Searching for a documentary.
October 18, 2018 6:48 PM   Subscribe

Dearest MeFites, I have been searching for a documentary I saw on TV some years ago that I am hoping our hive mind might help me track down. It was about historical re-enactors in or around York, England. They had a small village in which they portrayed villagers in the Viking era. The documentary showed various technologies being employed: blacksmithing, woodworking, animal husbandry, textile crafts and so on, as people carried out their period-appropriate lifestyles. Can you point me to it?

Alternately, I’d be interested in any similar documentaries depicting re-enactment of life and explication of technology from, say, late Bronze Age up to about year AD 800. Note: I’m not just looking for historical shows or documentaries, but especially interested in modern efforts to re-enact life and technology in a village setting during those eras. Think Manor House or Frontier House or Pioneer Quest, only set in the year AD 500. Thank you for your help!
posted by darkstar to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Having trouble getting it to load, but here is a description of Ep2 Britain's Most Historic Towns: Viking York : "In this unique take on British history, Professor Alice Roberts explores Britain's rich and varied past through the stories of individual towns and cities. In each programme Alice studies one key period in history by delving into the secrets of a historic town that encapsulate the era, providing an accurate impression of what life was really like at key moments in our turbulent past. At the climax of each programme, cutting-edge CGI reveals the entire historic town in all its former glory. In episode 2 Alice tells the story of Viking England by studying the history of York, Britain's most Viking city. She takes part in a Viking battle, meets the metal detectorists behind one of the UK's greatest archaeological finds and gets her hands on an almost 1000-year-old Viking poo."
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:57 PM on October 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Wow that was fast! I can’t get that one to load either, but it sounds close to the sort of thing I’m looking for. I’m especially interested in re-enactments, but the CGI depictions would be nice to see.

It’s too recent (April of this year) to be the one I recall, but I’ll try to find a way to access it. Thank you!
posted by darkstar at 7:05 PM on October 18, 2018

Is it the BBC Historical Farm series?
posted by 2soxy4mypuppet at 7:06 PM on October 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Maybe from Channel 4, here?
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:09 PM on October 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Those look fantastic, 2soxy! They all cover eras rather later than the Viking period of the one I recall, but I’m definitely putting them on the list with the one MT suggested above. Thanks!
posted by darkstar at 7:11 PM on October 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Could it be this or this from the Jorkvik Viking Centre?
posted by Jane the Brown at 8:01 PM on October 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

I've seen it too but I think it was on Hulu several years ago when I went on a BBC reality history series binge. I think it was Surviving the Iron Age. Can't find it online for you.
posted by Miko at 9:05 PM on October 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

Was also going to suggest Surviving the Iron Age, though it's not Viking. There was a tie-in book. There are a couple of reviews here and here.

Another Iron Age suggestion - Living in the Past.

You might enjoy the book I Believe In Yesterday: A 2000 year Tour through the Filth and Fury of Living History: My Adventures in Living History by Tim Moore.
posted by paduasoy at 2:35 PM on October 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

Right...not Viking, but I think you could easily remember it as Viking. I sort of did.
posted by Miko at 3:15 PM on October 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Excellent suggestions, all!

It’s not the Jorvik Center, but Jane’s comment reminded me of how much I enjoyed visiting it back in ‘06!

Surviving the Iron Age sounds better than what I remember, frankly. The one I saw was only an hour long. I’d love to watch a 12-hour series. I’ll keep it on the list and see if I can track it down.

I just watched both parts of the Living in the Past documentary on YouTube. I wish there was more of it.

It did, however, lead me to watching this excellent 5-video series by Thijs van de Manneker on building a bloomers furnace, roasting and smelting iron from big ore, and then forging the iron into a spearhead, which is just awesome to behold.

I watched a lot of the British Time Team series and loved watching how they would sonetimes recreate the techniques, crafts, etc. of the eras they were unearthing.

Thanks again for all the good suggestions!
posted by darkstar at 5:42 PM on October 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

Could it be Time Crashers? (Sorry on phone)
It was a series, but one episode focused on a similar theme.
posted by whowearsthepants at 6:02 PM on October 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Er... “bloomery” furnace and “bog ore”.
posted by darkstar at 6:19 PM on October 19, 2018

Response by poster: Was just checking out Time Crashers episodes. Wasn’t that series, but I’m definitely going to watch them - thanks!
posted by darkstar at 8:32 AM on October 20, 2018

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