Michael Wood uncovers the history of Kibworth's first 1000 years, with a Roman villa, Anglo-Saxons, Vikings and evidence of life on the eve of the Norman Conquest.
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This is the story of one place through the whole of English history.
Even little Kibworth had it's Norman castle.
It's a statement of intent, isn't it?
This is what you've really come to see.
To tell the tale we'll be using medieval manuscripts,
letters, diaries, photos, and the latest science.
That timber and all the other timbers in that range are probably felled in 1385.
But our biggest help will come from the villagers themselves...
..reading the texts of their ancestors, digging pits, and doing surveys of their medieval fields.
-The other side of the hedge.
-No, it wasn't!
I done that earlier.
And for once, this is not the tale of the rulers.
Of course, you can always tell history through the stories of King and Queens
but it's only when you look at it through the lives of the ordinary people,
and see how our society has developed over time,
how our rights and duties have evolved, and how waves of newcomers
have shaped and changed us, that you begin to understand who we really are.
"I go out at day-break and drive the oxen.
"It's hard work because I am not free."
"1349, John Church, Reeve.
"The following tenants died of the pestilence.
"Emma Cook, Alice Arran, John Church Snr,
"Agnes Polle, Robert Polle..."
"I was born on March 12, 1783.
"I had no education, for instead of school I was set to lace making."
"I expect that you have heard that our regiment has been in a big fight.
"The enemy's trench taken at bayonet point but Lance Corporal Fisher was killed."
-Did you know you had family here?
-So that's him.
-Yeah, must be.
"The History and Antiquities of the County of Leicestershire."
It's written in the 1780s and '90s.
And here, the first detailed account of Kibworth.
"In ancient writing's called Chiburde, is situated on the great turnpike road from London,
"nine miles distant from Leicester and five from Harborough, the nearest market town.
"It consists of three hamlets, Kibworth Beauchamp, or Lower Kibworth,
"Kibworth Harcourt, Upper Kibworth,
"and Smeeton Westerby, now considered as one hamlet although actually two distinct villages.
"The church, dedicated to St Wilfrid,
"pleasantly situated on a considerable eminence amid a group of trees."
Now, if that makes Kibworth sound like a bit of an idyll,
of course it's not.
It's a real place in today's Britain, the kind of place most of us live in now.
It's got housing estates, Chinese and Indian take-aways, and traffic!
But like every place, it carries the marks of history.
This was the main London road in the 18th century.
And the fancy pizzeria, the Boboli, was one of the coaching inns.
There were seven or eight of them just along this street.
Bricked up coaching entrance there.
They sold more than food and drink, some of them.
It's the same anywhere in England, you only have to look, and the stories leap out.
That's my aunt Annie.
And with a little help you can begin to piece together the picture.
There'd been a telephone exchange here at sometime.
You can watch the great events of the nation through local eyes.
And see how our ancestors really lived.
There's no way that William Herrick is going to be looking after his house,
that's what you people are for.
And whether you're reading the village newspaper from the Second World War...
"Christmas greetings, happy family reunions.
"Good luck and success in Civvy Street."
..Or the treasure trove of medieval manuscripts in the school box.
The first two boxes, the early stuff, is here.
And the really oldest material, we're going back to the 1350s.
Our ancestors will always surprise us.
We're not just talking about one literate man every 20 miles,
they're all over the place.
And they're writing and they're writing!
But why choose Kibworth?
Kibworth is right in the centre of the country and from the 1200s
it's got the most wonderful set of documents
that enable you to tell the story of ordinary peoples' lives.
But it doesn't stop then.
In the industrial revolution, it's got canals and railways and framework knitting and factories.
In other words, in this one place
you can tell the whole story of the nation.
The search began one summer Saturday morning.
In answer to our advert on local radio,
250 villagers gathered at the village hall to help us search for their past.
First they were going to dig more than 50 archaeological test pits across the village.
And they had to do it professionally, supervised by the experts.
This is going to be a brilliant weekend. It's fantastic to see so many people.
The record booklet is effectively, it's this thing here,
it's a pro forma recording system.
You'll be digging your test pit, which is a metre square, in a series of 10cm slices.
Each of those 10cm slices we call a context.
Good luck, have fun.
Now, like most places in England,
Kibworth is only recorded for the first time in 1086, in Domesday Book.
Before then, its history is a blank.
So what could archaeology tell us about its beginnings?
That was our first task.
This is part of the old medieval village of Harcourt here.
This whole three villages at the moment is complete darkness really,
in terms of what we know about physically what's there,
what really was going on. If we can do 50 test pits that just throws the lights on.
It's knockout, isn't it? We've got phenomenal documents for this bit, not bad for that.
The Home Guard used to practise here, and there were some unspent bullets just around this area.
I'm hoping to find something good.
Tape measure just there, darling.
-Yes, it must have been bigger originally.
-You're doing great.
That's a bit of clay pipe, for example, so again this ordinary Victorian,
early 20th century household. They're the precursors to cigarettes.
We found shoe heels and belt buckles and stuff.
We keep on finding rocks.
We found some pieces of pot!
That's the tibia from a sheep.
At the start, our clues were just broken bits of pottery,
but it's amazing what an expert can get out of them.
What we've actually got is pretty much every major pottery type
-going back to about 1450.
Earliest bit we've got is that, which is Midland Purple, that's about 1400, 1450.
It could be as early as 1350, it's one of those types
we haven't got nailed down, but it's certainly post-Black Death.
This place has been occupied certainly since 1400 I'd say, and maybe even 1350
because you've got this, which dates to about 1470, 1500.
That, which is about 1580, 1600.
That's about 1680 to 1700, that's 1720 to 1750.
And then you've got the 19th century stuff as well. So, bang, full house!
So, a 650-year run of pottery in these trays.
'And then one piece got us all excited.'
Very nice. Let me just dry it off.
If that's what I think that is....
It's a piece of really, really beaten up Samian ware, 1st or 2nd century.
-I cannot believe it!
-So that's Roman.
'By the afternoon, we'd got more Roman.'
Lots of cobbles and we found some teeth, three teeth in the other layers.
-And some Roman pottery.
-Yeah, Roman pottery - two pieces.
-So did you dig those up yourself?
-So, has it been fun?
-Yeah, it's been amazing, really fab.
I've never seen these two concentrate so much in our lives.
Cor, gosh, it's all beautifully bagged.
That is great, 4th century maybe?
So it was only the first day and we already had Roman, Iron Age,
Beaker people, and prehistoric flints.
-So, how's it been, Richard?
-I've kind of lost the will to live, to be honest with you.
Yeah, that's natural clay with iron pan in it.
You'll be delighted to know you can stop.
But, of course, serious archaeologists just put the kettle on.
Back in the Coach and Horses that first day,
we already knew that people had lived in the village for thousands of years.
Absolutely fantastic, the more you know about the village,
the more you find out about the village, the more intriguing it gets.
You don't realise the heritage that a village like Harcourt or Beauchamp has.
I had no interest in any of this before you all came so it's been really...
a revelation, hasn't it, I think to all of us.
The bit I liked was the little bit of flint we had, the little chipping.
And I just imagined the little stone-age man sitting on top of our hill
just chipping away and looking at a similar view.
But a village is more than bricks and pot sherds, it's a living community.
And we know from Domesday Book that Kibworth was already a community in 1086.
So how did that happen?
How far back does Kibworth really go?
Was it a village under the Romans?
After all, Leicester nearby was an important Roman city.
To try to find out more, I went back to the first archaeologists.
Back in the 1700s, there were discoveries made in Kibworth,
a horde of Roman coins, and even a Roman inscription lost long ago.
Just have a look at this.
Here's the Ordnance Survey map from the 1880s, which actually marks one of these discoveries.
Here's Kibworth Harcourt and in the 1810s,
and then in the 1850s,
on this mound in the middle of the village, behind the allotments,
the Munt, fragments of Roman pottery were discovered.
And you see they're actually marked by the Ordnance Survey here.
And they also at the same time dug a derelict medieval windmill mound
on the edge of the village and found more Roman pottery.
And close by there in the late 1960s,
a coin of the Emperor Constantine was discovered from the 330s along with fragments of Roman roof tiles.
So had there been some large Roman building in that area?
If we're going to search for a Roman predecessor to Kibworth
then my guess would be that's where you should look.
And who better to help us than the local experts,
a group from neighbouring Hallaton
who are specialists in detecting what lies beneath the soil.
ELECTRONIC BEEPING This is a magnetometer.
What it specialises in doing is detecting changes in the earth's magnetism
caused by the presence of buried archaeological remains.
Where this technique is at it's best really is at identifying things like
the presence of ditches and gullies, pits, wells.
But more often than not it's the individual plots within which buildings may be found.
I'd brought with me an account from a local journal of finds made here in Victorian times.
"1863, large bell-shaped barrow surrounded by a ditch north-west of the village, east of the road.
"Opened early in the last century...", which is early 1800s,
"..and again in 1863 - fragments of bone, Samian pottery,
"a layer of black soil, ashes, pieces of burnt wood, pieces of Roman pottery and a pavement."
-So there is a Roman villa or building site somewhere here, isn't there?
All sorts of clues.
Oh, that's pretty good, let's process that one a bit more.
Oh, it's fabulous, here's our 60m wide, 200m long strip
and there in the top left-hand corner is the mill mound, clear as a whistle.
And coming down at the bottom part,
a whole series of rectangular enclosures,
classic ditches that we see on a Roman farm or a Roman villa.
Well, this afternoon we clearly need to do another strip about 20m wide down this end
so that we can get the rest of the mill mound
and the south-western corner of our Roman settlement.
Then we're going to extend as far across this field to the north
to see what else we can find.
We did this field, picked up about 13, 14 bits of Iron Age pottery, which is quite a lot,
and there were these rib bones which were definitely human at the time.
They turned out to be pig bones later on!
But those pig bones led the Hallaton Group
to the greatest Iron Age treasure ever found in Britain.
In 2000, they unearthed bowls, bracelets, ingots and thousands of coins.
The Hallaton Treasure.
It was buried near Kibworth at a shrine of the ancient British people
who lived in this area, the Corieltauvi.
The coins even name some of their kings, Vepo and Volisios and Dumnocoveros,
who ruled here on the eve of the Roman conquest in the 1st century.
Over the next few days, fitted in at weekends or after work,
the Hallaton Group mapped the whole villa.
It turned out to have been laid out
over a settlement of circular huts of the ancient Britons
not long after the Roman conquest.
You could never have imagined in your wildest dreams
that here in this field, we'd turn up a huge Roman villa
with all it's ancillary buildings and courtyards
and evidence of life back in the Iron Age and the Bronze Age.
It's a whole new beginning to the story of Kibworth.
So there had been a community here, even before the Romans, which had continued under Roman rule.
The finds at the villa now focused our attention on the mysterious mound in the middle of the village,
known locally as The Munt.
There are old stories that it was a Roman burial mound.
And now we know there was a Roman villa nearby, could that be true?
Could it even be the tomb of one of those kings of the Corieltauvi
who became a local landowner under the Romans?
There's lots of local legends about the Munt.
Some people say it was from the time of the ancient Britons or Vikings or that it was a Norman castle mound.
But in the 1860s there was an excavation here
that dug a trench into the mound and 9ft down found the remain of a burial chamber,
stone-lined, with bone and ash, and an iron lampstand and fragments of pottery.
So Kibworth was a Roman settlement
and maybe the Munt was the tomb of a British chief
living there under Roman rule.
We'd found Roman pottery through Harcourt and Beauchamp, down to Smeeton Westerby.
And it's easy to see why the Romans chose to live here.
It's a wonderful little enclave.
When you walk along the main street of Kibworth Beauchamp,
you'd never suspect that this lies here.
A lot of people don't know it's here.
There was good soil, and above all, good water.
I think there's about 20 wells just in Harcourt, along this low ridge.
Yes, quite a lot down this road too.
Where the double gates are, there's a well there, that holds a lot of water I understand.
The pump used to work.
It would work again if I had it primed but I haven't had it primed for several years now.
When I was a little girl they used to pump up twice a day,
the two chaps that worked here, Huckleby and Grewcock were their names.
So that's why the Romans liked it here.
"How lucky are you are, you Britons," wrote one Roman poet.
"More blessed than any other land,
"endowed by nature with every benefit of soil and climate.
"Your winters are not too cold, your summers are not too hot.
"And to make life even more pleasant...
"..your days are long and your nights short, so while to an Italian,
"the sun may appear to go down, in Britain it just seems to go past!"
Lino opened Kibworth's first Italian restaurant, at least, since the 4th century!
We took it on three years ago and Italianised it.
The Boboli Gardens in Kibworth, not Florence.
It's great, with the Munt behind you.
But civilisations decline and fall.
Around 400AD, the Roman Empire went into decline. There were many reasons.
Costly foreign wars, food crises, greedy bankers, climate change...
In 410, the Romans pulled their garrisons out of Britain
and soon all the achievements of Roman civilisation had gone.
It must have seemed scarcely believable - all these great achievements of Roman civilisation,
the theatres, the civic buildings, the bathhouse, all of them falling into ruin.
So Britannia went back to basics.
In history, it's always surprising how swiftly the veneer of civilisation can be lost,
how knowledge is forgotten.
Maybe this is what will happen when the petrol runs out?
The elites go, and with them the know-how.
In technology we won't match the Romans again until the 18th century.
So the villas are abandoned, murals crumble,
mosaics break up,
and with them, a whole view of the world.
The original people, of course, remain.
They're still the basis of our DNA today.
But now we start to hear of newcomers, economic migrants,
more and more of them inviting their countrymen and women from across the North Sea in Germany and Denmark.
They are the Anglo-Saxons.
This is one of the routes those early Anglo-Saxon migrants took into the heart of England.
And it's an Anglo-Saxon landscape.
There's an Anglo-Saxon cemetery up on that hill above us.
It's called Knave's Hill, from the Anglo-Saxon word "knaffe", meaning "young man" or a "young warrior".
And even better is this little stream here
which flows down from Kibworth area into the River Welland.
It's called the Langton Caudle today, the cold well, or the cold spring.
But it's got an older name.
It used to be called the Lipping,
and over in Schleswig on the German-Danish border, there's still a river called the Lipping,
in the region called Angeln, the very place where the Angels, the early English, came from.
Isn't that wonderful?
What you guys need to be doing, you just need to get this broken up,
sorted through as quickly as possible.
And back in the Big Dig in Kibworth, amazingly the regulars at the Coach and Horses
found their traces underneath the car park.
Unless I'm very much mistaken, and I don't think I am, that's a bit of early Saxon pottery.
Now we're talking 5th, 6th century, 7th maybe, something like that.
So it's the first bit of Pagan period Saxon I've seen from the entire dig from all the test pits.
That is a piece of an Anglo-Saxon bone comb.
-Around 500 maybe?
-Yeah, give or take.
A little bit earlier or later, but that's pre-700.
From the Coach and Horses car park, who would have believed it?
A most incredible...
It's amazing how such a tiny piece can be so evocative
in terms of, well, our imaginings about the early people of Kibworth.
An Anglo-Saxon comb from maybe around the year 500.
The newcomers were a minority.
Around them most people still spoke Welsh.
In fact, we can only trace the new migrants by their grave goods,
their burial urns, their bone combs, like the one we found.
But one of them was buried close to Kibworth.
We know that she was in her very early twenties at latest because of the way that the bones are fused.
There's one last bone on your big toe that fuses when you're 21 or 22
and that hadn't happened yet.
So we know pretty precisely how old she was.
Well-built, about five foot six inches tall.
And what part of society do you think she came from?
She came from the top of society, I mean she was found in 1866
but we haven't found a better-furnished grave.
And not only are there are a lot of things with her but they are exotic things.
You've got the glass beaker at the top there, that's probably come from the Rhineland.
The early Saxons had similar sort of beliefs to the Vikings, they believed in the feasting halls of the Gods,
which you went to after you died.
And like all well-brought up people she takes a bottle with her
when she's going to a party, particularly one that's going to last for eternity.
And tell us about the jewellery, these very perfectly-preserved pieces.
They look as if they were made yesterday.
These are essentially glorified safety pins, they hold her dress together.
One of them on each shoulder.
She was wearing a tube dress, so just basically a tube of cloth
that's held up here on the shoulders with these two big safety pins.
And then on the back of one of these brooches there is a woollen thread tied around the spring,
which almost certainly is the cord for this swag of beads
that went round here from brooch to brooch.
That's the way that Anglo-Saxons wore their beads, not round the neck,
so you saw all of them, none of them were hidden round the back.
And, of course, at the centre of that is a bear claw,
these are lucky charms which ward off the evil eye.
-And here, very interesting, these little pieces lined and notched pattern.
Roman women wore actual keys on their belt to show that they were in charge of the household.
Anglo-Saxon women, although sometimes you find functional keys, wear these stylised ones.
They seem to give the same message without opening a door.
So it suggests that even though she was relatively young was in charge of a household.
She was probably first or second generation Anglo-Saxon settler.
Whether she is an Anglo-Saxon ethnically is another story entirely.
All of those sites that had Romans on them at the end of the Roman period have Anglo-Saxon pottery on them,
in 500, or whenever that pottery is coming in.
My guess is that they are the very same people who, in some cases,
whose family were there as Iron Age people before the Romans got there,
and have gone all the way through and then re-emerge as Anglo-Saxons
when that is the way that the wind is blowing.
One straw in the wind, and it is only a tiny little straw, is this Roman bead.
I like to think that maybe that was her grandmother's bead that she wears.
All these Anglo-Saxon beads and one Roman just to maybe think about that side of her family.
Those first Anglo-Saxons were pagans,
barbarians, as the Romans saw them -
scratching their runes, weaving their spells.
They worshipped the gods of Storm and Forest, Woden and Thunor, at the Holy Oak near Kibworth.
But then, towards 600, back in Rome, Pope Gregory sent Christian missionaries
to bring the lost province of Britain back into the fold of civilisation.
Just as the heartland of Christianity
was about to fall to Arab armies bearing the new faith of Islam,
Roman missionaries went West, to seek new converts for Christ among the northern barbarians.
One day, the Pope was walking through a slave market in Rome and he saw a group of slaves
who were fair-skinned, blond-haired and blue-eyed and he asked who they were.
And the answer was "Anglisun", they're Angles, English.
The Pope though was so taken by their appearance that he answered,
"Non Anglisun sed Angeli", they're not Angles, they're angels.
The English loved this story, it almost made them into a kind of chosen people.
The gens Anglorum, the race of the Angles, the English people!
And ever since, although it was the Saxons who created the Kingdom of England,
we weren't Saxonish, we were English.
So, in the 7th and 8th centuries, the people of Kibworth became part of the Christian Kingdom of Mercia.
This is a completely unknown period in the village story.
But in the Big Dig we found one tantalising clue.
OK, so, test pit 41, you've got here. This is Smeeton.
Yes, this is really quite sensational.
Oh, dear, I've had too much of this sensation already today.
It's a nice assortment of late 11th into early 12th century.
But we've got one bit of earlier pottery mixed in with that.
This rather grotty and quite dull looking grey sherd is the missing piece of the jigsaw.
It's Middle Saxon, Ipswich ware, which dates to between about 720 and 850.
Well, that's very interesting.
I don't think we've got any of that.
And neither's anybody else in Leicestershire.
It's the first site anywhere in Leicestershire that's produced this particular type of pottery.
If you take Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire,
there's three sites that have produced it.
It's usually a sign of either high status or two major route ways meeting.
I've never seen any from Leicestershire. It wasn't the pots themselves that were being traded,
it was mainly their contents, probably salt, it's been tied in with the salt trade.
-Oh, really? So salt to the king's table in this?
-Quite possibly, yeah.
-Now the date you're saying is between the 720s and 850s.
-About that, yeah.
So this is right at the moment when the famous kings of Mercia, like Offa who built his dyke,
and Ethelbald, they're staying in royal residences all around Kibworth,
in Gumley and Glen and these places.
That's the sort of thing you'd expect to find at a royal sentry in this part of the world.
It makes you want to know more about Cybba,
whoever he, or was it a she, was, the person who gave their name to this place.
Like all English villages, Kibworth carries its history in its name.
Harcourt and Beauchamp for example, come from the Norman Lords after 1066,
but the name Kibworth itself is much older.
When did Kibworth become Kibworth?
Well, as with most English towns and villages, the clues lie in the place name and in the landscape.
In the later Middle Ages, Kibworth was surrounded by a defensive ditch and hedge
to keep out outlaws and bandits at night.
Now the name Kibworth means "Cybba's worth", the ditched enclosure of a man called Cybba.
And place names like that start in the 730s in English documents, around the time of Paul's pottery.
And the name Cybba, sounds suspiciously like the names
you find in the Mercian royal family, Pybbe, Cnebba, and Tybba.
My guess would be, and it is just a guess, that Cybba was a minor Mercian royal, who received this
very nice piece of real estate from one of the Mercian kings,
Offa or Ethelbald, surrounded it with a ditch, and it's borne his name ever since.
And what was life like for our 8th century ancestors?
Don't imagine a typical English village
with a winding lane and thatched cottages.
Kibworth was a scatter of peasant houses.
An Anglo-Saxon village from this time has been excavated
at Stow in East Anglia and rebuilt on its footings.
Here you can imagine the lives of our villagers.
And it was a subsistence life, of a kind you can still see today in many poor parts of the world.
I've stayed in villages like this in Amazonia, Peru, the Hindu Kush and Africa over the years,
and this is just the same.
This is the way that ordinary people, peasant people
have lived through most of human history.
And it's the way that our English ancestors lived for much of our history too.
Those modern ideas about privacy and possessions, you know, bedrooms, your own room,
stuff like that, it didn't even begin to come in until Elizabethan times,
and, for most of us, a lot later than that.
Maybe that's why all this gives you that little shiver of recognition.
'It's so hard for us to imagine, isn't it?
'We have so much leisure time today in our multi-channel world with its short attention span.'
I must say, it's like watching people do a kind of Zen meditation.
It's really interesting, isn't it?
It's very relaxing.
But for them, every key task took time.
I'm spinning straight from the unwashed fleece, straight from the sheep.
I take a piece of fleece,
which I tease out.
I take it in my left hand, slightly scrunched up.
Tease a small bit round, and the very fact that it's still got all the oils in, helps to make it stick.
As you twist the drop weight,
the twist runs up the wool
and then joins together, like magic.
You thread the wool through the wooden tablets, or they might be horn,
and put the colour in according to how you want the pattern.
Stretch it on a frame,
and then you turn the whole block of tablets in one direction.
And you get quite a nice satisfying crunch as it comes round,
and it brings a different set of threads to the top.
Weaving was an English art.
The great ruler in Europe, Charlemagne, wrote to Offa, the King of Mercia,
asking for fine English cloth, made in places like Kibworth.
Bread was the staple basically and that was what you filled yourself up on.
Anything you can catch - birds, fish, that sort of thing, the deer if you could hunt deer.
In November, you've got the blood month
when you kill all your livestock for the winter.
You would have eaten a lot of meat.
By the 8th century, Welsh was dying out in Midland England, replaced everywhere by Old English,
which we still speak today, give or take a few foreign borrowings.
Even now our key words for relationships and emotions are theirs -
father, mother, brother, sister, love, hate, life, death.
I suppose the language is the most important single thing, isn't it?
Yeah, it's the single key that unlocks their whole mindset,
isn't it, and we carry it with us today of course.
"One small step for man, one great leap for mankind,"
those are all Anglo-Saxon words.
You would think that all this stuff would have been excluded long ago
and we would have moved on to far grander terms, but no,
the Anglo-Saxon stuff, the English stuff, is still here.
It's very, very rare to find the ordinary people speaking,
but there is this wonderful dialogue from around the year 1000,
-which is an interview with an Anglo-Saxon ploughman.
And it begins, "What sayest thou, earthling!"
Earthling! That's kind of thing I've had from Star Trek. Earthling!
An Earthling is a person who deals with the earth.
A person who deals with the earth, fabulous.
"How bi-goest thou work thine?"
"How do you go about your work? Tell us about your work."
So what does he say?
He says, "O lo, lief Lord, thraly I derve..."
"Lo, Dear Lord, how hard I must work."
THEY READ IN OLD ENGLISH
Sounds like a big job, tough work, to me.
-Sounds like hard work to me.
-Oh, absolutely, a great deal of work.
-And he says...
-HE SPEAKS IN OLD ENGLISH
"Yes Lord, it is a great deal of work because I am not free."
Is that pottery or stones?
-Been a bit hard digging then, has it?
'In the late 9th century came the next big change in the village story, the Vikings.
'Now in the Big Dig no-one expected to find the Vikings,
'although we did find pottery from their time in Smeeton Westerby,
'the last bit of whose name is Viking.'
Ah, the Buddha of archaeology seated there in contemplation! Gosh, so what have we got?
Most of this stuff is Victorian, it's all 19th century.
We've got this background scatter of late 17th and 18th mixed in it
but nothing earlier, until I came across that.
Now that is a bit of Stamford ware.
'This is BBC Radio Leicester.'
But the key clues came from the surnames of some of today's villagers and from their DNA.
'If you are an Iliffe, you may well be a Viking.
'Will you text me? Because there's a DNA test going on.'
I'm there, that's my father.
And it goes right back through to Charles Henry,
then George Thomas.
George Thomas, who's my great grandfather, and his father is John,
and you go back to William, Richard, and John Iliffe,
who apparently originated from Fleckney.
Terry Iliffe's surname name appears around Kibworth from the 1300s.
It's from a Viking name, Eilifr.
My great great grandfather's niece gave it to me before she passed away.
So this is a valuation list.
Value of properties, houses...
'Wayne Coleman's family have been in Kibworth at least since Tudor times.
'And his name could be Viking too.'
And here, Coleman, John Henry Coleman.
I've gone back to 1692, the connection in the village.
But Wayne's connection with the area could be much further back than he thinks.
I've just looked at these markers known as Y-STR markers
and essentially that stands for "short tandem repeat".
So it will put you into a broad group of Y-chromosome type.
And yours seems to fall into a broad group known as R1a.
Now that's actually found across all of the north of Europe so I'd need to do further typing
to find out where your Y-chromosome type seems to be found.
But when we see that type in England, we start to think Norway, we start to think Norse,
because it's the type that has high frequency in Norway.
We know that these Y chromosome types arrived in this country through the invasion of the Norse Vikings.
You can get a hat now!
And the story of how Wayne and Terry's ancestors came to Kibworth
starts with a sensational archaeological dig made 30 years ago
not far north of Kibworth, at Repton in Derbyshire.
So, great view from up here of the landscape of Repton.
This is going to be the site of trench eight.
And we're in the vicarage garden by the invitation indeed of the vicar.
The site is where the tree is here, which I planted.
There's still a faint mark in the grass along in front, just where we're crossing now.
There was also a trench
all the way down the edge of the churchyard there.
Under here there was a two-chamber Saxon building.
And the eastern chamber had been used as an ossuary.
They found 250 male skeletons, many with wounds, and 50 Anglo-Saxon women camp followers,
casualties from the Viking great army, which had terrorised England.
This is where the Viking great army, came in that winter of 873-4.
And they built their camp on this spot, dug a huge defensive fortification
anchored at both ends on the river, with the church here in the middle of the defences.
What Martin Biddle and his team had found was the ceremonial burial of a Viking leader,
probably the famously cruel king called, believe it or not, Ivar the Boneless.
But then, in 877, according to the Anglo-Saxon chronicle,
the Viking great army changed their tactics.
They settled down, shared out the land and began to plough.
England was partitioned by treaty.
To the south, the English King Alfred the Great,
to the north, what became known as the Danelaw.
And it's that split that gave the north and the east their distinctive dialects and place names till today.
Blaston, that's named after Blad the Blade from the Great Army.
Slawston, that's Slagger the Sly.
And Illston on the Hill, that's named after Eilifr, maybe Terry Iliffe's ancestor.
There's certainly plenty of evidence that the Anglo-Saxon women preferred the Vikings
because they took a bath more often than the Anglo-Saxon men.
But I also think there's plenty of evidence that some Vikings sent home
to bring the wife as many immigrants do today in fact.
Once they have that control then other people can come from Scandinavia
who may not have been soldiers or military people at all,
they could have been families, they could have been immigrants with wives and children,
coming into an area that was controlled by members of their own.
And there's plenty of evidence in the region
of Vikings moving in onto the less desirable land, these would be the later immigrants, I think.
There are place names near Kibworth which suggest "the thorny place", "the bushy place".
There's one that I think says "the fringe place'.
And even better, there's one with "a thin coating of grass", as if it were a rather miserable place.
So that might suggest that the Vikings who moved there are really accepting second-rate land.
Places don't necessarily change their names just because other people move in.
In the area around Kibworth, something like 82% of place names are Old English origin.
But if you look at the names,
there's lots of evidence that Scandinavian language was spoken there.
Kibworth found itself on the wrong side of the partition line but it stayed English.
The Vikings didn't go in for ethnic cleansing, they settled and mixed,
and soon the languages and place names mingled.
Now if you want to see what it was like on the ground when the Vikings
settled here, just come to the back end of Kibworth at Smeeton Westerby.
There, you that posh house there, the red brick, that's Smeeton, English for "smith's tun".
But if you just go a few yards along the ridge, those houses there through the trees, that's Westerby
Westerby, the Viking for "the western farm".
Some Viking warriors settled there after the army disbanded in 877 and made a new life.
And all round the landscape there's this wonderful mix of English names and Viking names.
This, for example, is the Fleet,
that's Viking, fleot, for a little stream.
This area is, what else, but a kar,
Viking speech for a boggy area covered with brushwood.
And all around us in the fields there are tofts, that's little farm.
And even better over there, there's Crackley.
Now the "-ley" part of that name is Anglo-Saxon, it means a wood, but the "Crack"
is Viking, kraka, meaning a raven.
So by a thousand years ago, the basic map of the village is already complete.
Viking Westerby, English Smeeton, the two halves of Kibworth,
a mix of English and Vikings
with the deep DNA of the Celts, the Roman-Britons.
In the 10th century, Kibworth became part of a kingdom of all England,
with a king who mainly spent his time down in London or Windsor.
So we started this search knowing nothing about the village before 1066,
but thanks to the villagers we found a whole new history.
And by the side of the A6, we even found traces of Kibworth's last Anglo-Saxon lord.
I was sat at home, opened the bag, emptied it onto the desk
and my chin hit the desk not long after the pottery.
I really felt that we'd wasted everybody's time,
not much interest there at all.
Quite the reverse.
Elfrich, the Thane of Kibworth.
This in four contexts, so you're talking about a 40cm thick layer.
Oh, that came from all different contexts?
Context five, six, seven and eight, and it's all late Saxon.
Isn't that amazing? It really is.
This type is called St Neots ware,
it's the earliest late-Saxon pottery you get in this part of the world.
Now your test pit was the only test pit in the village to produce St Neots ware.
Nobody else produced any St Neots ware at all.
So that instantly makes it a candidate for early late-Saxon settlement.
St Neots ware starts around 900.
Stamford ware comes in - which is the next late Saxon pottery type - around 950, 975.
We've got one or two bits of Stamford ware, this is the Stamford ware.
-That looks a bit posher.
I remember when that was dug up we thought, "That is definitely part of a pot, not just a stone."
That sticks us in the second half of the 10th century.
The clincher is these two rim sherds from the St Neots ware pots.
I don't know if you can see those, but the shape of those, they're from a particular type
of cooking pot, known as cylindrical jars but we call them top hat pots.
Imagine a top hat turned upside down, that's exactly what it looks like -
straight sides and more or less straight across the bottom.
Some of these have been used for cooking,
can you see all the soot still stuck to the rim? It's where the pots been sat on the fire.
We thought it was the soil that had affected it.
The pot's been on the fire, the smoke's come up and it's sooted all along the rim.
That's part of a base of a pot, it's got
this thick black and white residue on the inside, can you see that?
That's actually the burnt remains of the last meal that was cooked in the pot.
-That's Anglo-Saxon food, or the carbonised remains of it.
We've got very early Stamford ware, top hat pots, it's got to date to around 950 to 975. It's remarkable.
I shall keep my eyes open now when I'm digging.
Well, now the boring document historian speaks.
And this is my... and it changes every time Paul sends an email, you know,
I got this email about three days ago saying, "I think we've hit the jackpot with hole number two!"
And that's why we're here.
But here's the village.
The peasants' tenements there maybe.
And this side, maybe the lord's field.
Now right in the middle of that, and that's that pink spot there, is here, is this.
And in fact when we get on to 1066, I can tell you who may well have lived on this spot,
because his name was Elfrich in 1066.
And we can tell you who Elfrich's father was, he was called Meried,
which is quite an unusual Anglo-Saxon name. You pick it up in the 1030s.
So you're touching the Anglo-Saxon predecessors in Kibworth Harcourt.
As this is the only place where we've found St Neots ware,
I don't think it's unreasonable to say that this is where it all started after the Vikings were sorted out.
It's mind-boggling really when you think about it in context.
So basically we're going to have to dig up your entire garden!
There's a final chapter in this first part of the story.
England was a rich prize and, in October 1066, the Normans won it at the Battle of Hastings.
And ever after the English have wanted to replay the match,
hoping there'll be a different result this time.
People still cheer more for the Saxons than for the Normans.
And they know we're going to lose, but they still cheer, they still want us to win!
Maybe Kibworth men went down to fight with their Lord Elfrich,
stood in the shield wall and fell there with the flower of the English nation.
The end of the world as we know it.
Nothing was familiar any more and we were, the language, was oppressed.
Our way of live was oppressed for such a long time.
-Just to let you know that the car park will close shortly
as indeed the gates will be also.
What does it feel like to suddenly have this new world coming on top of you?
It's the end of the world.
-It's not a new world, it's the finish.
-The end of the world?
The end of the world. It's a disaster. It was finished.
A new England did emerge.
It did, because we were resilient.
And I think that's just so wonderful.
October 14th 1066 was a catastrophe for the English people,
"a havoc of our dear nation", as a chronicler said.
And, of course, the English people never forgot it.
So how did the villagers respond to this disaster of conquest
and war and brutal foreign occupation?
How did it shape them and change them?
How did they become us?
"Use this space for your conclusions
"about how well you test pit excavation went."
So ancient Britons and Romans, Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, those are our roots.
If we could just find one.
'But that's just the beginning.
'Next in the Story of England, the Normans, the open fields, the English pub.'
How are you?
We feel neglected.
'And the voice of the ordinary English people.'
It's quite hard work.
One, two, three...cheese!
A very, very big thanks to you all.
It's really been great.
All looking this way, thank you.
Groundbreaking series in which Michael Wood tells the story of one place throughout the whole of English history. The village is Kibworth in Leicestershire in the heart of England - a place that lived through the Black Death, the Civil War and the Industrial Revolution and was even bombed in World War Two.
With the help of the local people and using archaeology, landscape, language and DNA, Michael uncovers the lost history of the first thousand years of the village, featuring a Roman villa, Anglo-Saxons and Vikings and graphic evidence of life on the eve of the Norman Conquest.