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Nelson's Caribbean Hell-hole: An Eighteenth Century Navy Graveyard Uncovered

As archaeologists excavate a mass grave of British sailors, Sam Willis explores Antigua's ruins and sees how the Caribbean's sugar islands were a kind of hell in Nelson's time.

Human bones found on an idyllic beach in Antigua trigger an investigation by naval historian Sam Willis into one of the darkest chapters of Britain's imperial past. As archaeologists excavate a mass grave of British sailors, Willis explores Antigua's ruins and discovers how the sugar islands of the Caribbean were a kind of hell in the age of Nelson.

Sun, sea, war, tropical diseases and poisoned rum.

1 hour

Last on

Thu 26 Sep 2019 01:55

BBC Four Archaeology Season

BBC Four Archaeology Season

Nelson's Caribbean Hell-Hole is part of BBC Four’s season of programmes exploring our fascination with uncovering the past. Find out more about the other programmes in the season below…


Archaeology: A Secret History - Dr Richard Miles seeks out ancient treasures and explores our relationship with the past.


The Flying Archaeologist - Ben Robinson conducts aerial surveys of ancient sites to reveal new evidence of lost civilisations.


Stories from the Dark Earth: Meet the Ancestors Revisited - Julian Richards discovers how science, conservation and new finds have changed our understanding of history.

The Archaeology at the BBC Collection - Robin Lane Fox explores the BBC's first ventures into archaeology programming.

The Somme: Secret Tunnel Wars - Peter Barton investigates the military mining that played a big part in the tactics of both sides during WWI.

Find out more

Find out more

There are lots of features, articles and quizzes covering archaeology - and the treasures that have been uncovered - in BBC History’s Archaeology section.


Role Contributor
Presenter Sam Willis
Producer Rupert Edwards
Director Rupert Edwards
Executive Producer Tim Green
Executive Producer Delissa Needham