Saxons are somewhat out of fashion, yet the half millennium between the creation of the English nation in around 550 and the Norman Conquest in 1066 was a formative one.

No. 20 Martin Carver on Aethelflaed, lady of the Mercians, queen, mother and field marshal. There are 30 Aethelflaeds in the surviving Anglo-Saxon records, but one stands out about them all. Martin assesses Aethelflaed, Alfred's daughter who played such an important role in English history, yet is not as well known as she deserves to be. With the help of written and archaelogical evidence, we gain an intriguing insight into the life of this brilliant tactician and leader, afraid of nothing and nobody.

Producer: Sarah Taylor.

20Aethelflaed, Lady Of The Mercians20130201

The Anglo-Saxons rediscovered through portraits of thirty key figures from the era 550-1066. Martin Carver on Aethelflaed, lady of the Mercians, queen, wife, mother and field marshal.

The Anglo Saxons are somewhat out of fashion, yet the half millennium between the creation of the English nation in around 550 and the Norman Conquest in 1066 was a formative one.

No. 20 Martin Carver on Aethelflaed, lady of the Mercians, queen, mother and field marshal. There are 30 Aethelflaeds in the surviving Anglo-Saxon records, but one stands out about them all. Martin assesses Aethelflaed, Alfred's daughter who played such an important role in English history, yet is not as well known as she deserves to be. With the help of written and archaelogical evidence, we gain an intriguing insight into the life of this brilliant tactician and leader, afraid of nothing and nobody.

Producer: Sarah Taylor

21Leoba20130408

The return of the major series which rediscovers the Anglo-Saxons through vivid portraits of thirty individuals - women as well as men, famous and humble - written and presented by leading historians, archaeologists and enthusiasts in the field.

21.Leoba

Barbara Yorke tells the story of Leoba, the 8th century British-born nun who became a pioneering abbess in Germany, filling a role more typically held by men.

Leoba is the best-recorded of all the early Ango-Saxon women whose lives were changed and inspired by Christianity, and while she may be largely forgotten in Britain, she is still worshipped as a saint in Catholic areas of Germany today.

Barbara Yorke's Essay is a timely reflection on the power of such abbesses, who lived at a time before the church began to deny such power to women.

Producer: Beaty Rubens.

22Wynflaed2013040920140805

The return of the major series which rediscovers the Anglo-Saxons through vivid portraits of thirty individuals - women as well as men, famous and humble - written and presented by leading historians, archaeologists and enthusiasts in the field.

22.Wynflaed

Michael Wood presents a vivid portrait of Wynflaed, who has left us the first woman's will in British history - a document that, for the first time, opens a window on the life of an Anglo-Saxon woman below the rank of royalty.

With his characteristic passion for the era and ability to bring long-dead characters to life, Michael Wood recreates the story of Wynflaed, her family and household, through the clothes, jewellery and books which she left behind. He writes:

"Wynflaed to me is a recognisable English countrywoman: capable, fair-minded, strongly aware of class and status but with a sense of obligation to the less well off - pious and practical."

Producer: Beaty Rubens.

22Wynflaed20130409

The return of the major series which rediscovers the Anglo-Saxons through vivid portraits of thirty individuals - women as well as men, famous and humble - written and presented by leading historians, archaeologists and enthusiasts in the field.

22.Wynflaed

Michael Wood presents a vivid portrait of Wynflaed, who has left us the first woman's will in British history - a document that, for the first time, opens a window on the life of an Anglo-Saxon woman below the rank of royalty.

With his characteristic passion for the era and ability to bring long-dead characters to life, Michael Wood recreates the story of Wynflaed, her family and household, through the clothes, jewellery and books which she left behind. He writes:

"Wynflaed to me is a recognisable English countrywoman: capable, fair-minded, strongly aware of class and status but with a sense of obligation to the less well off - pious and practical."

Producer: Beaty Rubens.

23The Smith - Gold And Black2013041020140729

The return of the major series which rediscovers the Anglo-Saxons through vivid portraits of thirty individuals - women as well as men, famous we well as humble - written and presented by leading historians, archaeologists and enthusiasts in the field.

23. The Smith - Gold- and Black-.

Starting at the lonely grave of an anonymous smith buried in 7th century rural Lincolnshire, Lesley Webster vividly recreates the life of the smith and his ambivalent status in Anglo-Saxon society.

Drawing on archaeology and written sources such as Beowulf and Aelfric's Colloquy, she reflects on the practical role of the blacksmith in making everyday tools and weapons, and the legendary celebrity of a handful of goldsmiths, who created magnificent works of art such as the Alfred Jewel, which can still be seen in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford today.

Producer Beaty Rubens.

23The Smith - Gold And Black2013041020140729

23The Smith - Gold And Black20130410

The return of the major series which rediscovers the Anglo-Saxons through vivid portraits of thirty individuals - women as well as men, famous we well as humble - written and presented by leading historians, archaeologists and enthusiasts in the field.

23. The Smith - Gold- and Black-.

Starting at the lonely grave of an anonymous smith buried in 7th century rural Lincolnshire, Lesley Webster vividly recreates the life of the smith and his ambivalent status in Anglo-Saxon society.

Drawing on archaeology and written sources such as Beowulf and Aelfric's Colloquy, she reflects on the practical role of the blacksmith in making everyday tools and weapons, and the legendary celebrity of a handful of goldsmiths, who created magnificent works of art such as the Alfred Jewel, which can still be seen in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford today.

Producer Beaty Rubens

24Athelstan20130411

The return of the major series which rediscovers the Anglo-Saxons through vivid portraits of thirty individuals - women as well as men, famous we well as humble - written and presented by leading historians, archaeologists and enthusiasts in the field.

24. Athelstan

The son of King Alfred, Athelstan's concern for his people's well-being is apparent in his attempts to raise the age at which criminals might face the death penalty, to introduce the idea of prison as an alternative form of punishment, and to stop trading on Sundays - although this last provision did not catch on, and he was forced to revoke it later.

Sarah Foot makes a passionate claim for King Athelstan - whom the twelfth century historian, William of Malmesbury called the most law-abiding ruler that England had ever had - to be reinstated as a more significant figure in British history.

Producer : Beaty Rubens

25Cnut The Great20130412

The return of the major series which rediscovers the Anglo-Saxons through vivid portraits of thirty individuals - women as well as men, famous we well as humble - written and presented by leading historians, archaeologists and enthusiasts in the field.

25. Cnut the Great.

Cnut the Great is popularly remembered as the person who tried to stop the tide. But what else do people remember about him? There's so much more to his 19 year rule and in this essay Dr Timothy Bolton paints a vivid portrait of Cnut, son of Sven Forkbeard, the king of Denmark.

Producer : Sarah Taylor

262013041520140805

The Anglo Saxons are somewhat out of fashion, yet the half millennium between the creation of the English nation in around 550 and the Norman Conquest in 1066 was a formative one.

This major series rediscovers the Anglo-Saxons through vivid portraits of thirty key individuals.

Pauline Stafford assesses Queen Emma's life which was nothing short of eventful.

Her life was a roller coaster of Anglo-saxon politics. She was a young Norman woman in 1002 when she crossed the English Channel from Northern France to marry the English King, Aethelred. She's often remembered as the woman who made the fateful link between England and Normandy; her marriage being the first step towards the Conquest of 1066 and the end of Anglo-Saxon England.

After the defeat of Aethelred by the Danish conqueror, Cnut, she then became Cnut's wife. Few other Anglo-Saxon royal wives can match her importance during Cnut's reign.

Producer: Sarah Taylor

Billing Ends.

2620130415

The Anglo Saxons are somewhat out of fashion, yet the half millennium between the creation of the English nation in around 550 and the Norman Conquest in 1066 was a formative one.

This major series rediscovers the Anglo-Saxons through vivid portraits of thirty key individuals.

Pauline Stafford assesses Queen Emma's life which was nothing short of eventful.

Her life was a roller coaster of Anglo-saxon politics. She was a young Norman woman in 1002 when she crossed the English Channel from Northern France to marry the English King, Aethelred. She's often remembered as the woman who made the fateful link between England and Normandy; her marriage being the first step towards the Conquest of 1066 and the end of Anglo-Saxon England.

After the defeat of Aethelred by the Danish conqueror, Cnut, she then became Cnut's wife. Few other Anglo-Saxon royal wives can match her importance during Cnut's reign.

Producer: Sarah Taylor

Billing Ends.

27Aethelred The Unready20130416

The Anglo Saxons are somewhat out of fashion, yet the half millennium between the creation of the English nation in around 550 and the Norman Conquest in 1066 was a formative one.

This major series rediscovers the Anglo-Saxons through vivid portraits of thirty key individuals.

Aethelred's name is a combination of the Old English word aethel, meaning 'noble, excellent', and raed, meaning 'advice, counsel'. Simon Keynes probes the life of this Anglo-Saxon monarch who ruled over one of the most turbulent times of English history.

Producer: Sarah Taylor

BILLING ENDS.

28Edward The Confessor20130417

The Anglo Saxons are somewhat out of fashion, yet the half millennium between the creation of the English nation in around 550 and the Norman Conquest in 1066 was a formative one.

This major series rediscovers the Anglo-Saxons through vivid portraits of thirty key individuals.

Stephen Baxter creates a vivid portrait of Edward the Confessor. By any standards, Edward the Confessor lived a remarkable life, and left a still more remarkable legacy. He was a central figure in a period of turbulent politics, characterised by factional intrigue, rebellion, invasion and conquest. He personally experienced dramatic reversals in fortune, spending 25 years in exile before reigning as king of England for almost as long, through moments of periods triumph and humiliation. His posthumous life was similarly eventful. His death triggered the sequence of events that led to the Norman Conquest; and his place of burial, Westminster Abbey, became the focal point of a cult which eventually made Edward the patron saint of the English monarchy, and the abbey a national treasure.

Producer: Sarah Taylor

BILLING ENDS.

29Harold Godwinson20130418

The Anglo Saxons are somewhat out of fashion, yet the half millennium between the creation of the English nation in around 550 and the Norman Conquest in 1066 was a formative one.

This major series rediscovers the Anglo-Saxons through vivid portraits of thirty key individuals.

Clive Anderson has always been fascinated by Harold Godwinson whose life and reign came to a bloody end at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, which a thousand years on is still the most famous date in English history. In his humorous look at King Harold, he wonders why Shakespeare never chose to write a play about his life - which has all the elements of a gripping historical drama, and a great tragedy.

Producer: Sarah Taylor

BILLING ENDS.

30 LASTThe Makers Of The Bayeux Tapestry2013041920140729

The return of the major series which rediscovers the Anglo-Saxons through vivid portraits of thirty individuals - women as well as men, famous we well as humble - written and presented by leading historians, archaeologists and enthusiasts in the field.

30. The Makers of the Bayeux Tapestry

The Bayeux Tapestry is a magnficent testament to the close of the Anglo-Saxon era and the start of the Norman period, but suprisingly little is known about who made it or where it originally hung.

In painstaking detail, Gale Owen-Crocker uncovers how the wool was sourced, dyed and spun, how the linen background was woven, how the tapestry was designed and laid out, who wrote the Latin inscription, and, perhaps most importantly, who worked the embroidery - female or male, religious or secular, professional or amateur.

A remarkable in-depth cluster-portrait of the makers of one of the most significant works of art of European history.

Producer: Beaty Rubens.

30 LASTThe Makers Of The Bayeux Tapestry2013041920140729

30 LASTThe Makers Of The Bayeux Tapestry20130419

The return of the major series which rediscovers the Anglo-Saxons through vivid portraits of thirty individuals - women as well as men, famous we well as humble - written and presented by leading historians, archaeologists and enthusiasts in the field.

30. The Makers of the Bayeux Tapestry

The Bayeux Tapestry is a magnificent testament to the close of the Anglo-Saxon era and the start of the Norman period, but surprisingly little is known about who made it or where it originally hung.

In painstaking detail, Gale Owen-Crocker uncovers how the wool was sourced, dyed and spun, how the linen background was woven, how the tapestry was designed and laid out, who wrote the Latin inscription, and, perhaps most importantly, who worked the embroidery - female or male, religious or secular, professional or amateur.

A remarkable in-depth cluster-portrait of the makers of one of the most significant works of art of European history.

Producer: Beaty Rubens