Digging For Britain on BBC Two

Great Britain might be a small island but it has a huge history and, every year, hundreds of excavations bring lost treasures up to the surface. Presented by Dr Alice Roberts (Coast and The Incredible Human Journey), Digging For Britain joins these remarkable historical excavations in a landmark new history series.

Following a year of archaeology around the country, the series will reveal and contextualise some of the newest finds, research and social history, bringing to life some of the mysteries of Britain’s past.

From uncovering new truths about the first humans to inhabit Britain to uncovering Shakespeare’s first theatre, the series will focus on the Roman, Prehistoric, Saxon and Tudor eras.

In the first episode of the series, Dr Alice Roberts follows the disturbing story of the Hambleden infanticide and the discovery of 97 murdered babies buried beneath a field in Buckinghamshire. The original excavation made by Alfred Heneage Cocks in 1912 is well documented, but until the recent re-discovery of more than 300 boxes of meticulously kept artefacts, the physical remains themselves were believed to have been lost.

This has allowed skeletal biologist Dr Simon Mays and Dr Jill Eyers the surprising opportunity to examine the remains and piece together the mystery of Yewden Villa. Alice joins them as they piece together their findings and explore the theory that the infanticide was the result of a roman brothel.

Alice is also on the trail of one of the biggest roman coin hoards ever to be found in Britain. In April 2010, metal detectorist Dave Crisp made the discovery of a lifetime when he uncovered more than 52,000 coins dating from the 3rd century AD in a field near Frome, Somerset.

Following the three-day excavation, Dr Roger Bland and Sam Moorhead, both Roman coin experts, spent nine weeks working tirelessly to sort the hoard, identifying the coins at a rate of 5,500 per week. Alice hears their theories on the treasure trove being a votive offering to the gods, never intended to be recovered from the ground; perhaps evidence of Britons continuing ancient worship rituals, despite their Roman overlords.

The programme also investigates the mystery of a man buried face down on a bed of meat in rural Dorset and the extensive excavation project at the Fort of Vindolanda.

Thursday 19 August
9.00-10.00pm BBC TWO