Film: 9455

History | 1960 | Sound | Colour

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Synopsis:

Archaeology. A look at the progression of early man in the United Kingdom from the Stone Age, through the Bronze Age and Iron Age to Roman times. Explores various sites and excavations around the country. Examines objects and archaeological finds and explains how we can learn about the people who made these objects. Looks at ancient burial mounds, dwellings and communities including Avebury. Also examines standing stones and stone circles around the country including Stonehenge.

A man is stooped over walking through a low cave. He squats down to pause and look around. Acknowledgement text 'This film has been made possible by the co-operation and assistance of the Society of Antiquities of London; the Trustees of the British Museum, National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland; The Ministry for works; Council for British Archaeology; University of London Institute of Archaeology; University of Cambridge; Ipswich, Norwich and Devizes Museums and many others who have given generous help in this production.
Close up of a man examining a piece of rock. View of an archaeological dig with mountains in the background. Many people are in trenches, there are wheelbarrows and digging equipment on the sites. Narrator states that science plays an increasing part in excavations. In a room five objects that have been excavated are on a desk. A man stands behind the desk and shows each object to the camera. The narrator explains what the five objects are and that each object tells a story of early man in Britain. Close up of etching depicting a trench through a steep hillside showing people digging. Narrator explains the long history of archaeology and the tools people use to excavate digs. Excavations became popular in the eighteenth century with collectors of ancient curiosities. Close up of a drawing of some of these curiosities, thought to be made by ancient Britons or Druids. Close up of a drawing of a Druid. Close up of some excavated objects on a desk. A man behind the desk picks up a flint axe head and examines it. Narrator explains how the discovery of the flint axe head in 1797 changed people's perceptions. View of a brickworks. Narrator explains the flint axe head was found in the brickworks in Hoxne in Suffolk, by John Frere. He found hand axes twelve inches down in the earth together with the bones of extinct animals. Close up of a book containing a drawing of the axe head. Narrator says that John Frere wrote to the Society of Antiquaries in London. Narrator reads a section of the report on the axe head made by the Society.
A man walks through a narrow but high cave. Narrator says that 40 years after the find in Hoxne, another find was made in Kents Cavern in Devon. The bones of a rhinoceros and a bear were found together with tools. The British Association for the Advancement of Science concluded the antiquity of man based on the findings in this cave. The man in the narrow high cave squats down, picks up a bone and examines it.
On a desk in an office there are various flint and stone objects. A man behind the desk picks up the objects and turns them over in his hands for the camera to see them. Narrator states that with the growing evidence, investigation into the various stages of man started. Close up of a large axe head held in a man's hand. Narrator explains this was found in a gravel pit in Kent together with a skull. The man puts the axe head on the table and picks up the fragments of a skull. Narrator says this is the oldest evidence of Neolithic Man in the UK. It dates to a quarter of a million years ago.
View of a steep exposed bank that shows the various layers of soil, sediment and stone. At the base of the bank a man uses a small pick to extract pieces of rock from the bank. He has a panning sieve by his side. He examines the pieces of rock he has collected. The narrator explains that a geologist can tell that man lived in the warm periods between the Ice Ages. View of a steep valley in Derbyshire. Narrator explains that as the ice ages came to an end the melt water in the form of raging rivers cut through the landscape. View of rocky outcrops of the valley and the rocky landscape. Narrator says that in this type of environment Early Man found shelter. Close up of a bone or antler with carving on it. Narrator says it is an example of early man's art. The carving depicts a horses head. Close up of a diagram showing the various layers of earth, sediment and stone. Narrator explains that the layer that an object is found in can provide a date for the object. Image of a man using a pick against a bank of earth. He collects the earth and stone samples in a panning sieve. Narrator says that geologists can only provide a rough idea of date of objects, and that this way of dating objects also is only useful in the areas of the UK which were affected by the ice sheets. Close up of a map showing the extent of the ice sheets in the UK. Narrator explains that other methods of dating are being refined.
In a laboratory a handling a large test tube full of liquid. He is standing by some large equipment, test tubes and other apparatus. Close up of a man filling a test tube with organic matter. Narrator says that the age of organic matter can be determined using the Carbon 14 method. The amount of radioactive carbon in organic materials can be measured to give their age. Close up of a machine called a 'Dekatron Counter' which is used in the laboratory. Close up of a roll of bark. A woman picks the bark up and shows it to the camera. Narrator says it was found in a lake side settlement in Yorkshire where Neolithic people settled. Close up of Neolithic hunting tools made from antlers. Close up of a necklace with roughly made beads. Close up of branches of birch wood arranged neatly in a long pile on the ground. Narrator says these branches formed a floor of an early dwelling. This proves that the environment had changed from tundra type landscape to a temperate one. where birch would grow. Close up of birch twigs and branches on the ground. A man takes a sample of soil from a site of an ancient dwelling. Narrator says it will be tested for pollen grains. In a laboratory, a man looks through a microscope. Pictures of pollen grains are on his desk. Narrator says that the pollen shows what plants were growing at the time, therefore what the climate was like. A bar diagram shows the change in climate over the years. A large change on the diagram is pointed to by a man holding a pencil. Narrator says for 7000 years it grew warmer.
In 3500 BC grain was brought to Britain. Close up of some objects on a desk. A man behind the desk picks up some grain and shows it to the camera. Narrator says early man started to grow food rather that search for it. Close up of the grain in the man's hand. Traces of various grains have been found in fragments of Neolithic pottery. Close up of pottery showing embedded grains.
Aerial view of Windmill Hill in Wiltshire showing the circle pattern in the land where ancient sites were located. A close up of a plan of the Windmill Hill site. The plan shows 3 circles of pits. Narrator says the use of the pits is uncertain. Other pits have been found. Close up of a photograph of the landscape showing the countryside is criss-crossed with ancient trenches and structures. Close up of a pottery bowl. Narrator explains that pottery was hand made and replaced leatherwork and basket ware to some extent. Pots were decorated by simple methods of using the fingers, bone or rope designs. Close up of the decoration on a bowl. View of three wooden boxes full of fragment of pottery. Narrator explains that pottery was found at many sites. A woman sorts pieces of pottery on a desk. Narrator says it is practically indestructible and that pottery is valuable for dating objects. A man sits at a desk and pieces together various fragments of pottery to form its original shape. A woman uses a glass microscope slide to gather the dust and small chips of pottery onto the slide. Narrator says it is possible to locate the source of the pottery showing the movement of people and goods around the country. Close up of the slide under the microscope. Narrator says that the minerals in the pottery are detected. Close up of an axe head. Narrator says that the minerals in the axe head can also prove where it originated. Close up of an outline map of Britain showing the trade routes between England and Wales. Close up of two flint axe heads, one smooth and one rough. A man holds them in his hands to show the camera. Narrator says that the later flint axes were polished. Scene of a Neolithic settlement in the Orkney Islands. The settlement is preserved in the sand dunes. It comprises huts that were built of large flat stones with turf roofs. A network of trenches joins the various huts. Internal view of a roofless stone hut, evidence of internal walls and a hearth. Narrator describes the hut, they have cupboards and a stone bed. Stone huts replaced earlier wooden ones. View of several standing stones and stone circles. Narrator explains that the idea of these stones originated in the Mediterranean. Views of various stone circles. View of a burial mound. Narrator says prehistoric graves provide a lot of information. Chieftains were buried in barrows, they often had a forecourt where religious ceremonies would take place. View of a long barrow. View of another barrow on the Berkshire Downs, this barrow looks like a long bank of earth edged with large flat stones embedded in the sides of the barrow. It is a Royal tomb. View of the inside of the tomb showing the individual graves. Narrator says tombs are often de-nuded of soil. View of a large stone tomb on a hillside that no longer has soil covering it. A man looks towards the tomb, which look like a configuration of standing stones. Aerial view of Avebury in Wiltshire, the village is surrounded by a large circular mound. Narrator says that the population of the UK was 20,000 in 2500 BC. Views of the mound at Avebury. Narrator explains that this place must have been important to those who built it. View of a circle of standing stones within the mound. The ditch around them is visible. Narrator says when the ditch was excavated it was found to be forty feet deep. Close up of a photograph of a man standing at the bottom of this ditch. View of an avenue of standing stones. Narrator says the avenue of standing stones continues from Avebury to the man made Silbury Hill which is two miles away. View of Silbury Hill. View of a stone circle in the Hebrides. This circle has eight avenues coming off it. Image of Arbor Low in Derbyshire. It is a circular trench with stones on a central mound. Image of Stonehenge. Narrator explains the shape and position of the stones are very precise. Views of Stonehenge. Narrator explains the construction of Stonehenge. The construction of upright and lintel stones is unique to this site. Aerial view of Stonehenge. Narrator explains it was built over a 500 year period from 1500 BC. Diagram of the ditch at Stonehenge. Animation on the diagram shows the central circle and the avenue which is two miles long and ends at the river Avon. Narrator explains that the blue stones which make up Stonehenge were brought from Pembrokeshire in Wales. The outer circles of Stonehenge were never completed. By 1400 BC work on Stonehenge ended. Close up of a model of Stonehenge. Narrator explains that Stonehenge was built on the axis of the midsummer sunrise, this may suggest the monument was a place to worship the sun. The model shows the path of the midsummer sun over Stonehenge. Views of the upright stones. Close up of one stone. Narrator explains that this stone has a carving on it of an axe and a bronze dagger similar to those found in Mycenae.
On a table top three objects are placed. A man standing next to the table picks up the central object. Narrator explains that metal was beginning to be used. Bronze is a mixture of copper and tin. Close up of a cast bronze axe head in its mould. View of Saint Michael's Mount in Cornwall. Narrator explains that copper came from Ireland and tin from Cornwall. Close up of pottery vessels. Narrator explains that the people who first brought the technology of metal to the UK were known as the 'Beaker Folk' after the shape of their pottery vessels. The vessels were found in their graves together with a knife and an arches wrist guard. Close up of metal objects, one gold. Narrator explains that the need for metal increased trade and accumulated wealth. Wessex developed a rich aristocracy. A man show a metal object to the camera. Narrator explains it is an amber disc surrounded by gold and that it is similar to those found in Crete. Close up of a beaded necklace. Narrator says that the blue beads came from Egypt and the amber beads came from Denmark. Image of a mass of bronze items. Image of three pottery vessels. Narrator says that this design of vessel replaced those used by the 'Beaker Folk'.
Image of a round mound. Narrator explains that Bronze Age barrows were round, Neolithic barrows were long in shape. View of an excavated round barrow being excavated by a Research Group. Views of their excavation of the barrow. Narrator explains the barrow's construction. Close up of some post holes in the ground at the centre of the barrow. The Research Group have placed sticks in the post holes to show where the posts would have been. A man shows the camera a cross section of a post hole. Image of the sticks in the post holes, they are arranged in four rings. Image of archaeologists working on the barrow. View of the ditch in an early barrow. View of archaeologists working in the barrow. Close up of two archaeologists removing soil from the ditch. Narrator explains that the outline of a wooden coffin has been unearthed. Image of an archaeologist removing soil from the coffin. Close up of coffin. Narrator explains the coffin has a rounded end, therefore it was made from oak. Image of the archaeologist uncovering a food vessel in the grave. He uses a brush to carefully remove the soil. Narrator explains the difficulties in working in cramped conditions. Close up of the pottery vessel after it has been freed from the earth. Two archaeologists examine the vessel. Narrator says that it is the Yorkshire Type and is early bronze age. Close of a man examining a pot. View of a large rock on a hillside in Northumberland. The rock is flat and is partly covered by grass. The rock is elaborately carved with circular markings. Narrator says that metal workers used to decorate stone. Close up of the carvings.
Aerial view of the British countryside. Narrator explains that agriculture became more widespread in the bronze age and that the image shows the ancient field boundaries. View of a hillside in Cornwall and the remains of a group of stone huts. Narrator says that by 500 BC iron begins to replace bronze as the preferred metal. Views of the ruins of the stone huts. Narrator explains that the huts were built around a central courtyard. The had store rooms, paved floors and drainage systems. Diagram of a village of stone huts found near Glastonbury. Narrator explains how they were built. Illustration of how the village may have looked. Narrator says that it was built on marshland on the banks of a lake. Diagram of an early iron age farmhouse in East Anglia. It is seventy feet across. Narrator describes the farmhouse. Close up of a model of the farmhouse.
Aerial view of a Herefordshire beacon that was once an iron age fort. Narrator explains that by 300 BC warring people came to Britain hill forts began to be constructed. Maiden Castle, a fort in Dorset covered 45 acres. Narrator explains how the fort was defended. View of the ruins of a stone farmhouse with a lake or the sea in the background. Narrator explains that in the north of the country farmhouses were fortified. Image of a stone tower in the Orkneys. View of a stone walled circular pit. Narrator says that these were storage pits. View of a pit containing the skeleton of a pig. Narrator says that the rubbish pits can provide a lot of information.
On a desk in an office there is a book and two large bones. They appear to be the bones from a human leg. A man picks up a bone and examines it. Narrator explains that these bones show that a broken bone did not receive any medical aid. A man examines a human skull that has a large hole in it. Narrator says this is evidence of a battle. The man measures the size of the hole.
In the first century BC a new race of people reached Britain. They were the first to use coins and money instead of using the barter system to get goods. A man shows the camera an early coin dating from 50 BC. The design of the coin is based on a Greek coin. The man places a Greek coin in his hand next to the first coin to show the camera. Close up of a pot being turned on a pottery wheel. Narrator says that Blackware pottery was being produced by professional potters. Image of the finished pot. Close up of a loom weight, a comb and a spindle. Narrator says that weaving was also well established. Close up of metal vessels. Man in a white coat examines a broken metal vessel. Narrator says that the metal vessels were well made and although metal corrodes it can be restored. Image of a man in a white coat working on an iron age cauldron. Close up of two wheels found in Scotland. Narrator says that wheeled carts replaced sleds and that the metal rim and nails of the wheels can still be seen. Close up of a wooden boat encased in earth. Narrator says it was found near the River Humber. It is fifty feet long and eight feet wide. Close up of a metal shield. Narrator says late iron age work was very decorative. Some designs were similar to the Celtic designs. Close up of a spiral bracelet. Narrator says that this type of bracelet, which look like a coiled snake were made in Scotland. Close up of a shield. Narrator says that some design incorporated stylized images of animals or plants or had inlaid enamel. Close up of a twisted thick gold necklace or collar. Narrator says it was used in ceremonies. Close up of another thick gold collar made up of many twisted strands. Narrator says it is from Norfolk. Woman shows the ornate workmanship on the collar to the camera. Close up of metal back of a mirror showing intricate engraving on it. Narrator says the work is very fine and the flowing lines show a Celtic influence. Aerial view of the White Horse carved into a hillside in Wiltshire. Narrator says it shows the same flowing Celtic lines. Aerial view of the Cerne Abbas Giant carved into the hillside. Narrator says it may be a fertility god. Aerial view of the Long Man of Wilmington carved into the hillside. Narrator says these images in the landscape may date from the late iron age.
Close up on a map of the UK showing the various tribes' territories. Narrator says that in 100 BC the population of the UK was about 250,000 but within 150 years this had doubled to about 500,000. It was about this time that the Roman's came. Close up of ruins of a Roman wall. View of a Roman road. Narrator says that the Romans changed the British landscape. View of the foundations of a Roman settlement. View of the ruins of a line of pillars. Close up on a model of the town of Chester. Narrator explains that this was a new way of life. Close up of items on a table, a flint arrowhead, some bark, some grain, metal ore and a coin. Narrator sums up how people have changed in the UK. View of men working in a laboratory to restore and study archaeological objects. Narrator says we can piece together the past, but our ignorance is still greater than our knowledge. Image of a man in a pit excavating something. Close up of a beaded necklace. Narrator says that objects inform us about the people who made them. Close up of the ornate gold collar.


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