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Professor Howard Williams’ expertise features on the programme, which first aired at 8pm on Easter Sunday. The programme explores new discoveries and insights into the Great Heathen Army, which invaded and conquered Mercia in 873 to 874.

It’s Professor Williams’ second time on national television within the last six months – having previously discussed the 8th-century Mercian linear earthwork, Offa’s Dyke, on BBC Four’s Beyond the Walls: In Search of the Celts programme last December.

Professor Williams explains more: “Excavations around the church and vicarage garden at Repton, Derbyshire, from the mid-‘70s to the late ‘80s, found truly amazing traces of the Viking army’s winter camp – artefacts, furnished weapon graves, indications of the deliberate destruction of Christian monuments, and a defensive enclosure incorporating the church itself. Most intriguingly, to the west of the church, there was a discovery of, what some people argue, were the bones of those in the army, buried as charnel in a reused two-celled chapel. The archaeologists at the time – Martin Biddle and Birth Kjølbye-Biddle - speculated that the bones were packed around the burial of one of the leaders of the Great Heathen Army: Ivar the Boneless. Close by, at Heath Wood, Ingleby, Britain’s only Viking-period cremation cemetery has been excavated at various times since the 19th Century, and might also relate to the Viking army’s presence.”

Professor Williams added: “Together, this evidence sheds light on a truly transformative time that led to the birth of England. The death rituals and burial evidence tell this story. New work by Dr Cat Jarman from Bristol University is shedding further light on the burial evidence, particularly through her revaluation of the human remains. This particular programme focuses on this research but also on her attempts to find new sites in the vicinity linked to the Great Heathen Army.”

The programme will also air on PBS in May, as part of the channel’s NOVA strand (and renamed ‘Lost Viking Army’). The Channel 4 programme, Britain’s Viking Graveyard, can be viewed on the Channel 4 website

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