Winchester historian helps to bring the past to life on popular TV drama

16 Mar 2017

​​​An expert in medieval history at the University of Winchester has helped to weave historical accuracy in to the new series of hit BBC TV drama The Last Kingdom, which returns to our screens tonight for a much anticipated second series.

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Dr Ryan Lavelle​, Reader in Early Medieval History (pictured left), was invited by producers Carnival Films (Downton AbbeyThe Hollow Crown) to be an historical advisor on both series of the critically-acclaimed drama. 
 
During the making of the new series, he gave advice on a diverse range of subjects, from the composition of the court and politics and everyday life in Anglo-Saxon England, to marriage traditions, costumes and head coverings. He also worked with set designers to help ensure authenticity. 
 
Set in Ninth Century England, The Last Kingdom is an epic adaptation of English author Bernard Cornwell's best-selling historical novels series The Saxon Stories. With the Danes invading the north of the country, only King Alfred's kingdom of Wessex in the south remained defiant. The drama follows warrior Uhtred as he seeks to avenge Earl Ragnar's and recapture his ancestral lands of Bebbanburg.
 
"I have really enjoyed providing historical background detail and notes for the scriptwriter and the production team on The Last Kingdom. The first series was not only popular with viewers but earned some great reviews, which has made the experience even more rewarding," said Dr Lavelle.
 
"Popular dramas such as this, which bring history vividly to life in people's homes, are a fantastic gateway to inspire viewers about the past and encourage them to want to explore it for themselves."
 
The University of Winchester has been at the forefront of Anglo-Saxon research - shedding light on this period and the final resting place of King Alfred. In 2014, the University and Hyde900 discovered a pelvic bone thought to belong to Alfred the Great, or his eldest son.
 
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The first episode of The Last Kingdom is broadcast at 9pm on Thursday 16 March on BBC Two.
 
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