I am delighted to announce ‘Digging Up Britain’s Past’, a new archaeology-based series coming to Channel 5 in January. In it, myself and co-presenter Helen Skelton will be exploring some of the fascinating archaeological stories from Britain’s past. Our journey takes us through the neolithic landscapes of Stonehenge, to sites of witchcraft in the seventeenth century. We follow in the footsteps of Henry VIII’s infamous spending spree and examine the impact Viking invasions had on life in early medieval Britain. Forensic analysis of the medieval peasantry will see us explore the skeletal and dendrochonological (tree ring) evidence for major climatic events in the fourteenth century whilst Helen gets up close and personal with the outlaw’s most trusted weapon – the long bow – in a bid to explore the truths behind the legend of Robin Hood. We had a great time making this series as we travelled up and down the length of the British Isles in search of the archaeological evidence for some of the most fascinating periods in Britain’s past. I do hope you can join us!
I’ve been hugely inspired by the work of American authors on craft – Richard Sennett, Peter Korn, Matthew Crawford, Howard Risatti, to name but a few. I am therefore thrilled to be entering into the debate in the US about the importance and value of craft in everyday life.
Mine is an exploration into the rich time-depth of many of our crafts, charting their origins back through the medieval and ancient past. Woven into these narratives are the stories of my own experiences, those working as an archaeologist, as a small-holder as well as those cherished memories I have of working on a range of BBC history programmes – Victorian Farm, Edwardian Farm and Wartime Farm.
But I like to think that I arrive at some of the same conclusions as the great craft-theorists: Crafting defines us. We are makers. It’s healthy. We are at our best when we are making, from natural materials, to a standard, for use, and with care and compassion.
Cræft: How Traditional Crafts are About More Than Just Making
“In a period of meaningless mass manufacturing, our growing appetite for hand-made objects, artisan food, and craft beverages reveals our deep cravings for tradition and quality. But there was a time when craft meant something very different; the Old English word cræft possessed an almost indefinable sense of knowledge, wisdom, and power.
In this fascinating book, historian and popular broadcaster Alex Langlands goes in search of the mysterious lost meaning of cræft. Through a vibrant series of mini-histories, told with his trademark energy and charm, Langlands resurrects the ancient craftspeople who fused exquisite skill with back-breaking labour-and passionately defends the renewed importance of cræft today.”