BBC’s ‘Digging for Britain’ features underwater Durham finds

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Gary Bankhead, an archaeologist from County Durham, has made an appearance on the BBC television programme ‘Digging for Britain,’ hoping that this will help national audiences acknowledge his significant finds in Durham City’s River Wear. Since April 2007, he has uncovered more than 13,000 objects on underwater explorations.

The episode, part of Series 11, aired on BBC 2 at 8pm on 2nd January. The programme included an introduction to St Cuthbert and a significant focus on the unusual late-medieval pilgrim souvenirs that Gary has discovered.

Some of these include the ampullae and the Cuthbertine pectoral cross which was shown through underwater footage of his excavations in the River Wear downstream from Elvet Bridge.

Talking about his excavations, Mr. Bankhead said: “Here in the North East, the huge assemblage of small finds from the River Wear near Elvet Bridge has really captured the region’s imagination.

“However, despite the rarity of many of the finds, the project is yet to achieve any real national recognition; Had they been found in the River Thames in London then maybe this would not be the case – therefore, their appearance on Digging for Britain, will finally take news of their discovery to a national audience.”

“Here in the North East, the huge assemblage of small finds has really captured the region’s imagination”

Gary Bankhead

He further described his experience on appearing in an episode of Digging For Britain as “quite surreal,” continuing to say that “apart from showcasing the interesting work of archaeologists, what the Digging for Britain programme really excels in is highlighting their important discoveries to the wider British audience.

“So, for the Dive into Durham project, which coincidentally has been running for about the same length of time, this is an important opportunity.”

The episode of Digging For Britain featuring Mr Bankhead and Durham was broadcast on BBC 2 at 8pm on Tuesday, January 2. All episodes from the series will be available on the BBC iPlayer from the same date.

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