From the Dark Ages

King Arthur and his legendary Knights of the Round Table; the heroic King of Wessex, Alfred the Great; hordes of Viking invaders – there’s nothing like a good early-medieval tale. Nostalgia for the Dark Ages is nothing new and we’ve put together a collection of material on people revelling in the trappings of that period and culture.

Strictly speaking, there weren’t really any “Dark Ages”. They are more a creation of popular culture than any historical reality and academics today discourage use of the term as judgemental and inaccurate. Indeed, many inventions of the so-called Dark Ages are still in use today, so there’s much to celebrate in the era after the fall of the Western Roman Empire.

In this post, we celebrate just a few things that have survived from the Dark Ages into the Twentieth Century through footage within the British Pathé archive. More clips can be found in our collection here.

1. The foundation of the English language

It wouldn’t be easy for us to pick up a 5th-century Old English manuscript and read it like we would a modern-day novel. Indeed, here is a short passage from Beowulf, written some time between the 8th and the 11th centuries:

Hwæt. We Gardena    in gear-dagum,
þeodcyninga,     þrym gefrunon, hu ða æþelingas     ellen fremedon.

Translated, this would be:

What. We of the Spear-Danes  in old days of the people-kings,    power heard, how the princes    brave deeds did.*

It is hard to believe that this Old English passage bears much relation to our own language, but this is the root of the way we write and speak; a language which would evolve over the centuries; a language of Chaucer, Shakespeare, Dickens, and Dan Brown.

Ernest Hemingway, a 20th century author making use of a language invented during the "Dark Ages", in a still from a newsreel announcing his suicide. Click the still to view the 1961 film.
Ernest Hemingway, a 20th century author making use of a language invented during the “Dark Ages”, in a still from a newsreel announcing his suicide. Click the still to view the 1961 film.

2. English Christianity

In 597 AD, the Benedictine monk Augustine arrived on the pagan shores of early-medieval Britain on a mission to spread Christianity on behalf of the Pope. Augustine is known as the first Archbishop of Canterbury, a position that has survived to the present day.

Dr. Geoffrey Fisher blesses the congregation following his enthronement as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1945. Click the still to view the film.
Dr. Geoffrey Fisher blesses the congregation following his enthronement as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1945. Click the still to view the film.

3. The Blast Furnace

The first to invent the Blast Furnace were the Chinese in the 5th century. Western Europe, on the other hand, would not catch up until the 12th century. But the “Dark Ages” did introduce something similar and very close to it. That was the Catalan forge, created in Catalonia, Spain during the 8th century.

This 1940s education film details the workings of the blast furnace, an invention of the "Dark Ages". Click the still to view the film.
This 1940s education film details the workings of the blast furnace, which was preceded by a similar invention from the “Dark Ages”. Click the still to watch.

4. The Horseshoe

Nailed horseshoes were an innovation of the “Dark Ages”, possibly from the 9th century, allowing horses to more easily traverse difficult territory without causing harm to their hooves.

A look at the work of village blacksmith Arthur Booth. Near Darlington, Durham, 1943. Click the still to view the film.
A look at the work of village blacksmith Arthur Booth. Near Darlington, Durham, 1943. Click the still to view the film.

5. The English Navy

The earliest references to ships used by English kings in battle come from the “Dark Ages”. It was the threat of Viking invaders that propelled the formation of a navy on a large scale during the course of the 9th century, particularly under King Alfred the Great. Over the centuries, Britain grew into the world’s greatest maritime power, before declining significantly in influence during the 20th century.

'"Rule Britannia!" Pictures to thrill every British heart (taken by special permission) during Atlantic Battle Fleet Manoeuvres.' Click the still to view this 1928 newsreel.
“Rule Britannia! Pictures to thrill every British heart (taken by special permission) during Atlantic Battle Fleet Manoeuvres.” Click the still to view this 1928 newsreel.

6. Sheriffs

The office of sheriff has had a varying meaning depending on the period and the particular country. In England it is now a ceremonial position, but in the 10th century it was a “keeper of the peace” appointed by the king and was known as a “shire reeve”, somewhat akin to the modern-day American police officer.

Almost every Sheriff in Britain is at the ceremony of Exeter's 400th anniversary in this 1937 film. Click the still to view it.
Almost every Sheriff in Britain is at the ceremony of Exeter’s 400th anniversary in this 1937 film. Click the still to view it.

7. The English Monarchy

Alfred the Great was the first to style himself as “King of the English”, but it was King Aethelstan in the 10th century who really ruled what we would consider to be an English kingdom. Polls show that the British have no desire to rid themselves of this historic institution.

The Queen is crowned in this colour footage of the coronation. Click the still to view the film.
The Queen is crowned in this colour footage of the coronation. Click the still to view the film.

Can you think of any more? Object to any of our choices? Leave us a comment.

You can find all of the above films and many more in this collection.

* Source: http://www.nvcc.edu/home/vpoulakis/Translation/beowulf1.htm

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British Pathé Spreads Its Wings

This quick message is to tell you about our brand new Social Media pages. Don’t worry, we’re not neglecting the old ones. In fact, we’ve recently updated our WordPress blog page and started a new series of posts summarising the contents of the archive – such as our Animation Archive, War Archive and Undersea Antics – and the history of British Pathé (see Part I of IV here). But we’ve started a new blog as well. Mostly this mirrors our Facebook page, but there are also exclusives too – such as this article on great goals. You’ll find this new blog, hosted by Tumblr, here: http://britishpathe.tumblr.com/

We also recently started a Pinterest page. If you’ve never tried Pinterest, it can be quite a lot of fun. We’ve got plenty of collections dedicated to certain aspects of the archive. You can explore them here: http://pinterest.com/britishpathe/. We’ve only just begun these boards, so they’re not going to blow you away, but follow them now if you don’t want to miss out on our updates!

Our Pinterest boards.
Our Pinterest boards.

We’re delighted with how loyal and active our Social Media supporters have been – and all for what is, essentially, old news! Thank you all. You’ve written so many comments, shared many images and clips, and watched countless videos. Recently we reached 10,000 likes for our Facebook page, and are about to pass the 11,000 mark. Join us there if you haven’t already for daily links to clip collections or films: http://www.facebook.com/britishpathe. Or follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/BritishPathe. And don’t forget that we also have a popular YouTube channel.

So take your pick of Social Media platform or follow us on all of them if you like. Let us know what you think and what you’d like from us. If you want to, you can do this anonymously here. And know that we appreciate the interest shown in our archive. It’s fantastic to know that this historic footage is not forgotten.

Visit our Pinterest page here or our tumblr blog here.

Twentieth Century Hall Of Fame

Salvador Dali, with his famous moustache.
Salvador Dali, with his famous moustache.

Around the time that what was then called “British Pathé News” was producing A Day That Shook The World with the BBC, work also began on a companion series entitled Twentieth Century Hall of Fame. Both series are important additions to the archive, for they bring its content into the 21st century (Pathé News ended in February 1970). It was not until this year, however, that the series were made available to view on the British Pathé website.

Twentieth Century Hall of Fame chronicles the lives of the most important and well-known figures of the last 100 years, whether they be politicians, musicians, or sports stars. This is a diverse collection of biographies, including such characters as Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson, Marilyn Monroe, John Lennon, Grace Kelly, and Muhammad Ali. Each episode succinctly summarises in four-minutes the life of the subject, serving as a useful introduction.

Many of the episodes are made up of footage already contained within the British Pathé archive, but some footage is unique to this series. This is the case primarily with those people who came to prominence in the 1970s, 80s, or 90s. These include Princess Diana, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Mother Teresa.

The episodes are dated by the year in which the subject was born.

Fashion designer Mary Quant is the subject of an episode.
Fashion designer Mary Quant is the subject of an episode.

 

Musician Louis Armstrong.
Musician Louis Armstrong.
Actor/comedian Charlie Chaplin is the subject of the first episode of the series.
Actor/comedian Charlie Chaplin is the subject of the first episode of the series.

You can view the entire Twentieth Century Hall of Fame series by clicking http://www.britishpathe.com/programmes/hall-of-fame or selecting the link below that you want:

Episode Date
1 Charlie Chaplin 1889
2 Louis Armstrong 1901
3 Salvador Dali 1904
4 Marilyn Monroe 1926
5 Amelia Earhart 1897
6 Juan Fangio 1911
7 Malcolm Campbell 1885
8 Elvis Presley 1935
9 Muhammad Ali 1942
10 Emmeline Pankhurst 1858
11 Stanley Matthews 1915
12 Bobby Jones 1902
13 Marlene Dietrich 1901
14 Brigitte Bardot 1934
15 Richard Burton 1925
16 Maurice Chevalier 1888
17 Dwight D. Eisenhower 1890
18 Grace Kelly 1929
19 Jacqueline Kennedy-Onassis 1929
20 Laurel And Hardy 1890
21 John Lennon 1940
22 Mary Quant 1934
23 Margot Fontaine And Rudolf Nureyev 1919
24 Laurence Olivier 1907
25 Ronald Reagan 1911
26 Margaret Thatcher 1925
27 Charles De Gaulle 1890
28 Edward And Mrs Simpson 1894
29 Fidel Castro 1926
30 Mother Teresa 1910
31 Nikita Khruschev 1894
32 Charles Lindbergh 1902
33 Eva Peron 1919
34 Yuri Gagarin 1934
35 Bob Hope 1903
36 Princess Diana 1961
37 Sophia Loren 1934
38 Gandhi 1869
39 Liz Taylor 1932

Pathé News on the Vietnam War

22nd November marks forty years since the first B52 bomber was shot down in the Vietnam War in 1972. Although we have no coverage of that particular incident, the anniversary has prompted us to search our archive and to take a look at our other footage of that controversial conflict. Here we present a brief summary.

The war was indeed divisive, as these images reveal. They are from the 1968 Vietnam War demonstrations held in Trafalgar Square, London. The clips can be found in this collection: Vietnam demonstrations British Pathé and the BBC also produced a brief summary of the demonstrations for our A Day That Shook The World series. The episode can be viewed here.

As well as the political situation in London, the British Pathé archive also holds combat footage, filmed with the American troops. This material is often forgotten, lost among the overwhelming amount of first and second world war coverage within the archive. Much the same can be said of our Korean War holdings (outlined here).

A B-52 bomber is loaded and takes off from a runway in Vietnam. Click the still to view the film.

The footage is wide-ranging. Included are political discussions and conferences, such as those held in the United Nations, between the different parties; the preparations for battle and the troops in their camps; Bob Hope entertaining the US soldiers; troops on patrol; bombs dropped and rockets being fired; Australian soldiers returning home; and general coverage of Vietnam, such as women working in a field and life in Hanoi.

Possibly also of interest are the A Day That Shook The World episode chronicling the French surrender at Dien Bien Phu in 1954 and this broader Vietnam collection. More can be found simply by searching the website (a simple search for “Vietnam” reveals 321 clips!)

A somewhat random selection of stills from the footage provides a taste of what the archive has to offer:

An American ship fires two rockets. Click the still to view the film.
Bombs are dropped from US planes. Click the still to view the film.
Helicopters land.
An injured guerilla is carried off on a stretcher by American forces. Click the still to view the film.
An American fighter takes off from an aircraft carrier. Click the still to view the film.
South Vietnamese troops on patrol. Click the still to view the film.
Nixon prepares to deliver a speech.
A normal day in Hanoi, 1974.

These clips serve as a reminder of that terrible waste of human life – the Vietnam War, 1955-1975.

You can view a selection of British Pathé’s Vietnam combat footage by clicking here or you can explore our broader Vietnam collection

Days That Shook The World – 21st Century Pathé

A few years ago, what was then called “British Pathé News” began a production with the BBC called A Day That Shook The World. Two series were eventually made, the first narrated by John Humphrys, and they are available on our website to view (for free) in our programmes section. The last Pathé newsreel was released in February 1970, so this series and the associated series 20th Century Hall of Fame bring the archive beyond the twentieth century.

Topics covered by the series include September 11th, the Iraq War and the Capture of Saddam Hussein, the collapse of Enron, the Asian Tsunami, and the London Bombings. From this period, the series also covers the wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla – not quite an event that “shook the world” but certainly an interesting one.

From the latter part of the twentieth century, the series documents the impeachment of President Clinton, the death of Diana, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the first Gulf War, Chernobyl, and the Falklands Crisis. Prior to that we are in classic Pathe territory, with episodes succinctly summarising key events using Pathe footage that was captured at the time – the Somme, Hiroshima, Queen Victoria’s funeral, to name but a few. The series therefore acts as a useful entry point into an archive of 90,000 clips to wade through.

Martin Luther King is the subject of an episode. Click the still to watch the film.
The moon landings are covered in an episode. Click the still to view it.

You can view the entire A Day That Shook The World series by clicking http://www.britishpathe.com/programmes/day-that-shook-the-world or selecting the link below that you want:

Episode Title Date
1 Queen   Victorias Funeral 1901
2 The   Wright Brothers First Flight 1903
3 Emily   Davison Throws Herself Under The Kings Derby Horse 1913
4 Battle   Of The Somme 1916
5 Abdication   Of The Tsar Nikolas 1917
6 Irish   Free State Treaty Signed 1921
7 Suzanne   Lenglen Breaks Wimbledon Record 1925
8 Start   Of UK General Strike 1926
9 Charles   Lindbergh Flies The Atlantic Solo 1927
10 American   Golfer Bobby Jones Wins Grand Slam 1930
11 Hitler   Becomes German Chancellor 1933
12 Edward   VIII Abdicates 1936
13 Hindenburg   Airship Crash 1937
14 Hitler   Annexes Austria 1938
15 Germany   Invades Poland 1939
16 Evacuation   Of Dunkirk 1940
17 London   Blitz Begins On Civilian Targets 1940
18 Pearl   Harbour Attacked 1941
19 Battle   Of El Alamein Begins 1942
20 Fall   Of Stalingrad – German Army Surrenders 1943
21 D-Day   Landings 1944
22 Liberation   Of Paris 1944
23 Big   Three Meet At Yalta To Carve Up Post-War World 1945
24 Germans   Surrender To Montgomery 1945
25 VE   Day Celebrations 1945
26 First   Atomic Bomb Test In New Mexico 1945
27 Labours   Landslide Election Win 1945
28 Atomic   Bomb Dropped On Hiroshima 1945
29 India   And Pakistan Gain Independence 1947
30 Berlin   Airlift Begins 1948
31 Maos   Communists Take Over In China 1949
32 Korean   War Starts 1950
33 Britain   Explodes First Atomic Bomb 1952
34 Launch   Of First Nuclear Submarine 1954
35 Roger   Bannister Breaks Four Minute Mile 1954
36 French   Surrender At Dien Bien Phu 1954
37 Le   Mans 24 Race Disaster 1955
38 Khrushchev   Denounces Stalin 1956
39 First   Nuclear Power Station 1956
40 Soviets   Crush Hungarian Revolt 1956
41 Suez   Invasion 1956
42 Manchester   United Players Die In Munich Air Crash 1958
43 Peles   World Cup Final Performance Thrills Crowds 1958
44 First   Hovercraft Run 1959
45 Kennedy   Inauguration 1961
46 Yuri   Gagarin Becomes The First Man In Space 1961
47 Erection   Of The Berlin Wall 1961
48 Cuban   Missile Crisis 1962
49 Martin   Luther King Delivers His “I Have A Dream” Speech 1962
50 Kennedy   Assassinated 1963
51 Beatles   Return From States In Triumph 1964
52 Aberfan   Slag Heap Buries School 1966
53 Donald   Campbell Dies In Bluebird Crash 1967
54 Six-Day   War Begins 1967
55 Grosvenor   Square Anti-Vietnam Riots 1968
56 Paris   Riots – France Comes Close To Revolution 1968
57 Soviets   Put Down Prague Spring 1968
58 Concorde   Flies For First Time 1969
59 Armstrong   Sets Foot On The Moon 1969
60 Bloody   Sunday In Northern Ireland 1972
61 Nixon   First Us President To Resign 1974
62 Ayatollah   Khomeini Returns From Exile 1979
63 Lord   Mountbatten Assassinated By IRA 1979
64 British   Sas Storm Iranian Embassy In London 1980
65 British   Task Force To Sail For Falklands 1982
66 HMS   Sheffield Sunk In Falklands War 1982
67 IRA   Bombs British Cabinet At Brighton 1984
68 Ethiopian   Famine – BBC Reports Spark Huge Response 1984
69 Heysel   Stadium Riots 1985
70 Challenger   Spacecraft Explodes 1986
71 America   Attacks Libya 1986
72 Chernobyl   Disaster 1986
73 Zeebrugge   Ferry Disaster 1987
74 Lockerbie   Pan-Am Jet Explosion 1988
75 Exxon   Valdez- Worlds Worst Oil Spill 1989
76 Hillsborough   Football Stadium Disaster 1989
77 Tiananmen   Square Massacre 1989
78 Berlin   Wall Comes Down 1989
79 Official   End Of The Cold War – Bush/gorbachev Agree To Deal 1989
80 Ceausescu   Overthrown 1989
81 Nelson   Mandela Released 1990
82 Iraq   Invade Kuwait 1990
83 Thatcher   Falls From Power 1990
84 Desert   Storm – Gulf War 1990
85 Soviet   Coup Failed 1991
86 Maastricht   Treaty 1991
87 Los   Angeles Race Riots 1992
88 British   Royal Family In Crisis 1992
89 Windsor   Castle Damaged By Fire 1992
90 The   Prince And Princess Separate 1992
91 Arab   Israeli Peace Agreement 1993
92 Yeltsin   Crushes Political Rebels 1993
93 Bosnian   Crisis 1994
94 Barings   Bank Collapses 1995
95 150   Die In Oklahoma Terrorist Attack 1995
96 Dolly   The Sheep Clone Unveiled 1997
97 Princess   Of Wales Dies In Paris Car Crash 1997
98 Death   Of Mother Teresa 1997
99 Funeral   Of Diana, Princess Of Wales 1997
100 Hurricane   Mitch 1998
101 President   Clintons Impeachment 1998
102 NATO   Bombing Of Chinese Embassy, Belgrade 1999
103 The   Millennium 2000
104 Deciphering   Of The Human Genome 2000
105 Concorde   Crash 2000
106 September   11th 2001
107 Ipod 2001
108 Battle   Of Tora Bora 2001
109 Fall   Of Iraq 2003
110 Saddam   Capture 2003
111 Beslan   School Siege 2004
112 Orange   Revolution (Ukraine) 2004
113 Asian   Tsunami 2004
114 Kyoto   Agreement 2005
115 Pope   John Paul II Dies 2005
116 Charles   And Camilla 2005
117 Super   Jumbo Airbus 2005
118 London   Awarded 2012 Olympics 2005
119 London   Bombings 2005
120 Hurricane   Katrina 2005
121 Israeli   Invasion Of Lebanon 2006
122 Collapse   Of Enron 2006

Pathé’s Hidden Treasures

“That’s all very well, but what has the Pathé archive got for ME?”

It can be tempting to think of the British Pathé archive as being only of interest to those with a passion for the history of the Twentieth Century. After all, the bulk of the footage comes from around 1914 to 1969 – the earliest clip in the archive is from 1895 (New Blacksmith Shop) with the most recent material contained within a BBC/British Pathé co-production covering the collapse of Enron in 2006 – but there is in fact plenty for those with a preference for other historical periods, or those who have specialist interests, to explore. The Pathé archive isn’t all about the Queen and British politics.

An obvious starting place for those with an interest in history prior to the Twentieth Century, is the archive relating to Ancient Egypt. We have footage of Howard Carter in front of the tomb of Tutankhamun, as well as shots of the treasures found within. (Visit our Tutankhamun collection here.)

Howard Carter at the tomb of Tutankhamun.

But as well as that famous pharoah and his discoverer, our extensive archaeology archive (click here) contains coverage from all parts of the world. You’ll be able to see Tudor and Roman Britain excavations, tour Pompeii, the Middle East, and dive the oceans to explore shipwrecks.

It’s true that none of these clips are necessarily going to help you study these periods (unless you want to look at how they were portrayed in the Twentieth Century), but they are surely of interest. What Egyptologist wouldn’t marvel at seeing Carter at the tomb, or the glistening treasures on display?

There’s also stuff for people who don’t even like history (if such people exist). Here we present just a few ideas for exploring the archive for those with specialist interests.

A still from the series Secrets of Nature.

Fascinated by science, animals, or insects? Try the classic Secrets of Nature – it covers the amazing life-cycles of plants, via some stunning microscope photography, as well as detailing the lives of many species of animals, birds, and insects.

Haven’t travelled enough? Take the cheap option and travel the world through British Pathé’s collection of travelogues. Escape the humdrum of everyday life with these clips (for the most part in colour) of numerous sites – from the ancient cities of Jerusalem, Rome, and Thebes, to the culturally rich capitals of Paris and Moscow, to the childish delights of Disneyland in sunny California.

Like animation? See Jerry the Troublesome Tyke, a classic animated series from the silent era, addictive due to its immense charm and wealth of humour.

What about music? We’ve got the Rolling Stones! Or visit our Beatlemania archive.

The Power of Nature.

Interested in the power of nature? Watch volcanoes explode, the earth shake, and rocks tumble in this collection.

Want to see an eclipse? Look at these: http://www.britishpathe.com/workspaces/show/jhoyle/hgG61kma/thumb

Always wanted to be an astronaut? Rewatch the moon landings or other significant events from the Space Race in our collection.

Or just want to pass the time with some wacky stuff? We’ve got a collection of crazy inventions, or just try searching for something. The still below is from our “Robot Boy” video, which has been popular recently. We found it by accident when looking for something else.

http://www.britishpathe.com/video/robot-boy

So search the archive for hidden gems at www.britishpathe.com. There’s 90,000 clips with something for everyone! Thought of some topics we’ve missed? Leave us a comment below. Happy searching!

The Pathé War Archive

We are now entering into the period leading up to Remembrance Day. We have already blogged this week about the history of poppies and why we wear them (see Poppies: An Illustrated History), but there is plenty more to discuss and explore. Since Pathé’s war archive is extensive, we present here some potential starting points, with links here to key collections that can act as a way in.

The First World War

British Pathé holds one of the finest and most comprehensive First World War archives in the world. You will find chilling shots of young troops huddled in their trenches, wearing gas masks, and going “over the top”, as well as battleships at sea, and aerial warfare. Some collections we have created may be of interest, such as The Somme, the use of War Horses, and the Treaty of Versailles. We even have material of married men protesting against conscription.

A more general First World War Collection can be found here, or you can search our website for what you want.

The Second World War

The archive of World War Two material filmed by British Pathé is wide-ranging. Pathé cameramen went with the troops all around the world, and documented the destruction at home. Footage details warfare on land, at sea, and in the air. Some collections that may interest you include our D-Day clips, coverage of the Battle of the Atlantic, the dramatic escape from Dunkirk, and the devastation of the Blitz.

A more general Second World War Collection can be found here, or you can search our website for what you want.

Korean War

The Korean War is often referred to as “The Forgotten War”. Two and a half million people lost their lives in this conflict, including many British soldiers. Our Korean War Collection (just a selection) can be found here, or you can search our website for what you want.

Remembrance Day is on 11th November.