1994 Series, Episode 01 - Athelney, Somerset
The guerilla base of the King
Tony Robinson: Do you remember this story from you primary school days?
King Alfred the Great is on the run from the Vikings right and he dives into this vast network of salty marshes that completely covered this area during the 9th century, and he sees this little mud hut that belonged to a swineherd and his wife and he tells them that he's a deserter from the English army and they agree to hide him. And the swineherd goes off and gets on with his jobs, she goes off and does her chores, and Alfred's sitting there completely wrapped in thought, and he doesn't notice this huge black cloud pouring out of the fire, and the swineherd's wife comes back in and she's absolutely livid "You couldn't be bothered to keep an eye on my cakes could you" she says, "but you wouldn't mind shovelling them down your throat when they were baked would you you greedy fat lumox".
So what does Alfred do? Does he storm off in some kingly huff? No Alfred the Great is a man of the people, he's like some 9th century chay bavara figure. He just apologises profusely,and in some royal way that i've never quite understood, he uses the whole experience as a kind of learning curve that enables him to gather all his people together and lead them in another charge against the Vikings.
So... Is that just a little romantic tale or was it based in historical fact? Well, the Time Team is in Somerset this week on the Somerset levels and we're here because one particular Somerset family has got a very interesting piece of Alfred's history right on their doorstep, and they'd like us to try and sort it out for them.
Tim Morgan: Dear Time Team, for over 50 years my family and I have found at Athelney. We are aware it is the site of Alfred's abbey and it is believed he had a fort here. Can you produce any evidence of those buildings and show what Athelney looked like in Alfred's time? Your's sincerely, Tim Morgan, Athelney Farm.
Presenter: Tony Robinson.
The Time Team: Mick Aston, Geraldine Barber, Carenza Lewis, Phil Harding, Robin Bush, Victor Ambrus.
Geophysics Team: John Gater, Dr Chris Gaffney, Dr Susan Ovenden, Claire Stephens.
Cameras: Nick Dance, Mike Brennan, Graham Geddis.
Sound: Steve Shearn, Rex Phillips, Tim Butcher, Dick Phillip.
Graphics: Sue Francis, Steve Breeze.
Original Music: Graeme Pleeth.
Communications: Joe Ellison.
Set Designer: Hamish Darlington.
Gaffer: Garry Owen.
Off-line Editor: Martin Lee.
On-Line: Roger Watling.
Dubbing Mixer: Colin Martin.
Production Manager: Diana Hunter.
Research: Ella Galinski, Joanna Scofield.
Archaeological Consultant: Mick Aston.
Local Archaeological Consultant: Bob Croft.
Associate Producer: Tony Robinson.
Executive Producer: Jim Manson.
Producer: Tim Taylor.
Director: Graham Dixon.
Series Producer: Tim Taylor.
|Filmed:||16th, 17th and 18th April 1993.|
|First Broadcast:||16th January 1994, on Channel 4.|