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This is a series about an artistic era that’s looked down on. Waldemar Januszczak, The Dark Ages: An Age of Light I: The Clash of the Gods, BBC 2012
For the first few centuries of Christianity there were no Christian images. ibid.
The first churches were ordinary houses. ibid.
The Visigoths … were pioneering Europeans who produced beautiful art. Waldemar Januszczak, The Dark Ages: An Age of Light II: What the Barbarians Did For Us
We’ve got the Dark Ages wrong – again. ibid.
Islamic star-gazers perfected the Astrolabe in the Dark Ages. Waldemar Januszczak, The Dark Ages: An Age of Light III: The Wonder of Islam
Jerusalem – the heart of the religious Dark Ages ... Herod’s temple was made entirely from white marble. ibid.
The Dome of the Rock – this whole building is taking on Christianity. ibid.
The hardcore determination of the Lindisfarne monks shows not only in the miraculous building in their great monastery but also in the stunning book art they made up here. So intricate. So detailed. So difficult. Waldemar Januszczak, The Dark Ages: An Age of Light IV: The Men of the North
It’s the carving of these boats and carts and sledges that makes this particular Viking find so exciting. ibid.
The Sutton Hoo treasure – this is the finest hoard of Anglo Saxon gold ever dug up in Britain. ibid.
Those powerful Dark Age creatives – the Carolingians, rulers of the Franks. ibid.
Christianity arrived in Britain from three directions at once, in a three-pronged religious assault. ibid.
A treasure made of granite and limestone … the Anglo-Saxon funeral cross. ibid.
The Dark Ages – they weren’t dark. ibid.
A strong society with a unique and lasting culture. The Roman colonisation was supposed to have erased the ancient Britons ... But I don’t believe our ancient culture was overwhelmed as easy as that. Dr Francis Pryor, Britain AD: King Arthur’s Britain I, Channel 4 2004
Far from a dark age this was a time of huge creativity and development. ibid.
Arthur is the ultimate commodity, a ready-made hero who has been hijacked by history. ibid.
Archaeologists are starting to radically rethink the Roman invasion of Britain. ibid.
Pre-Roman Britain was in fact a collection of often feudal tribal kingdoms. ibid.
Britain turned its back on Rome and turned to an independent future. ibid.
With the departure of the Roman troops historians imagined the end of history, and from their empty pages we have conjured a desolate wasteland … We call this the Dark Ages. In actual fact, sophisticated societies developed in Britain in the Dark Ages. Dr Francis Pryor, Britain AD: King Arthur’s Britain II
If he existed at all, rose to power in these troubled years … Was Arthur invented to make up for a lack of real history? ibid.
Dark Age Britain was a time of intellectual as well as economic advance. ibid.
There is no archaeological evidence for the Anglo-Saxon invasion. Francis Pryor, Britain AD: King Arthur’s Britain III
Sutton Hoo ... This was the grave of a very rich man. ibid.
I don’t believe there was a hole in British society. ibid.
This continuously occupied landscape; there were no gaps of occupation, no war cemeteries. ibid.
Bede, like all historians, had his own particular axe to grind ... Bede invented a new race of people, the Anglo-Saxons, who came to be known as the English. ibid.
The real people of Britain A.D. did not only survive an influx of foreign influences but actually flourished because of it. ibid.
The traditional view is that life in the Dark Ages was nasty, brutish and short. And it’s this idea that everyone lived in huts and hovels and really didn’t have much quality of life ... that’s so far from the truth. Janina Ramirez, Anglo-Saxon art historian
Summer 1939: A golden age of exploration and archaeology is coming to an end. It was an era that saw adventurers set out to explore the remotest corners of the globe in search of clues to unlock our ancient past. And it was during that last summer of peace as the world stood on the precipice of a war that threatened to end civilisation itself, that three extraordinary treasures were discovered, treasures that would radically change our understanding of the origins and diversity of human culture. And bring us closer to our distant past. Janina Ramirez, Raiders of the Lost Past I, BBC 2019
The discovery of an incredible Anglo-Saxon ship burial in Suffolk, dating from the early seventh century A.D. The final resting place of a supremely wealthy warrior king. ibid.
The single greatest archaeological discovery ever made in England: the Sutton-Hoo hoard. ibid.
Ship burials are incredibly rare in Britain: there are only two others ever discovered at this time. ibid.
Oserberg ship, Norway, excavated 1904-1905. ibid.
Treasures of unimaginable quality emerged thick and fast. ibid.
These Saxons and Angles came together and gave us the basis of the English language. ibid.
A pair of spectacular shoulder clasps. ibid.
The miraculous story of the hoard’s survival. ibid.
This was Page One of England’s history. ibid.
After the fall of ancient Rome before the rebirth ushered in by the Renaissance, centuries of history have long been neglected. These are the Dark Ages. When the Roman Empire crumbled, Europe was besieged by famine, plague, persecution and a constant state of war that was rarely interrupted by peace. The Dark Ages
24th August 410 A.D. The Empire falls: Rome for so long the most powerful place on Earth was invaded by a band of brutal thugs: they were the Visigoths. ibid.
In Rome, power and glory were rapidly being replaced by corpses and cannibalism. ibid.
The Mother of the World had been terminally ill for quite some time. ibid.
As early as the 3rd century A.D. the Empire had fallen into the hands of a series of inept Emperors whose obsession with personal gain threatened the welfare of their citizens and fostered civil war. During the 3rd century for a period of fifty years nearly all of the two dozen Emperors who seized power were brutally slain by rivals, rebels and subjects. ibid.
533 A.D. The Empire strikes back. More than a century after the sacking of Rome an army of self-proclaimed Romans marched from the Byzantine capital of Constantinople. ibid.
From the beginning of his reign in 527 Justinian had regarded Theodora as an equal shareholder in sovereignty. ibid.
Justinian – the eastern Emperor who harboured dreams of a reunited Roman empire. ibid.
An invisible killer was making its way towards Constantinople with enough ammunition to wipe out not just the city but the entire continent. That killer was bubonic plague. ibid.
When a final tally was made, up to half of the empire’s population – perhaps 100 million people – were struck down by the Plague of Justinian. ibid.
In 1095 Pope Urban II instigated the first Crusade by declaring Deus Vult, Latin for God wills it. Over the next two hundred years a total of nine brutal crusades devastated the Holy Land and its Muslim inhabitants. ibid.
The Crusades spawned a rebirth of trade and architecture unseen in Europe since the fall of Rome. ibid.
In the popular mind the Dark Ages are an empty void between the glory of Rome and the triumph of the Renaissance. But a closer look reveals a period characterised by chaos, uncertainty and the resilience of humanity. A time when new life emerged from the scorched earth of post-Roman Europe only to perish again amidst the perilous conditions of the age. If there was ever a time that tried men’s souls this was it. ibid.
Humanity itself did not yield. ibid.