In Search of the Dark Ages (1981): S02E04 – In Search of William the Conqueror


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 reflects on the effect of cross-channel invasions and their impact on history. He suggests that the Norman Conquest is the arguably most famous event in British history and also the most controversial. Beginning his search in Normandy, he traces the early life of William, as a bastard then a Duke, and of the Normans as Vikings and then knights. Wood interviews curator Michel de Boüard who describes William as the daring single-minded political genius of his time. After securing his duchy, through familial ties, he was drawn into England’s succession crisis. Woods examines the Bayeux Tapestry then travels to the battlefields at Stamford Bridge and Hastings. As the Normans forged their hold on England by building motte-and-bailey castles everywhere, the Anglo-Saxon era came to an end. In the Public Record Office in London, Wood consults the Domesday Book with a lament at the passing of the chief makers of England.

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

Video Link(s)

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