The Origins of the North
Melvyn Bragg begins his story of the North of England, from the fall of Rome through to the rise of the glorious kingdom of Northumbria.
In this 10-part series Melvyn Bragg brings all his passion and knowledge to a subject that has enthralled and fascinated him throughout his life - the pivotal role of England's North in the shaping of modern Britain. As he traces the ebb and flow of Northern power he examines how this relatively small geographical area has had a profound effect of every part of the globe - its ideas and inventions, sport and music.
Melvyn Bragg begins the series atop Hadrian's Wall looking down onto the North of England. Programme One begins as the Roman Empire loses it grip on the area. Melvyn returns to the seaside town of Maryport in Cumbria - which he visited as a boy - and which displays an extensive collection of Roman military altar stones. Melvyn travels to Lindisfarne or Holy Island off the coast of Northumbria which became a crucial centre for the spread of Christianity coming from the west - and was to play no small part in shaping the fortunes of Northumbria and its Anglian royal family. Melvyn goes to Whitby in North Yorkshire - home of the great Abbey and its remarkable Abbess St Hilda and discusses the power well-born women could wield in the early church. He discusses the Northumbrian King Ecgfrith, one of the most powerful men of his day, who laid the basis for what was to be one of the great Renaissance moments in western civilisation. Professor Nick Higham's biography 'Ecgfrith' (Paul Watkins Publishing) recounts how he was killed in a battle against the Picts in Scotland. Melvyn asks what might have happened if Ecgfrith had won - the answer is that Scotland as we know it today may have never existed and the capital of Britain could well have been in the North, possibly in York.
Professor Nick Higham, University of Manchester
Professor Ian Haynes, Newcastle University
Professor Katy Cubitt, University of York
Producer: Faith Lawrence.
You are at the first episode
Melvyn Bragg and Ian Haynes, Professor of Archaeology
Maryport, near the site of the old Roman Fort and Senhouse Museum
Katy Cubitt, Professor of Early Medieval History
Benedictine abbey ruins at Whitby, built close to the original 7th century abbey site