Thursday, 13 April 2017

The Archaeology of Doctor Who 3

I'm a big fan of Dr Who (did I mention that before?) and, as the new series is about to air on the BBC (the last to feature Peter Capaldi as Doctor 12/13/1st of the second phase/indeterminate - delete as applicable) I am beginning to wonder whether show runner Steven Moffat has taken a peek at my own private Who-related wish list.

I have, of course, had this feeling before.

The series 5 finale (in 2005, rather than the season 5 finale in 1968) The Pandorica Opens / The Big Bang, for example, was set almost entirely within one of my favourite examples of prehistoric architecture: Stonehenge 

Not only that, of course, but it also featured [spoiler alert] Cybermen, Daleks and the trowel-bothering, gun-toting, banana-wielding exo-archaeologist Professor River Song

It also had, quite inexplicably, Roman legionaries

Lots and lots of Roman legionaries

and, OK so the legionaries all turned out to be [Spoiler Alert] Nestene Duplicates (rather than Autons - no, me neither), but the combination of Romans and Stonehenge made this particular lecturer in Prehistoric and Roman archaeology a very (very) happy man. So happy, in fact, that I think I'll say that again: Roman soldiers AND Stonehenge.


Even better, just like myself, the good Doctor and his chums immediately went mucking around in the ground around the sarsens. OK, so my particular 'mucking around' was part of a properly managed archaeological research programme (rather than a search for an extraterrestrial thingymabob), but I did feel a strange kind of kinship

- it being about as close as I'll ever get to sharing the same experiences as the good Doctor. What particularly made me sit up and take notice (even more than I was already) was when Team-Who found a secret way down into the ground within Stonehenge. 

At this point I remember thinking 'that looks very familiar...' and in a way it was, my very own 'photo from the trenches' appearing as a cover image on Current Archaeology magazine a few months previously.

Perhaps, I wondered, if only we'd dug a bit deeper at the site, we too could have found and opened the Pandorica (although I suspect we wouldn't have made such a good job of the overall recording).

Reading this week's Radio Times (other TV listing magazines are available) detailing the upcoming 2017 series 

I see that [Spoiler Alert] episode 10, entitled "The Eaters of Light" (by Rona Munro) is described in the following terms:

"A long time ago, the Roman legion of the ninth vanished into the mists of Scotland. Bill has a theory about what happened, and the Doctor has a time machine. But when they arrive in ancient Aberdeenshire, what they find is a far greater threat than any army. In a cairn, on a hillside, is a doorway leading to the end of the world"

Do excuse me, I think I need to lie down in a darkened room for around 10 weeks....see you in June.

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