Ipswich Man

Image for Ipswich ManNot currently available on BBC iPlayer

History Cold Case, Series 1 Episode 1 of 4

Duration: 1 hour

History series which sees skeletons of everyday people from across the ages analysed in staggering detail, opening new windows on the history of our forebears by literally revealing the person behind the skeleton.

The fascinating work of world-renowned Professor Sue Black OBE and her team at the Centre for Human Anatomy and Identification at the University of Dundee comes under the spotlight as the team works on answering three big questions from the skeleton. Who were they? Why did they die? What does their life story tell us that we didn't know before?

Using the full arsenal of modern forensic anthropology, remarkable stories emerge from long forgotten bones, along with the faces of people who haven't been seen for hundreds of years. Bodies are unearthed in a range of circumstances, from a medieval body found at a Scottish castle, to a heavily scarred Georgian woman discovered in a mass burial pit in London. None of the skeletons is famous; all are everyday people, whose extraordinary stories would have died with them if it weren't for Sue Black and her colleagues. With forensic science techniques such as carbon dating, bone chemical analysis and facial reconstruction, they find new layers of detail to add to our knowledge of Britain's past.

An apparently African skeleton, unearthed near a medieval English monastery, pushes Professor Sue Black's forensics team to its limits. Bone analysis offers clues about the true origins of the mysterious skeleton and facial reconstruction painstakingly reveals his face, not seen for centuries. The historical trail points to new evidence about British ancestry and the case takes an unexpected twist when they discover the tragic truth about how he died.

More episodes

See all episodes from History Cold Case
  • Photo: The Forensic Team

    Photo: The Forensic Team

    The forensic team at Dundee University: Doctor Wolfram Meier-Augenstein, Professor Sue Black (Head of Department), Doctor Caroline Wilkinson and Doctor Xanthe Mallett.

  • Photo: Sue and Xanthe

    Photo: Sue and Xanthe

    Professor Sue Black and Doctor Xanthe Mallett study a skull in the lab at Dundee University.


Sue Black
Xanthe Mallett
Caroline Wilkinson
Wolfram Meier-Augenstein
Neil Ferguson
Neil Ferguson


Buy online

Available on: Video download

From one supplier: iTunes

Where to buy

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.

Added. Check out your playlist Dismiss