Medieval London

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Episode 1 of 3

Duration: 1 hour

Historian Dan Snow gets down and dirty in Medieval grime to discover the hard way how the London we know was forged in the filth of the 14th century.

State of the art CGI reveals London's streets as they were 700 years ago and Dan steps into the shoes of a medieval Londoner - wooden platforms designed to help him rise above the disgusting mess underfoot. He spends the night as a medieval muck-raker shifting a staggering six tonnes of excrement, and has a go at medieval butchery to find out what the authorities were up against.

Plus, he examines the remains of a plague victim to discover how a catastrophic epidemic would help a new and cleaner London emerge from the muck of the past.

More episodes

See all episodes from Filthy Cities
  • Filthy Cities Scratch and Sniff on Red button

    If you have a scratch and sniff card, and a strong stomach, you can still watch the red button scratch and sniff clips from episode one Medieval London and episode two Revolutionary Paris here.

    Watch the scratch and sniff clips
  • Filming at Crossness Sewage Works

    Filming at Crossness Sewage Works

    Thankfully Dan thought better of trying to find out what would happen if he turned this tap...

  • A wheelbarrow full of offal

    A wheelbarrow full of offal

    Dan looks surprisingly cheerful, and manages to make pushing a wheelbarrow full of offal around the streets of central London look almost normal

  • And when the wheelbarrow gets a flat tyre...

    And when the wheelbarrow gets a flat tyre...

    ... Get the presenter to fix it! Dan rescues the shoot after an unexpected ‘technical problem’

  • Dan gets a dose of Medieval medicine

    Dan gets a dose of Medieval medicine

    It doesn't look too bad now, but it's not long before the leech on Dan's arm more than doubles in size as it fills up on his blood...

  • Feeling a little under the weather?

    Feeling a little under the weather?

    One of our actors comes down with a touch of bubonic plague. We are pleased to report that he made a full recovery later that same day.

  • Dirty work

    Dirty work

    Dan gets stuck into shovelling 6 tonnes of manure off the streets... In one night.

  • Medieval butchery

    Medieval butchery

    Dan has a butchery lesson - Medieval style. And it’s hard, filthy work.

  • BBC News Magazine - The Assize of Nuisance

    BBC News Magazine - The Assize of Nuisance

    Take a look at this article from the BBC News Magazine to find out more about the Assize of Nuissance - a record of filthy Medieval complaints.

    An Asbo in 14th Century Britain
  • Filthy Cities: My summer in the sewers

    Filthy Cities: My summer in the sewers

    "Perhaps my most important realisation was simply the debt that we owe the people who get rid of our waste and ensure we have clean water."

    Read and comment on Dan's post on the BBC TV blog

Credits

Presenter
Dan Snow
Presenter
Dan Snow
Executive Producer
Eamon Hardy
Executive Producer
Eamon Hardy

Broadcasts

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