Pocklington dig at centre of Iron Age TV programme

The 3-D image of how the Pocklington charioteer would have looked.
The 3-D image of how the Pocklington charioteer would have looked.

So now we know who the Lord of Pocklington was some 2,000 years ago!

The Digging for Britain archaeology programme, screened on BBC 4 on Wednesday 19 December, confirmed Pocklington’s new found position at the forefront of the latest thinking on Britain’s Iron Age history.

Popular academic and TV presenter Alice Roberts introduced a special documentary entitled the ‘Iron Age Revealed’, as the fourth and final episode of the current BBC series.

The programme showed recent evidence and investigations from Scotland, Wales, London, Leicester and Somerset. But Pocklington, and particularly the find of another “unprecedented” chariot burial down The Mile in the spring of 2018, was at the centre of the programme, featuring in half of the hour-long showing.

In the BBC studios in London, Prof Roberts invited site director Paula Ware, from MAP Archaeological Consultants, alongside archaeology lecturer and Iron Age expert Melanie Giles, to discuss further the significance of the Pocklington finds.

They started out looking at the initial Iron Age excavation at the David Wilson Homes site on Burnby Lane 2014-17 which included a notable and unusual discovery of a chariot, a vehicle described by Prof Roberts as “the Iron Age equivalent of a sports car and a tank at the same time”.

The studio discussion then moved on to the Mile investigations on the other side of town in 2018; which produced another chariot in advance of the Persimmon Homes development.

The Mile burial consisted of a unique chariot, intact and upright alongside its horses, with the charioteer laid in it on top of the remnants of an outstanding bronze shield, and with evidence that the burial was accompanied by a huge funerary feast.

Prof Roberts also invited into the studio another Iron Age expert, Dr Peter Halkon, the Holme on Spalding Moor farmer’s son who became an archaeology lecturer and has studied and investigated Iron Age East Yorkshire for decades.

MAP’s team of archaeologists uncovered considerable detailed evidence about the Pocklington charioteer to prove his status and wealth as an “important man, a leader or chieftan”.

But for me the highlight of the programme came at the end, after the 2,000-year old remains had been screened.

It was when Paula Ware revealed what ‘Lord Pocklington’ actually looked like.

She opened up her laptop to show how the latest 3-D photography and computer aided design had produced an image of the Pocklington charioteer – a grizzled but imperious individual who exudes an avuncular calm authority and power.

A remarkable insight into an unknown age, that thanks to recent archaeology from Pocklington is now becoming so much better understood.