In Search of the Dark Ages (1980): S01E03 – In Search of Arthur


In Search of the Dark Ages is a BBC television documentary series, written and presented by historian Michael Wood, first shown between 1979 and 1981.

It comprises eight short films across two series, each focusing on a particular character from the history of England prior to the Norman Conquest, a period popularly known as the Dark Ages. It is also the title of a book written by Wood to support the series, that was first published in 1981.


Wood begins his search for King Arthur at Glastonbury Abbey, where the fabricated mythology of medieval times flourished. Citing William of Malmesbury’s uncertainty, he travels to Portchester seeking traces of the Anglo-Saxon influx and the ebbing of Romano-British identity. At Wroxeter Roman City, Cirencester and Withington he finds evidence of the decline of organised urban life, and the expansion of rural life. The reoccupation of hillforts, such as Cadbury Castle, led to the successful indigenous defence at the Battle of Badon. At the British Library he consults the Harleian genealogies, but finds little that is reliable. Finally at Bremenium and Carlisle he finds hints that Arthur may have lived and died further north than legend states.

In Search of the Dark Ages Series

You can find a full overview and index of In Search of the Dark Ages here.

Production & Filming Details

  • Released Date: 12 March 1980.
  • Running time: 35-45minutes.
  • Rating: Unknown.
  • Country: UK.
  • Language: English.

Video Link(s)

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