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Michael Wood: In Search of the Dark Ages: 1 – In Search of Offa


Series overview

In Search of the Dark Ages is a BBC television documentary series, written and presented by historian Michael Wood, first shown between 1979 and 1981. It comprises eight short films across two series, each focusing on a particular character from the history of England prior to the Norman Conquest, a period popularly known as the Dark Ages. It is also the title of a book written by Wood to support the series, that was first published in 1981

This Episode

Wood begins the show by marvelling at Offa’s dyke. At Corpus Christi College, Cambridge he seeks clues about Offa of Mercia, a man who was King of Mercia for nearly 40 years, in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. He follows Offa throughout his kingdom seeking evidence of his reign – from Repton to Sutton Walls, Hereford, London, Irthlingborough, Gumley, Brixworth, and Worcester Cathedral. In winter Offa would return to his capital at Tamworth, but contemporary evidence of his great hall is scant. Back at the dyke, new research suggests the defensive method of the structure, while at Bedford Offa’s supposed tomb is now lost to the waters of River Great Ouse

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