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Uncovering the secrets of Birmingham’s past

Birmingham School of Art features in brand new BBC Two docu-series exploring a major archaeological dig on the city’s HS2 site.

A BBC episode featuring programme presenter and historian Dr Yasmin Khan reviewing 19th century newspaper reports about the Park Street area, filmed at the School’s library in October 2019, was broadcasted on Tuesday 29 September which explored the discoveries found in Britain’s largest-ever archaeological programme.

For three years, HS2 archaeologists have been giving TV documentary-makers Lion TV exclusive access to the archaeological sites being excavated as part of the HS2 project. Before any track is laid, over 1,000 archaeologists across more than 60 sites in between London and the West Midlands have been carefully uncovering the secrets of Britain’s past.

The documentary explored the phenomenon of body snatchers in Georgian London and give insights into the lives of people living and working in Birmingham during a period of great expansion and change.

Mike Court, HS2’s Lead Archaeologist said: “The documentary is one of the ways we are sharing our findings including the story of two cities, Birmingham and London, where we excavated burial grounds, learning about the people who lived, worked and died there at a time of industrial growth and city expansion.” 

BBC’s Commissioning Editor, Simon Young added:  "This partnership with HS2 has opened an extraordinary window into our recent past that is usually the realm of history books, rather than archaeological excavations. The resulting series is a unique hybrid - marrying the physical evidence with written sources to create a vivid understanding of what life was really like in Georgian London and Industrial Revolution Birmingham. It's fitting that such a hi-tech engineering project is also advancing our understanding of Britain's history."

Want to find out more, watch the full episode on iPlayer here