Author Topic: King Arthur's Britain on BBC 2 tonight  (Read 537 times)

Holly

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King Arthur's Britain on BBC 2 tonight
« on: September 16, 2018, 08:53:21 PM »
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Mark G

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Re: King Arthur's Britain on BBC 2 tonight
« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2018, 07:35:21 AM »
I bet it won't be as much fun as battle of Britain model squadron.

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Re: King Arthur's Britain on BBC 2 tonight
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2018, 09:05:19 AM »
Quote
I bet it won't be as much fun as battle of Britain model squadron.

It wasn't.

It was OK, if you buy into the whole 'history is bunk and only archaeology can reveal the truth' thing; the truth in this case being that all this talk of Anglo Saxon invasions is nonsense, as there is no archaeological evidence of large scale conflict along the Anglo Saxon - Romano Briton front line. So the fact that all the area south and east of the front line is heavily settled by people living in Anglo Saxon style houses and wearing Anglo Saxon style jewellery is not evidence of invasion, but of peaceful settlement, co-existence and mingling over several generations. Plus, DNA shows there were still Britons in the south and east, therefore they weren't all exterminated en masse, therefore no invasion. QED.

I was not wholly won over by this argument.
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Jim Webster

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Re: King Arthur's Britain on BBC 2 tonight
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2018, 12:49:25 PM »
Quote
I bet it won't be as much fun as battle of Britain model squadron.

It wasn't.

It was OK, if you buy into the whole 'history is bunk and only archaeology can reveal the truth' thing; the truth in this case being that all this talk of Anglo Saxon invasions is nonsense, as there is no archaeological evidence of large scale conflict along the Anglo Saxon - Romano Briton front line. So the fact that all the area south and east of the front line is heavily settled by people living in Anglo Saxon style houses and wearing Anglo Saxon style jewellery is not evidence of invasion, but of peaceful settlement, co-existence and mingling over several generations. Plus, DNA shows there were still Britons in the south and east, therefore they weren't all exterminated en masse, therefore no invasion. QED.

I was not wholly won over by this argument.

It does strike me that the evidence is perfectly capable of supporting the idea that there was an 'invasion' in that small, elite, warrior warbands moved in and displaced the local elites. For the great mass of the people, nothing much changed, except fashion and you needed to speak a bit of one of the Germanic dialects rather than Latin  8)

Unfortunately the evidence is perfectly capable of supporting several other ideas equally well  ::)
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aligern

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Re: King Arthur's Britain on BBC 2 tonight
« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2018, 01:15:08 PM »
The weakness of the elite emulation theory is the lack of Welsh words in Anglo Saxon . Whilst I buy into the idea that discriminatory laws and second class citizenship can effect a conversion of nationality over time and that nationality is a choice, I cannot see that there would be sufficient critical mass of immigrants to effect a conversion unless there was population movement that involved displacement. Nor will I happily cede that the destructive arrival of the A/S described by Gildas, by Nennius, by Bede , by Continental sources is all invention. Archaeology in this period is hampered by the lack of goods and , but it is clear that the parts of the country where the A/S are settled have different goods from the Celtic parts.
There was an archaeological program recently referencing some finds in Lewes Sussex. The keleton of what looked like a battle casualty was initially dated around 1066, then later recalibrated to the Battle of Lewes. Archaeology is useful, but it is too politicised and too unsure to give the levels of certainty that people look for.
Roy
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Jim Webster

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Re: King Arthur's Britain on BBC 2 tonight
« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2018, 01:32:43 PM »
The weakness of the elite emulation theory is the lack of Welsh words in Anglo Saxon . Whilst I buy into the idea that discriminatory laws and second class citizenship can effect a conversion of nationality over time and that nationality is a choice, I cannot see that there would be sufficient critical mass of immigrants to effect a conversion unless there was population movement that involved displacement. Nor will I happily cede that the destructive arrival of the A/S described by Gildas, by Nennius, by Bede , by Continental sources is all invention. Archaeology in this period is hampered by the lack of goods and , but it is clear that the parts of the country where the A/S are settled have different goods from the Celtic parts.
There was an archaeological program recently referencing some finds in Lewes Sussex. The keleton of what looked like a battle casualty was initially dated around 1066, then later recalibrated to the Battle of Lewes. Archaeology is useful, but it is too politicised and too unsure to give the levels of certainty that people look for.
Roy

There are any number of weaknesses. One problem was how much welsh was spoken in the East of England by the fourth/fifth centuries anyway?

Jim
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Holly

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Re: King Arthur's Britain on BBC 2 tonight
« Reply #6 on: September 17, 2018, 04:23:00 PM »
The language issue with placenames can be correlated with highland and lowland or militiarised and non militarised, latinised and non-latinised areas. If Latin was the language of choice both spoken and written in (for want of a better expression) 'England' with several lesser dialects/languages in use beneath especially (potentially) Germanic with foederati settlements then it could be explained. 'Wales' and 'Scotland' may not have used Latin very much beyond the army with Celtic dialects more prominent.

Just one theory :-)
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Re: King Arthur's Britain on BBC 2 tonight
« Reply #7 on: September 17, 2018, 04:30:52 PM »
I had two major  problems with the programme
Firstly , if t was meant to be an historical critique of the Arthur myth it should have started with Nennius and explained how Arthur was originally used as a hero figure  for ninth century Britons . All the Geoffrey of Monmouth section was rubbish without an explanation if his sources, real and imagined. If they wanted  to explore if there was was anything behind the myth then its history must be confronted. If  there was a genuine 50 year hiatus in the A/S advance then why? Who led it? Was there a Vortigern? Or equivalent post Roman leader. Were Hengist and Horsa, sorry A/S foederati invited in? Was there a foederate rebellion?  There is a case for Arthur in the Britons appealing to Rome, finding no help would come and then coping by building a milutary structure. . What about the British migration to Brittany...never mentioned. Why did they feel the need to move away? If the A/S were not in great  numbers and not  warlike then why are the English not speaking Welsh, or a Romance language if we follow Jim's line.  Why is Tintagel important? why is elite Britishness confined to the far West? Why are the A/S not  Christianised early on by the Britons whom they lived amongst. Why are towns abandoned ? Why in the East if England is there no British elite. After all they did have elites. We would expect to see them intermarrying and holding on to some sort of structured existence.
My second problem is with the genetic evidence. AFAIK the results if tests on populations show that there is a substantial amount if Germanic DNA in the East of England. This was shown as a homogenous sea of red, but then we were told that these represented mixed popukations whereas all the ither cour groupings reoresented isolated unmixed groups...Yer What?? as one might say. Why are theses eastern popukations mixed and with whom...Oh, they are mixed with Anglo Saxon incomers. Hiwever,bthe presenters slyly skated over the point, If the A/S arrived in the East and eapstablished strong settlements they could then have a westward moving frontier which gradually incorporated more and more of the British, having driven away the British elite from each area as they advance. That gives a history of brutal displacement of the better off of whom Gildas speaks and relates too, he is after a a Latin scholar,  yet incorporates British DNA, however, it need never or seldom, be a case of a small A/S elite over a large British population. After all it takes Wessex 300 years  to get to Cornwall. Again its not a simple East west divide as A/S groups move quite deeply into what was to become Mercia quite early on.
Their idea of a battle line across England was a thoroughly bad one, a straw man for them to knock down. We know where many of the battles are reputed to be, and even where we have a likely site finding any ohysical remains is extremely unlikely. We have a good idea where Hastings was, but  virtually no archaeologically sigificant finds........there were most likely 5,000 or more bodies...we have not got one. Are there grave pits  for Stamford bridge?  Hence we are not going to see evidence of battles on the putative frontier...though there are those dikes.
If someone wants to look at the evidence for A/S versus British conflict there are a couple of good books on dikes in Britain in the Dark Ages, one by Jim Storr, ' King Arthur's Wars' the other by Erik Grigg, 'Warfare Raiding and Defence'.  Both explain how the Dark Age inhabitants of Britain invested a lot of effort in dikes to control raiding and how the digging of dikes plotted the moving frontier as the Angles and Saxons pushed back  the British and took more  and more territory from the Britons.

Some interesting stuff, but once again a programme  in which smug archaelogists overreached themselves with conclusions cooked up in advance .
Roy
« Last Edit: September 17, 2018, 04:42:44 PM by aligern »
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Holly

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Re: King Arthur's Britain on BBC 2 tonight
« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2018, 06:31:09 PM »
The problem I have with any programme is that they are simply too short to explore anything in great detail or engage in debate. Also they are never entirely 'cutting edge' in detail, evidence or theory. I suspect programmes like this will be wheeled out every now and again
  • Dave Hollin

aligern

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Re: King Arthur's Britain on BBC 2 tonight
« Reply #9 on: September 17, 2018, 07:21:08 PM »
yes Dave it’s part of the trope that if you want to sell a history book mention Caesar, Hitler, Bapoleon or King Arthur. It’s all about branding.
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Holly

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Re: King Arthur's Britain on BBC 2 tonight
« Reply #10 on: September 17, 2018, 07:29:59 PM »
agreed. "Magic" names to attract people's interest......

as my nan would say, 'all fur coat and no knickers'
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Mark G

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Re: King Arthur's Britain on BBC 2 tonight
« Reply #11 on: September 18, 2018, 08:50:59 AM »
By contrast, the bbc iplayer should still have a thing on the good old days, available.

Ian hislop (better recognized from a panel comedy show), deconstructing popular notions of "our" history.

The first one went straight for Arthur and unfavorably compared romantic notions of him with the actual king and cake burner.

Interesting stuff about the period pressures that produced a rise in interest in one and a loss of interest in the other.

Plus lots of footage of reenactors.

Anyway, headline summary, another thing to blame on the Tudors.

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Re: King Arthur's Britain on BBC 2 tonight
« Reply #12 on: September 18, 2018, 09:26:39 AM »
Agreed with most of the above, though I suspect it's not so mch smug archaeologists - the archaeologists themselves are likely to be much more well informed and sensible than the programme made them look - out of context quotes can do terrible things.

I think the problem is with the style of TV documentary making. Firstly they have to be about Nazis, Tudors, Egypt or Arthur - no other periods of history are available, Then they have to have some Great Revelation - now it can be revealed, for the first time, astonishing new story of whatever. All in a 60 minute programme of which at least 30 minutes are taken up with animations, re-enactments and long atmospheric shots of the presenter staring into the distance while the wind whips their hair (I'm talking about you, Neil Oliver). All this with actual historical content which is generally way below (waaay below) that found in a typical Ladybird book. If they didn't go for the (made up) Big Story and just quietly presented the current best state of knowledge, they would be better. No doubt they think if they did this they wouldn't attract a large audience, but I wonder if they attract a large audience anyway? I suspect it may be worst of both worlds.
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Re: King Arthur's Britain on BBC 2 tonight
« Reply #13 on: September 18, 2018, 12:45:02 PM »

The first one went straight for Arthur and unfavorably compared romantic notions of him with the actual king and cake burner.


Read 1066 and All That for the importance of distinguishing Arthur from Alfred...
  • John Graham-Leigh

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Re: King Arthur's Britain on BBC 2 tonight
« Reply #14 on: September 19, 2018, 09:19:17 AM »
I think part of the problem was the need to use the talismanic Arthur to hook viewers.  The BBC do some reasonable news round ups of recent archaeological finds presented by Alice Roberts.  Someone thought lets scoop up all the 5th-6th century ones and call it Arthur's Britain.  Tag in a bit of DNA stuff and away we go. 


I have no problem with debunking myth shows but they only work if they don't leave an alternative myth.  We've read the books, looked at the archaeology and have concluded its all much more complicated than it seems. 


One thing I did find interesting is even with new information, we stillhave this highland/lowland "boundary" which seems to persist from the Romans.  A Highland Celtic Zone and a Lowland Roman zone?  The migrants mainly settling and eventually controlling the Roman zone but meeting greater resistance pushing into the Celtic zone?  A Roman zone where Low Latin was the common language - plenty of Latin loan words in Old English?  Anyway, we've discussed it all in far more detail elsewhere. 
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