20 July 1999
For immediate release
Historian Dr Alun Howkins is the anchor for a major BBC documentary series, Fruitful Earth, which will be aired for the first time on Sunday 25 July at 6.40pm. Alun wrote and presented the four-part series himself.
The series, showing on BBC2, examines the ways in which changing agricultural methods have impacted both on the environment and on social history. In an ambitious time span of 6,500 years, the programmes will cover every major period of agriculture from Neolithic subsistence farming to the huge agri-businesses of the late twentieth century.
Alunís role as presenter and writer arose partly out of his work at Sussex, but the scope of the programme required him to broaden his research from the nineteenth and eighteenth centuries right back to 4,500 BC. "Although I wasn't on such confident ground in the period before 1770, making the programme aroused my interest in the earlier periods of agriculture much more than I thought it would," he says.
The series will run chronologically, with the first programme featuring sites in the Orkneys and County Mayo in the West of Ireland which represent the features of Neolithic farming. Other sites include Petworth in Sussex, which has an excellent example of a set of eighteenth century farm buildings, and farming areas in Cornwall, East Anglia, the Yorkshire Dales and the Scottish Borders.