Dan Snow and archaeologist Raksha Dave investigate how the Black Death devastated Britain 700 years ago. This terrible plague killed around three million people across the country - 50% of the population.
Visiting outbreak hotspots and unearthing evidence from the time, Dan and Raksha explore its horrific spread month by month as it crippled the country. Alongside dramatic reconstructions of events, they witness the terrifying symptoms of the disease and experience the brutal methods used to try and cure it.
And, utilising the latest cutting-edge research, they reveal why the Black Death was and remains the deadliest pandemic in history. Episode 1: In June 1348, the most devastating disease in history arrived on Britain’s South coast from the continent. Dan Snow heads to ground zero in Melcombe Regis, Dorset.
From here, he begins to trace the spread of the plague that will wipe out half of the country’s population over the next two years. Dan heads to Wildwood animal Sanctuary in Kent to find out what brought the Black Death to Britain. Getting up close and personal with the super-spreading rats, he discovers how they introduced the bubonic plague here via Europe’s busy trade routes.
At The Old Operating Theatre in London, Raksha witnesses the horrific symptoms of this deadly disease and the terrifying outcome for those who fell victim to it. In Bristol, Dorset and London, Dan and Raksha begin to discover the terrifying death toll inflicted on cities, towns and villages as plague began to ravage the country.
At Nottingham University’s biomedical laboratories, Raksha is shown the deadly plague bacteria under the microscope. She discovers why the disease spread so fast and so furiously. She then explores the brutal tools that medieval doctors desperately used to try to cure the dying.
As they gather their evidence, it becomes clear that the Black Death killed indiscriminately throughout 1348: Dan discovers that no one was safe from Princess to pauper. He visits Canterbury Cathedral to find out how pilgrims desperately sought protection from the plague.
In central London, Raksha investigates the recent discovery of mass graves beneath a tranquil square and reveals the true extent of the devastation. By the end of the year, just six months after the Black Death had arrived, thousands were dying each day… This was just the beginning and next year the situation was about to get far worse.
The Black Death begins Wednesday 08th March on Channel 5.