Saturday, 15 January 2011

TV - Rome Wasn't Built in a Day (Channel 4) Thursday 20th February 21.00

Two thousand years ago, the Romans transformed Britain with straight roads, spectacular aqueducts and magnificent cities. The countryside was studded with luxurious villas. But today only ruins remain.

Now, six skilled builders are changing that. Foreman Jim, plasterer Tim, plumber Kevin, carpenter Fred, brickie Darren and labourer Ben are trying to construct an authentic Roman villa, using only tools and materials that were available to the Romans. The villa is for English Heritage and they have just six months for the job.

Episode 1:
In this first episode, the builders meet Prof. Dai Morgan Evans, the archaeologist who's designed the Roman villa they're attempting to build with just authentic tools and materials.

He strips them of most of their modern tools and shows them how to consult the Auguries to make sure the gods approve the site.

The first critical phase of the build is the stone work, which includes half-metre-high base walls, which will support a vast oak frame, and full-height bath house walls. So the six men need to hand hew 150 tonnes of sandstone, mix 30 tonnes of ancient lime mortar and build a cart to shift it all about.

Thousands of stones will have to be hand shaped, just as the Romans did. It's a steep learning curve as they must master a new range of skills including quarrying stone, making lime mortar and using Roman tools including a Roman surveying device, the groma.

Plaster Tim falls in love with the Roman recipe for mortar, carpenter Fred struggles to make a working cart without his power tools and foreman Jim's blunt management style gets on everyone's nerves.

One month into the build they are already slipping behind schedule and in desperate need of help. So labourer Ben takes to the local airwaves appealing for volunteers to come to the rescue.

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