In Search of the Dark Ages (1981): S02E02 – In Search of Eric Bloodaxe


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 seeks evidence of a lost Chronicle of Eric Haraldsson, the last Norse king of Northumbria. Starting in Howden Minster, he retraces events in multicultural Jórvík and the Church of St Mary, noting the role of Arch-bishop Wulfstan. Wood assembles the scattered citations and references to the lost work, then follows the trail to the crypt of Ripon Cathedral, the “rescue” of the relics of St Wilfrid by Eadred in 948, and the ambush at Castleford. With the threat of reprisals, Bloodaxe is forced into exile and obscurity, until his sudden return and reinstatement in 952. At the Gosforth Cross, he ponders the mingling of Christian and Norse mythologies, and Bloodaxe’s baptism at St Cuthbert’s. He ends at the Battle of Stainmore and the failing of Northumbrian independence.

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: 26 March 1981.
  • Running time: 35-45minutes.
  • Rating: Unknown.
  • Country: UK.
  • Language: English.

Video Link(s)

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