« Previous | Main | Next »

Michael Wood's Story Of England

Post categories:

Michael Wood Michael Wood | 16:08 UK time, Wednesday, 22 September 2010

We are outside Mary's Deli in the village of Kibworth in Leicestershire, and I am scribbling this as the camera crew gulp a quick coffee, after an early start.

After epic journeys in the Story Of India, not to mention tracking Alexander through Afghanistan, and Pizarro Over The Andes, this feels like something of a homecoming.

Michael Wood atop Lewes castle

Now one year into Michael Wood's Story Of England and we all really feel at home here. Mary automatically puts extra milk in the producer's tea, and it's impossible to walk down the street without meeting people who have helped us.

But how did it all start? Well, I had always wanted to try to tell the whole story of English history from one place, through the eyes of the people, not the rulers.

I felt sure that looking at history from this perspective would tell a completely different but no less dramatic story and one which we all could relate to - as it would be the history of us.

And why Kibworth? I was led to Kibworth first by its remarkable archive of historical documents. And split by the A6 on the fringe of the multiracial city of Leicester, Kibworth is emphatically today's England in miniature.

So the Story of England is the tale of one community over time, but it could be any place. It could be yours.

Making the series all started over a year ago with the Big Dig, which you'll see in episode one. We advertised on BBC Radio Leicester and 250 locals turned up at the school hall for an archaeological weekend.

Supervised by experts, they dug 55 test pits (the most ever done in a single place). The dig was a success beyond our wildest dreams.

We got Roman sherds, remarkable early and late Anglo-Saxon pottery, all the way through the Middle Ages to the debris of Georgian coaching inns, frame knitters' workshops and even in one pit household throwouts from the 1960s!

And even the children really got into it - as one of the villagers, Louise Dodds said: "We've never seen the kids concentrate so hard in all our lives!"

Michael Wood with the Kibworth group dig

As the series continues, you'll see us go on to field walking, tree ring dating and DNA tests. We've found a Roman villa and Norman castle mound.

The villagers have researched in the National Archives, and we've gone with the high school kids on their battlefield tour to the Somme.

Through all this, tales have opened up of Viking settlers, medieval rebels, canal navvies, highwaymen transported to Australia, and suffragettes thrown into Holloway prison.

The village was even strafed and bombed by the Luftwaffe in World War Two. The local Home Guard commander camouflaged his beloved silver and red Singer sports car so well that he had to send out his men to find it: a scene worthy of Captain Mainwaring in Dad's Army!

And filming back in England after years on the road? Well, I used to think that washing in a mountain stream at dawn on the Hindu Kush and breakfast with black tea and coarse bitter bread was just about as good as it gets on a film shoot.

But now as the village wakes up, with Richard the postman doing his rounds, Debbie putting out the sign outside the bookshop, and Mrs Croxford (97 this month) heading down to the Co-op, I must say that Mary's Marmite toast and coffee runs it pretty close!

Michael Wood is the presenter of Michael Wood's Story Of England.

Michael Wood's Story Of England is on BBC Four at 9pm and BBC HD at 10.30pm on Wednesday, 22 September.

For all future programme times, please visit the upcoming episodes page.


  • Comment number 1.

  • Comment number 2.

    zzgood programme Michael but I sense that you muffled the transition from Roman to Anglo Saxon England. You said at one point that the native Brits (pre-Anglo-Saxon) were Celts, which is dubious; exactly who and what the Celts were is much disputed. One of your interviewees said, re a boney body I think, that the body might have been not only from a pre-Anglo Saxon family but from a pre-Roman one, stressing the continuity of settlement. You said that a river name was the same as that in Denmark, whence came the Angles; and later that the language of the Celts was replaced by that of the Anglo Saxons and so we came to speak old English. You did not suggest a major Anglo Saxon invasion post the Romans and I think it is becoming accepted that there wasn't one; that there was a migration from across the North Sea of Frisians and maybe Danes (Angles) is almost certain, but that was a continuation of an ancient movement which certainly pre-dated the Romans and continued during their occupation and may well go back to Doggerland; possibly this migration included tough gangs able to impose themselves as rulers in Eastern and Southern England but there is nothing in the archaeological evidence to indicate a mass misgration into England (nor out of Frisia etc). So what is the evidence for Anglo-Saxons who were not just a continuation of the native people of England, i.e., the same people as under and before the Romans, with intrusions, now coming to the surface with a modified culture? You will know about language displacement and these points suggest that there was insufficient new settlement to bring about a language replacement inside 200 years (or less) . The normans failed to displace English; Norse hung on in Orkney into the 17th century; and it is likely that the language of England did not change substantially under the Romans and continued during the so-called Anglo Saxon period. Apart from all that,. down with the Normans.

  • Comment number 3.

    I thorougly enjoyed the first episode of Michael Wood's Story of England and am very much looking forward to following the whole series. Mr Woods might be interested to know that (largely out of a passion for history) we (WAG Screen) recreated and filmed the famous series of images of everday life from the Luttrell Psalter. The process gave us an amazing insight into medieval life, from ploughing with a team of oxen to the way clothes were cut.
    I have also just been re-discovering In Search of the Trojan War, which really stands up to the test of time - any chance of an update?

  • Comment number 4.

    I really enjoyed the programme last night and will watch the ones yet to be screened.
    Knowing that my family had once lived in Kibworth, although I've never visited, and that my Great-Great Granddad had a pub there made it especially interesting...and then there you where in that pub..... The Coach and Horses. You also featured someone who I suspect has to be a distantly related...maybe I'm more Viking than I thought too. I'm sure that this wasn't the core intention of the programme but great for me to see a slice of my very own 'who do you think you are'.

  • Comment number 5.

    Loved the first episode and am a huge fan of Michael Wood, his programmes are invariably superb.

  • Comment number 6.

    This sounds wonderful...any chance it will show up on BBC America??? (Along with David Tennant's "The Single Father"?) So many wonderful programs on BBC...much better than some of the network stuff on American TV...(and cable fare, for that matter!)

    Carry on the great work!

  • Comment number 7.

    Another most interesting programme which, like all others,is totally
    ruined by unnecessary, inane and intrusive music,which adds nothing to
    the programme, and almost drowns out the informative dialogue.

    If the music addicts cannot do without music, perhaps the BBC can
    provde the rest of us with a "red button" facility, which we can press
    for dialogue only.

  • Comment number 8.

    Cracking good programme, as always. Now, when are we going to see repeats of Eric Bloodaxe et al from the 1970s? That would tie in nicely with the Viking parts of the Kibworth story

  • Comment number 9.

    Michael Wood has a superb and unique enthusiasm which captures the viewer and brings his programmes to life, well done BBC and MW

  • Comment number 10.

    As a result of background noise I am unsure of the "rare name" you mentioned. Was it Maerered?
    I only know of one:-
    Husband: Llewelyn ap Iorwerth Prince of Wales (AFN:GS56-CC) b.1173 Aberffraw Castle, Caernarvons. Pedigree
    1st Wife: Joan of England, daughter of King John I, Lackland
    Children: 1. Marered/Margaret 1st m. Sir Walter de Clifford 2nd m. John de Braose (Broiuze).
    2. Angharad m. Maelgwyn Fychan, Lord of Cardigan in Ayron.
    2nd Wife: Tangwystl of Rhos Tangwystl Verch Llywarch (AFN:91QG-KH) b.1168 Rhos, Denbighshire Pedigree
    Child: Gladys Dhu m. Ralph de Mortimer b.1190 d. 6 Aug 1246

    I am also sorry the BBC are so ill-mannered that they try to drown out your voice with unwanted noise/muzak/music??

  • Comment number 11.

    I enjoyed watching this programme and I am struck by "Richard's" comments above. I am not an expert but I thought it odd that you referred to the Anglo-Saxons coming to Britain. Surely Angles and Saxons came, and Anglo-Saxon was a specifically Britain-based construct. And was the non-German language spoken pre-Angle and Saxon invasion (whose existence Richard doubts - can you give us some refs RICHARD?) really to be described as "Welsh"? In places in this programme there were some lapses into English sentimentalism (e.g. "finding out who we really are") We are who we are, there's no "really" about it.
    My sources are mainly reading loads of stuff about the English language e..g. people like Crystal... plus Norman Davies etc.

    Oh yes and CROWBOLD the "music" intrusion, like in virtually everything the BBC does nowadays, was abominable. Someone who works at the BBC told me that they have teams who work on producing "styling" "background" etc for programmes. They have a name for it like "context" or "colour" which presumably includes this awful music. Can they all be sacked?

  • Comment number 12.

    As someone living in Kibworth I may be biased, but I think the program was excellent and I look very much forward to the next installment. Many hours of work have gone into this, and all of it to a very high standard.
    I must admit, I cannot understand the comments about the music. Music is always a matter of taste. I loved the way that at every turn where possible local people had involvement with this program, including some of the music.
    It is also really wonderful when people who have little knowledge or interest in history have now become interested, because this program has captured their imagination and made it come alive and relevant to them for today.

  • Comment number 13.

    KIBWORTHIAN; sure the local effort was great and shows that people will work together and stick with something when they have the chance to create something. Nothing at all gainst the local effort, or the local music. Just the awful BBC backup music that runs behind virtually all speech and certainly when you get to a shot of (say) a field. It is as if the BBC is saying "this shot of a field is highly evocative - now come on viewers, appreciate it". We are smart enough to spot where significance lies without the beeb playing a symphony in the background.

  • Comment number 14.

    As somebody living in Kibworth Harcourt and who has followed the progress of this TV series from its beginnings in the Kibworth Grammar School Hall on Saturday 25th July 2009 with Carenza giving instructions on how to dig a hole (sorry - pit!), I am so pleased by the final product.

    We had seen a short 3min. trailer previously, but having a whole 60 minute episode was spellbinding. I was so pleased I chose to watch it in the Coach & Horses along with friends and neighbours. The atmosphere was electric as every familiar face was greeted with cheers. It was absolutely fantastic, and I personally think the music was just right.

    Very well done Michael, Rebecca, Sally and the whole production team. We got to know you all so well over the 15 months you have been visiting, and you are always welcome. The BBC have a superb series of programmes about our villages, so thanks to everyone involved from the villages for helping make it.

  • Comment number 15.

    I enjoy the background music. It adds to the atmosphere of the programme. For those who miss stuff because of it, can I suggest they use the subtitles. My wife is hearing impaired, so we have them on as a matter of course.

  • Comment number 16.

    As a Kibbuth-ite, through & through an avid fan of history (& a Viking); I would like to congratulate Michael, Rebecca, Sally and everyone connected with this production. It is absolutely brilliant and I can't fault it one bit. All of you became part of our extended family over the past months and we will miss you all.Wishing you every success with "The Story of England" and your future productions.Thank you again and see you soon?

  • Comment number 17.

    A fascinating programme,I look forward to the following episodes. It occured to me that the majority of families taking part seemed to fit into a pattern, with a few exceptions. If their ancestry and DNA was examined I guess that very few would fit in with villagers of Kibworth who had lived there 50, 100, 200 or 500 years ago. Perhaps they wouldn't have much connection with the villagers of the pre 1970s. The majority seemed to be a reflection of the pattern of internal movement of late 20th century England [and to a lesser extent the rest of UK rural life] -middle class incomers. A few individual's names and DNA were traced back through the centuries but they did not seem to be representative of the amateur archeologists as a whole who seemed to make up the majority of participants..

  • Comment number 18.

    Fantastic start to this really exciting series! It was so great to see how Michael and his team brought together a focus of history that is truly unique. Having been part of it, I feel proud to be involved in a community who can call themselves English in the true sense of the word! Look forward to next week's episode.

  • Comment number 19.

    It's terribly frustrating, for a Leicestershire family-history researcher such as me, to know that this series exists, without being able to view it. Is there any way of obtaining a DVD version of the series?

    William Skyvington

    blog http://skyvington.blogspot.com [Personal details removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 20.

    Absolutly superb programme it follows that anything Michael does is brilliant but why oh why the music.Will it be issued on DVD.Like His other programmes I like rewatching them.

  • Comment number 21.

    I moved to Kibworth about 10 years ago so I can just about call myself a local! It's a place where I immediately felt comfortable and looking back I think that is because of it's complete Englishness. As a proud Englishman I had found somewhere that represents me. Michael Wood and the BBC have done a great job from what I have seen so far in bringing that Englishness to life. It is the history that surrounds us, the buildings, the clubs, pubs and institutions but most of all the people. English traits such as ingenuity, hard work, fair-play, warmth and bloody-mindedness are all in evidence here as is,I have to say, a fair smattering of class. These things make me proud to be English and are of course in evidence in many places up and down the country. In a globalised world it is more important than ever to keep hold of the sense of community that these shared traits and values create. Thanks to the BBC for the series and I hope the rest of the country enjoys it as much as we do in Kibworth.

  • Comment number 22.

    For me, the big surprise was the conversation with the ploughman, a few lines of Anglo-Saxon English about a topic I knew. And, while some words seem to have shifted, it didn't sound so different from the voices of the pre-wireless generation that I recall from my childhood. I could catch the gist of it without needing to read the subtitles.

    And seeing that blending of languages in the naming of the landscape, I wonder if that has happened in other parts of Europe. The classic example (although there's doubt it exists) is "Torpenhow Hill". There's certainly a viullage of that name near Bothel in Cumbria.

  • Comment number 23.

    Enjoyed the programme very much and looking forward to the rest of the series. However Michael repeated the current trendy hypothesis that the Anglo-Saxons were very much in the minority in "dark age" England and that the majority of the population were British. In spite of the fact that there is hardly a trace of Welsh in the English language and there are few if any Welsh place names in Leicestershire Michael maintained that by the 7th century Welsh was being replaced by English in Kibworth.
    Can we have some evidence for this statement bearing in mind that minority invaders of England such as Vikings and Normans, gave up their native tongues and adopted the indigenous language of their adopted country whereas the Anglo-Saxons most certainly did not.

  • Comment number 24.

    Having long been a fan of Michael's work in the medium of televised history, I can only say that this programme once again demonstrates his absolute mastery of the form - his ability to fuse fact and feeling in his presentation is a unique gift, and he seems to offer an insight into that distant era when history was as much the domain of the storyteller, or bard, as that of the 'academic' - as he breathes life into long-dead personalities, both humble and grand.

    The participation of present-day Kibworth residents in the unfolding story is a further sensitive gesture - and it is apparent that the entire community was swept up in the experience.

    A "national treasure" (to use that dread phrase) indeed...

  • Comment number 25.

    Dear michael
    Great programme but come to Minster-in-Thanet in Kent founded 697 where St Augustine landed in 597 AD from Rome. This is really old. Your idea of programme is excellent but we here go back to Roman, Bronze and even earlier. My own house is at least Elizabethan with a well in our kitchen !! Yes, in our kitchen. There even was a port here, our church Minster is where the word Minster was coined. York, West etc etc.named from here. At present they are building a dual carriageway and found bronze,& stone age burials sites. At Cliffs End there was a Bronze age Princess buried, and its older than Kibworth and we have Roman villas as well. Near here the Gold Chalice was found worth millions. This is where the Romans first landed in England at Richborough. When I saw your programme I felt you are missing something. You can even see the beginning of the first Roman road actually still in situ !!!!!!!
    So think about our area as one of the Earliset in the UK. Seasalter where our ancestors first made salt comercially by boiling seawater on charcoal vats.There is so much here in Thanet
    Alan Jones

  • Comment number 26.

    Brilliant programme.

    Especially impressive is your pottery expert.

  • Comment number 27.


    Excellent programme. If the rest of the series is as interesting and informative as this, it will be well worth watching. If (and this won't happen), when we get to the inevitable chapter about the racial invasion of England from June 23rd 1948, this could be presented honestly and without "celebrating diversity£, meaning as an invasion that the English have been restrained from ending by disloyal elites, that would be really something. But that history will never be written if the invasion succeeds.

  • Comment number 28.

    I agree with Guessedworker's point about the absolute need for honesty, especially with regard to historic events - but think it has been reasonably established that there is only one extant race of humanity which originated in Africa 200,000 years ago and "invaded" the rest of the planet as circumstances allowed or demanded. The parochial perception that some unspecified "local we" has a right in this vicinity to prevent some equaly undefined "foreign they" from joining us is erroneous. We are all direct descendents of Black Africans however blonde or arayan we have become. To deny access and hospitality to our relatives, however distant, is as bad-mannered and wrong-headed as the beligerent and murderous mode of arrival of some of our historic forebears.

  • Comment number 29.

    I too enjoyed the programme very much, especially the part where the old English and English words "loaned" from other languages came up.
    Some words are about the same as in Flemish or some local dialects.
    Shame they don't produce this kind of programme for Flemish television.

  • Comment number 30.

    Real fun again this week!
    I had stopped research into the history of my family years ago when I got to the 1860s and placed my Great-Great Granddad at the Coach and Horses as I didn't want to end up with just a list of names with no real meaning.... but watching the programme last night and being shown 'my family' were also there and prominent in the map from the 1260s was a real thrill. Also pleasing is that the present villagers are so involved and obviously enjoying it.

  • Comment number 31.

    A good programme refreshingly free from the silly gimmicks, tricksy camerawork and endless repetition so common on modern TV documentaries. And what a nice man Michael Wood is! More like this please.

  • Comment number 32.

    In response to BM, we came to live in Kibworth nearly 20 years ago and we have been involved in the making of this wonderful series. I have also been researching our family history. I come from Worcesterhire, hence my surprise when I found out that 150 years ago my ggg grandfather was living less than 20 miles away as a paper maker and my husbands ancestors appear to of been living in Kibworth 350 years ago, both our families were of humble beginings, agricultural labourers, framework knitters, miners and labourers, the "type" of people that have always lived in Kibworth. This series portrays the evolution of our ancestors - the English people and how the village has evolved in consequence.
    It has been a genuinely memorable and enjoyable experience for all of us.
    Thank you to Michael and all at Maya Vision

  • Comment number 33.

    Just reading the accompanying book and I'm afraid there's something in it I think is wrong. The Grammar School did not cease as an entity in 1964. In the Leicestershire re-organisation it became a comprehensive Upper School (14-18) and moved to Oadby. It is now called Beauchamp College. In the college reception are several reminders of the school's past, including a board listing all of the past head teachers. The school's website also states it "was formally an old-established grammar school in Kibworth dating back 600 years"
    The High School in the village used the old Grammar School buildings until the 1990's, with the old Head Teacher's House (now converted to flats) being the music department. The students used to have to walk across the village between lessons.
    I know this is too late to change in the book, but I guess you are still putting the finishing touches to the final episode (judging by the cameraman taking sunset pictures in the High Street last night!) and so this information might still be useful to you.

  • Comment number 34.

    Great programme, but please when is the BBC actually going to launch BBC One HD on Freeview? We were told Autumn 2010 in your July press release - well here we are in the autumn but no more news.
    Having also just read in a separate blog that all BBC programming will be produced in HD by April next year it's clear that ALL BBC programming needs to be broadcast in HD - please give us BBCs Two Three and Four HD as well on Freeview and be quick!

  • Comment number 35.

    @guessedworker. I work in the upper school in Oadby that grew out of Kibworth Grammar School. (Oadby is 5 miles north of Kibworth). The school is large (over 2000 students), successful (with consistently among the best results in Leicestershire) and multi-ethnic (with over 50% of the students being Asian). If you know Leicester, you will know that much of the City's prosperity has been built on the entrepreneurial drive of Asian immigrants. The Asian community started in the middle of Leicester, but as time has gone on, has increasingly moved out to the suburbs, including Oadby. I trust that with Kibworth being a nice place to live, that movement will continue and that people from the suburbs, including Asian families, will move into the village. This will confirm that Kibworth is not a historical oddity, but a living, vibrant, developing community. If this series shows us anything, it shows that to be English is to have roots from many races, Angles, Saxons, Vikings, Celts, Normans, to name but a few. Arguably it is the way that we have adapted and grown as a village that has made us strong. As someone who has lived in the village for 17 years, I know that increased diversity in Kibworth,in the long run, will only be to the good.

  • Comment number 36.

    Excellent - superb - highly informative .

    I've sent iplayer links to friends in America but it dont work over there. They are anxiously waiting to view it on - BBC America - I'm afraid short clips on PBS wont do justice to this program.

  • Comment number 37.

    Unlike 'silence-please' (Comment 7) I think the music is a wonderful backdrop to the excellent series, and I'd like to know more about it please.

  • Comment number 38.

    What a great idea: to reveal the history of England through a microcosm. I am thoroughly enjoying this series and find myself deeply moved by it in a way had I not expected.

    Wonderful lush landscapes and golden interiors - a feast for the eyes as well as the mind. And I completely agree with Paul Barrett (comment 37) about the music and how it complements the series. It's haunting, evocative, and just right.

  • Comment number 39.

    Really enjoying the series (not least as I've been tracing my own family history back to a village in Cheshire not dissimilar to Kibworth) . Please try to persuade the Beeb to post online the archive material you are referencing too. I’d love to see the whole of the programme (Chronicle/Timewatch?) on the Biddle’s Repton Viking dig again.

  • Comment number 40.

    Thank you Mr. Wood. This series has been brilliant so far. What a fantastic way to present history, getting the local people involved (yes I'm biased, I'm from a Leicestershire village too). This is the BBC at its best; Interesting, educational and addictive. More Please!

  • Comment number 41.

    Hello all, thanks for your comments. Regarding a DVD of Story Of England - William Skyvington #19 and Malcolm Faulkner #20 - I found out it's being released on 22 November.

    BBC TV blog editor

  • Comment number 42.

    Apologies for my late attention to the blog. We are still finishing the series! The final picture lock for episode six is today! And I haven’t yet written the commentary. Phew. It has been a huge but fulfilling undertaking over little more than one year. But above all great fun. The evidence for the history of the village has continued to pour in, and in the 20th century part of the story has been almost overwhelming: especially the oral contributions of the old people in Kibworth and Smeeton: memories of the thirties, the Second World War, the Prisoner of War Camp, the Evacuees, the Land Girls etc, not to mention the new post war housing estates!

    Anyway, thanks for all the messages of support and appreciation: the team are so glad that so many people are enjoying the series.

    One or two specific questions, in so far as I am able:

    2. At 10:45pm on 22 Sep 2010, richard wrote: What is the evidence for Anglo-Saxons who were not just a continuation of the native people of England?

    The basic evidence is in the DNA: estimates of the Anglo-Saxon element in our DNA vary ( try eg Stephen Oppenheimer’s The Origins of the British, David Miles’s terrific The Tribes of Britain; Brian Sykes’s Saxons Vikings and Celts; and the UCLA genetics team’s website etc ) but no one thinks their contribution to our DNA is likely to have been more than a ten-fifteen per cent addition. So they are armed elites establishing their ‘kingdoms’ across lowland Britain, and language change comes with them in the eastern and central parts of Britain over probably about 400 years.
    Peter Liddle’s idea in episode one means what it says: that ‘they were the same people’ simply means that the mass of the rural workforce in the 6th-7th c was presumably descended from the late Roman Welsh speaking population. As a model for cultural change I find that very realistic and persuasive: remember linguistic change is not the same as ethnicity.
    As for the length of time language change took, my guess is influenced by the fact that St Guthlac still heard Welsh in the wilder fastnesses of the Fens in around 700.

    10. 24 Sep 2010, Crowbold wrote: As a result of background noise I am unsure of the "rare name" you mentioned. Was it Maerered?

    It was Meriet: the most important thegn-landowner in Kibworth in 1066 was Aelfric son of Meriet: an important East Midlands local landowner who features most strongly in the Lincolnshire Domesday, but who also had the manor of Wolvey on the A5 in Warwickshire. More details on him in the PASE website which enables you to ref every person of whom record survives from Anglo-Saxon England.

    23. 29 Sep 2010, Jofrad wrote: There is hardly a trace of Welsh in the English language and there are few if any Welsh place names in Leicestershire Michael maintained that by the 7th century Welsh was being replaced by English in Kibworth. Can we have some evidence for this statement bearing in mind that minority invaders of England such as Vikings and Normans, gave up their native tongues and adopted the indigenous language of their adopted country whereas the Anglo-Saxons most certainly did not.

    See above: the Vikings and Normans of course kept their language for a long time, but they lived in a bilingual state: in which Viking speech profoundly influenced English the other way round. A propos of this I can remember being a reporter for YTV in Yorkshire in the seventies and up in the wilder parts of Yorkshire the Viking dialect words were still very strong: in Hunderthwaite some shepherds still counted in Danish: yan tan tethera etc; when Barry Hines Kes came out in 1970 it had to be subtitled in London!! Cumbrian friends of mine told me long ago that the Lakeland dialect (Norse-influenced) spoken by the Westmorland fusiliers was rich enough for them to make themselves understood in Trondheim in 1940!! So language change can be long and slow in more outlying places.
    Now for Welsh: Welsh gets replaced completely in lowland Britain: it is assumed to have been still spoken in the Western Mercian subject states in the Marches like the Magonsaete and the Wrocensaete; it is thought(I am writing from memory now) to have still been spoken in the early 7th century in the Western Mercian Staffs/Shrops borderland (see Margaret Gelling’s The West Midlands) ; As for the length of time language change took, as I said above, my guess is influenced by the fact that St Guthlac still heard Welsh in the wilds of the Fens in around 700. But it is only a guess. Barrie Cox’s authoritative Place Names of Gartreee Hundred (recently published by the English Place Name Society) records the odd survivals in our part of Leicestershire, plus place names like Walton: in English the ‘village of the Welshmen’ . In Kibworth itself Cox picked up a very interesting field name in the 17th century Kibworth Beauchamp open fields, the Gric or cric , ?crig or crig: Welsh for ‘hill’ and referring to an important feature ( a huge furlong?) in the open field. A survival in farming speech along with all the Viking field names?
    The survival of part of the late Roman field pattern in Kibworth was speculated by the local archaeologist Bert Aggas and recorded in Cicely Howell’s book on Kibworth Harcourt: The assumption is that the 1000 yard long Banwell furlong in particular (where Aggas excavated the medieval ridge and furrow and found Roman pottery in the ridges) was an Iron Age field which never fell out of cultivation. It is discussed in my book.

    Thanks for all your kind comments!

  • Comment number 43.

    dear michael wood

    thank you for showing Kibworth again

    my mother was born at the old swan and my granparents lived at
    marsh drive until they moved

    my great grand dad was gordon coleman and it is nice to know that there are still colemans there and that is where i come from

  • Comment number 44.

    I like Michael Wood very much but since I am not English I wish he would not address his British audience as if it consisted only of the English ('we' and 'us' etc).


  • Comment number 45.

    I have always been a great fan of Michael Wood ever since one of his first programmes on Boudicca brought history to life. Have already pre ordered The Story of England on DVD and ordered the book.
    Have also, as I live in Malta been waiting for him to make a series on the Knights of St John and the Great Siege of Malta of 1565. Series material if ever was needed and what a story and of course connected with the Order in Britain.

  • Comment number 46.

    Oh Michael, Yen Tan Tethera is CELTIC not Danish ! Without doubt the British Language survived in the Pennines, Cumbria and parts of Lancashire long after it died out in the rest of England, see Cumbric Language and placename evidence.
    Bertram Colgrave in the introduction to The Life of Saint Guthlac states that the survival of Welsh in The Fens is very unlikely due to the lack of evidence for British survival in the region and the fact that British placenames in the area are "very few".
    If Welsh and English co-existed for such a long time as you are suggesting then it would surely follow that English would possess many Welsh loan-words which it most certainly does not.
    When teutonic minority invaders settled in France, Spain, Portugal and Italy after the collapse of the Roman Empire, becoming the ruling elite, they adopted the speech of the indigenous population, albeit somewhat modified.The fact that this did not happen in England suggests to me that the Anglo-Saxons were not in the minority.

  • Comment number 47.

    I've just watched the programme about the civil war and industrial revolution eras at Kibworth and it had a short piece with some Australian researchers looking for information on their relative Charles Beasley.
    He was sent to NSW as a convict and his name sounded familiar to me. He was actually the Inn keeper in Windsor, NSW, that my own convict ancestor, Jeremiah Sullivan was assigned to when he arrived in NSW in 1814.
    Here I am in Brentwood, England, watching a programme about an English village and there on the screen is a descendant of the ex-convict boss of my ex-convict gggg-grandfather!

  • Comment number 48.

    I feel that when you are perusing the ancients papers you discover and report on, you should wear white gloves at least. These are precious unique documents and will decay the more you turn the pages and finger acid comes into contact with them.

    Your example will encourage others to respect and preserve our archives.

  • Comment number 49.

    Hi All, with episode 6 fast approaching I thought I'd better say how excellent this series has been. Not only because I am in it, but the camerawork, dialogue, sound, casting, production, editing,etc. have been out of this world. I hope that it wins many awards (it deserves it!!). Again I would like to thank everybody connected with it (including my fellow parishoners). Am I related to AerinT? I know that I am related to Cosmocyberpuss, we will have to get in touch some how! Finally, Michael we have taken your team and yourself to our hearts and you are welcome back at any time, just let us know when you are on your way and we'll pop the kettle and toaster on !!!

    Kind Regards W.

  • Comment number 50.

    I loved the series, and am disappointed that ir's is now finished! I think it was a really clever idea, and brought history to life. I would love to see more programmes along similar lines.

  • Comment number 51.

    Hello, have enjoyed the series very much. There was one item in the final programme which is incorrect. It concerns a brief mention of the 'landgirls' during the war and showed an even briefer image of a Ferguson TE20 tractor. The implication was that the tractor was used during the war. In fact the first TE 20 did not come off the procuction line at Banner Lane in Coventry until 1946.

  • Comment number 52.

    A totally relevant and accessible way of exploring 'our' history and easy to see why Kibworth was chosen. It would also be interesting to know which other locations around Britain were considered initially.
    Especially poignant for me in the last programme were the descriptions given of a few residents during the Victorian era. The description given of Mrs Coleman was instantly recognisable to me and could easily have been a description of her granddaughter, my great aunt, 60 years later in her own pub, in a similar village, nearly 50 miles away.
    Wayne wondered if we may be related, I suspect we are.

  • Comment number 53.

    I dont think the Angles and Saxons came to England after c450 AD but that there was a continuous movement of people from nw europe into eastern england from the time Doggerland sank so that the people of the two areas are largely one, and spoke roughly the same language. frisian is still the nearest language to English. The reference I can offer is Phillip Oppenheimer, The Origin of the British People (I think). My argument pre-dates my reading of his work, which is based on genetics and difficult. My argument derives from Renfrew's Archaeology and Language and my growing belief that it was impossible for a small number of nw European incomers to destroy the english language in about 150 years. Hence tney didnt; English waspre-Roman, Roman and post-Roman


  • Comment number 54.

    With reference to last nights Story of England. 8min 5sec into the programme Prof Chris Dyer refered to an amount recorded as to the value of 2 chairs and a cupboard as 3 shillings adding the comment "They were not big spenders on furniture." Surely 3 bob was a considerable sum of money then. Later reference was made by the prof to a dowry of 20 shillings giving further weight to my assertion that 3 bob was a very significant sum of money.

  • Comment number 55.

    What a wonderful way of recounting our peoples history, I have so enjoyed The Story of England, the methodology of the programme is such good History. Well done! Every episode has made me think wow thats us.

  • Comment number 56.

    Well Done BBC and Michael Woods....I've really enjoyed this series,although missed one episode as it was not on BBc 2 every week. Hope the whole programme will be repeated soon and that it will come out on DVD.I'm sure the people of Kibworth must have gained so much from taking part. What a good idea Michael ....such an interesting way to tell the history of England.
    Agree about background music....it spoils so many of the programmes I enjoy watching ...please stop doing it.

  • Comment number 57.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 58.

    Wonderful programme as always by Michael Wood....he brings history to life! I bet the children of Kibworth will never forget being involved.
    Look forward to other interesting programmes. Well done Michael and the BBC for giving us quality

  • Comment number 59.

    I thoroughly enjoyed the series but the last programme showing second world war soldiers singing 'we are the Leicester boys' reminded me of my former wife's description of her late father, a South Derbyshire coal miner who fought in WW1 in the Leicestershire regiment. He apparently told her that at some time in the past the regiment had disgraced itself and the officers kept volunteering for the most dangerous jobs to re-establish it's reputation. Obviously I don't know how serious he could have been but he apparently said the no officer would go in front of his men or he ran the risk of being shot in the back. However he must have fought at close quarters and could wake up screaming in the night; he said the germans have such blue eyes. On Armistice day he would say 'bah' and go to the pub to get drunk which as the last few survivors fade away, rightly respected, I don't suppose my late father-in-law's views were unique.

  • Comment number 60.

    Hello Michael,
    Thanks for the great programmes you have been consistently delighting us with. This thread may not be the best place to say what I want to say, but I could find no other way of contacting you - so hope you will read this one day! I own the blu ray of your series 'The Story of India' and loved the wonderful history that you presented in your unique style. However I did notice that there was just no mention of the North East of India. Being myself from Assam, the land of tea and the one horned rhino unicornis, I did feel a unique part of India was left untold. The NE part of India has its own unique story and an amazing biodiversity not found anywhere in India or elsewhere, and some parts are indeed the fabled Shangri-la hidden from the gaze of the outside world. I hope you will take up a mini series one day on this unique region, and I am happy to give you all my suggestions and ideas for this. Thank you very much!!


  • Comment number 61.

    Is it possible to get this series in the US? I follow practically everything Michael Wood does and as a media historian he's top of my list. Would love to know there's some way of viewing this ASAP.


More from this blog...

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.