History GCSE: What happened when Vesuvius erupted in 79AD?

A detailed description of the eruption of Vesuvius on 24th and 25th August 79 AD which killed the inhabitants of Pompeii and Herculaneum.

The description is based on recent conclusions from new evidence studied by scientists and historians.

The cause of the eruption is explained (a build-up of pressure) and the massive scale of the resulting cloud of ash and pumice is described.

As parts of this cloud collapsed under their own weight, this caused repeated pyroclastic currents of increasing force, which eventually engulfed the two towns, causing instant death.

This clip is from the series Pompeii: The Mystery of the People Frozen in Time.

Teacher Notes

This could be used as an introduction to a detailed case study about Vesuvius.

Pupils could look at the scientific evidence that has been unearthed and compare this to what was originally thought?

They could produce a piece of work showing the differences that were discovered and how this changed how we view the eruption of Vesuvius.

Curriculum Notes

This clip will be relevant for teaching GCSE History. Appears in Edexcel, AQA, WJEC KS4/GCSE in England and Wales, CCEA GCSE in Northern Ireland and SQA National 5 in Scotland.

More from Pompeii: The Mystery of the People Frozen in Time

What happened at Herculaneum, the town not far from Pompeii?
How did the victims of Pompeii die?
Why weren't the clothes of the Pompeii victims destroyed by the heat of a pyroclastic current?
How were the casts of the victims of Pompeii made?
Can science reveal what two of the victims of Vesuvius actually looked like?