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(generated from captions) (My darling!) I wrote these for you, my love. So they must rest with you.

GABRIEL SOBS this intensity when she was alive? Why could I not have loved her with You cannot be alone, Gabriel. with me and Effie as we planned. You must move in immediately Live with us. Jane and I. the same roof with just me. She is scared to be under I'm sure that's not true. An artistic colony was my idea! Now, hang on, Morris. condition. That we were never alone. She said she would marry me on one An odd demand for a marriage. William's case. It's true. Possibly a necessary one in

I am difficult. A clumsy man of great delicacy. with you instead, Maniac? What if I were to move in back to Palestine, Gabriel. I am afraid I am going been one to take my advice. I know you have never But I would move in with Morris. It would be a new beginning.

of a new beginning, Gabriel, And if anyone was in need ghost will follow me there. then it is you. And Lizzie's She will follow me there. Let me go on. We have talked of this... I didn't believe you loved her. poems into the grave. until I saw you throw your I did not believe you loved her

I know how much they mean to you. Well, I can't look at them again. I don't know about that. Not just to you. But to others. They were just idle scribbling.

all the more remarkable. that made your decision No. It was their quality They were clearly publishable. "This is her picture as she was "It seems a thing to wonder on Should tarry when myself am gone." "As though mine image in the glass You memorised it? ways they were your greatest work. We both did. We thought in many Really?

Any sign? I think perhaps there. We've found the poems! It's the poems, Gabriel!

It's a miracle! Completely undamaged! It's God's will, William. Surely it's God's will. God has returned them to me. I have them, Fred.

'I look at Gabriel as he says this 'and I look at myself never believe another word he says. 'and I realise that I will 'I am finally free.' Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

This program is not subtitled

'Ahead on Compass.' The missionaries back then, environment - they faced an incredibly hostile chronic, endemic, warfare - within Britain, as these tiny little kingdoms fought for power. pagan and Christians, Hello, there. Thank you for joining me became one nation for the story of how Britain

Christianity. under a single religion - in a bold series It's the third instalment

that examines Christianity of some high profile identities. from the personal perspectives theologian Robert Beckford, In this episode, the British whom we featured before on Compass, in Britain explores how warring pagan tribes united under Christianity, to the creation of an identity and how this was vital for the English people it is today. and the basis of the nation

when the Roman Empire collapsed, '400 years after the birth of Jesus, in the history of these islands. a new chapter began was more significant What happened then the Magna Carta than the Battle of Hastings, and the Reformation combined. This film will tell the story of the Britain we live in today. of the creation the immigration of new people, It's a story about

pagans, who created new politics.' and this is our kingdom. "This is our land physical presence in that kingdom." Our dead are still a

about saints and mystics 'But it's also a story to create a Christian community.' and the difficult struggle to total failure. The mission came extremely close

it's a story of how Christianity 'And most important, for England and for Britain. created a new vision of nationhood who we are today.' It's a story of what made us It's a dangerous place out there. and transforming. Your faith can be radical Whether you're a Christian or not, or not, whether you feel completely British I believe that even today, some important lessons to teach us this ancient history has about who we are.

Because 1,500 years ago, a religious revolution Britain underwent that transformed warring pagan tribes Christianity. into one nation under one religion - 'My name is Robert Beckford. I have studied religion and politics For most of my life,

can help unite us wondering whether religion or just further fragment our society. As a child of Jamaican immigrants, and rethink British history I've had to constantly reclaim ignorance and discrimination. in order to challenge prejudice, of political discrimination - And here is a classic symbol

Hadrian's Wall in Northumberland.

It's about exclusion and inclusion - who's in, who's out, themselves a citizen, who belongs.' who has the right to call It was 1,500 years ago, was collapsing, just as the Roman Empire first began to be asked that these questions and what did it mean to be British. of who the British were was religion. And at the very heart of it for one religion But what would it mean to unite a whole country? as sharply defined as this one Would it create boundaries more inclusive, or something more welcoming, more all-encompassing?

Christianity first arrived in Britain 'History tells us that during the Roman occupation. from the Mediterranean the army, It was an import, like the roads, the drainage and everything else. And its focus was in the cities.

in Britain. This was once the third largest city it very likely even had a bishop. By 300AD, a majority faith here. But Christianity certainly wasn't the pagan temples were in use. Right to the end, Christianity was vulnerable.' So when the empire collapsed,

Within a few decades, had been abandoned towns like Verulamium and in most of the country, had vanished, most of the basic things like coinage and even writing and along with the Roman Empire, Christianity had largely disappeared. It only managed to survive in a few isolated pockets, and this is one of them. Not here in the Roman town,

but over there. 'This great abbey is dedicated to one of the only Christian martyrs we know from Roman times, St Alban. He was beheaded in the 3rd century.' He's the first martyr, the first British martyr. The first one to die for the Christian faith that we know of, anyway, in this country. So that makes him hugely important. People have worshipped on this spot for probably 1,750 years. That's an extraordinary length of time. And there is something about the focus of prayer and devotion

on this one spot over the ages that really does seem to make it holy. 'The memory of St Alban survived. But in most of England, Christianity almost completely disappeared. Only in the west and in Ireland did it remain a real force. Ireland had never been part of the Roman Empire. But just as the Empire was collapsing,

Christian missionaries arrived under the leadership of St Patrick.

And here Christianity took a radically different form. It was devoted to austerity and mysticism. At Glendalough, a hermit called St Kevin built his cell high on a hill overlooking the lake, close to nature and the elements. He was emulating the desert fathers of early Christian Egypt and Syria.'

According to the Bible, the desert's a holy place that people should go to experience God directly, like Moses and the prophets. It's in the desert, too, that Jesus faces his temptations. 'Irish mysticism was just as hardcore. But here, it was the weather and the wilderness that drew the hermits. To concentrate his mind, Kevin would immerse himself up to his waist in the lake.' And this was not a centrally heated lake. It was a kind of very cold mountain lake that Kevin, in order to mortify himself and to do penance and therefore, to grow in self-denial,

he goes into the lake to pray. 'Hermits like Kevin became famous. Whole communities grew up around them.'

I mean, these hermits, eventually, although they lived in their own little hermitages, became a kind of community. Kevin moves down the valley to the other end, where the land is a bit flatter, and fairly quickly, a monastic settlement grew up which had hundreds of people in it as monks and lots of other people who became part of its, if you like, its economy and its survival structure. It became the seat of a bishop who became the spiritual leader of the wider Christian community. 'Celtic Christianity took off in a spectacular way all over the western British Isles, creating a network of monasteries which stretch from Iona in the north to the Bay of Biscay. These Celtic monks had links with the Mediterranean and the deserts of Coptic Egypt. Against a background of traditional Celtic culture, learning and literature flourished.

What's more, these Celtic monasteries sent out missionaries back onto the mainland of Britain.' Westminster politicians are often accused of seeing Ireland, Scotland and Wales as backwaters today, on the fringes of modern British life. But 1,500 years ago, they were the dynamos of the Christian conversion of Britain. But conversion was never going to be an easy process. Christianity would have to struggle to reassert itself over what had become largely a pagan island.

'After the collapse of Rome, Britain had been overwhelmed by immigrants from Europe. Pagans who followed a gospel of violence.

In the years after 400AD, the Roman Empire collapsed. Into the vacuum came a large number of immigrants from overseas. Most of them were Germans from outside the Roman Empire - pagan Angles, Saxons and Jutes.

They created an ethnic divide in the island between the Celts in the west and Anglo-Saxons in the east, which has continued to this day. They carved out new kingdoms for themselves in Britain, some of whose names we still remember. Eventually, these people would create the nation we live in. This was the real beginning of our multi-ethnic world.

And these Anglo-Saxons brought with them their own pagan gods, gods who, in a sense, are still with us.' So what did they believe in? Well, they were a preliterate culture. No-one was writing anything down, so we don't have a direct knowledge of what they believed. What we only have surviving is the archaeology and the days of the week named after the pagan gods of the Anglo-Saxons - Tuesday named after Tiw,

Woden's Day, Wednesday and Thunor's Day, Thor's Day, Thursday. So we have names, but we don't know what people thought about these gods and how they worshipped them in detail. 'Sutton Hoo is the most spectacular Anglo-Saxon cemetery in the country. It was probably the burial ground for the kings of East Anglia.

The biggest barrow included a whole ship and produced grave goods of barbaric splendour. They provide a dramatic insight into their pagan beliefs.' We're looking at a military orientation to the religious beliefs, a focus on the power of kings. But the overall statement was, perhaps, of the dead person going off to an afterlife in a ship, but also of the dead person residing in their ship within the mound. 'As holy defenders of their peoples, these kings had total confidence in their pagan faith.' The statement was, "This is our land and this is our kingdom. Our dead are still a physical presence in that kingdom."

So these mounds are bigger and better than everyone else, reflecting the status of the individuals buried here, but also perhaps a sense of, that their gods are better than everyone else and their ancestors are superior. 'This was going to be a tough nut for Christianity to crack. The Celtic Christianity which had survived in the western parts of the British Isles was beginning to send out missionaries.' But here it came up against a hugely rejuvenated paganism backed by powerful immigrant Anglo-Saxon kings. And into this finely balanced situation came a third force - a Christian mission from Rome. 'This was a dramatic new development. In 597, the Pope himself

sent a party of Italian monks, led by a man called Augustine, to try and convert the pagan Anglo-Saxons. In particular, the king of Kent, called Ethelbert. Ethelbert already had a Christian wife,

a Merovingian princess from France. He had given her this church in Canterbury to worship in. But tolerating his wife's faith was one thing. Actually taking it up was another. Amazingly, Ethelbert agreed.' Augustine's conversion of Ethelbert was a major coup. Now, it's a big deal when anybody changes their religion. But for a king in this situation, it was even more important. It would have major political consequences which, if he got wrong, would destroy his rule. Ethelbert's gods had served him well. He was the most powerful monarch in Britain, and yet he decided to abandon them. Well, I think Ethelbert's big problem was that the French Merovingian kings were very powerful. Now, if you want the support of the Merovingian kings, you might do well to share their religion and they are Catholics. So I think Ethelbert was interested in securing that support

and in making his mark as a king in England. So the king converts, and we've got records of at least 10,000 people following. Yes, that's right, and, in some senses, Augustine was very, very successful.

But, of course, it's not a process where you can be sure that people know what Christianity is in any form that we would recognise. The pre-existing Anglo-Saxon religion is not exclusive, so it's only Christianity that thinks conversion's a big deal. The pagan community would simply think, "Oh, well, this is another right, this is another god. We'll have a go at this one as well." 'And for Ethelbert, there were tangible benefits. As well as a church where the cathedral now stands, Augustine founded a new monastery outside the city, where Ethelbert and his successors would be buried in style. And Augustine's monks began working for Ethelbert as clerks, even drawing up a law code for him, which is the oldest document in the English language,

the beginning of our common law. But the Celtic Christians in the west rejected Augustine's Roman authority.' He really tried to almost bully them. "Persuasion" is not really quite a strong enough word, I think, in this particular case. And they eventually said, "No, you are not a sufficiently humble man for us to accept as our leader." They rejected it. The mission came extremely close to total failure only 20 years after it had been established. The problem with Augustine's Roman Christianity was that it was an alien force imposed on the people of Britain. It was rejected by the people he had come to convert and even by the Celtic Christians in Wales and the west. But the Pope didn't give in. Instead, he made a historic and vital decision which revolutionised English Christianity. He decided to compromise. 'Courageously, the Pope told his missionaries not to smash the pagan temples. Now the order was to turn them into Christian churches.

Pagan rites would not be demonised, but adapted into Christian ritual. And that's what happened here. In Old English, the word "harrow" meant "pagan temple," a place of blood and sacrifice.

But on top of the hill now there's a church.' What the church is trying to do with these beliefs, we're not exactly sure. They're probably suffering some, adapting others, mixing together and matching. It's when Christianity beds into the agricultural cycle, into the daily life of the traditional rural folk that we can get a sense of that adaptation. So, for example, the only source we have to tell us the name of one of the pagan gods, Eostre, is because it's preserved in our name for Easter.

The Christians adapt that name into the Christian festival, so it becomes adapted into the Christian church. 'But this revolutionary compromise could only work where the Christians were in control. And in many places, they weren't.' The missionaries back then, remember, they faced an incredibly hostile environment - Chronic, endemic warfare as these tiny little kingdoms within Britain - pagan and Christians - fought for power. 'For half a century after Ethelbert died in 616, the religious future of Britain was in the balance. Armies marched the length of Britain and each of them called on its own god of battle

in search of victory. Even though Christianity was a gospel of peace, success in battle proved that your god was a more powerful one. And by the mid-630s, the most powerful king in Britain was the Christian king of Northumbria. And here in the north, he made a major contribution to the creation of a Christian nation.

His capital was the stronghold of Bamburgh in Northumberland. He was baptised not by Augustine's Roman church, but by Celtic monks from Iona. He invited them to set up a monastery to consolidate the faith in his kingdom, just across the water from his castle, at Lindisfarne, the Holy Island.

Whether you're a Christian or not, Lindisfarne is one of the most important places in our history.

Then as now, it's cut off from the mainland at high tide. Like the Celtic monasteries,

it provided the right mystical setting for Christianity to flourish, where monks could study and pray

and the faithful come to honour them. At high tide, it was the perfect safe haven. At low tide, evangelists could set off to spread the gospel.'

I think there is a sense of numinous here, of awe, of the saints, which people do pick up. And they sort of say, they go in the church and they say, "There's something here I can feel. I feel it's easier to pray." You've got the tradition, you've got prayer clinging to the walls, you've got all the help, you know, which a secular world, generally, is very bare of. 'Lindisfarne became a powerhouse of Celtic Christianity, driven by the engines of austerity and mysticism. Its early leaders used to come here to this small island to pray. The most famous was St Cuthbert. Although he became a bishop, he followed the traditions of St Kevin.' But he would have a regime whereby

he could, you know, stand up to his neck in water

for part of the night to actually cleanse himself. But also he's a gifted preacher and teacher. He's a canny politico and he's not afraid of actually telling it how it is to the kings of the day. This is really quite a complex picture, then, because Cuthbert isn't just somebody who's separated from the world, he sees himself as, really, very much engaged in the world. Very much so. You can imagine that when the king in his castle in Bamburgh looked out and saw the cell of St Cuthbert, this emaciated, vulnerable, Gandhilike figure,

fasting at his gates, reminding him, as the ruler, that there are other things than wealth and power. But he seems to have really upped the stakes. He seems to be, really, doing all kinds of spiritual activity to fight the big-time evil that he sees out there. Absolutely. Although he wouldn't have espoused warfare, somebody like Cuthbert becomes a spiritual warrior. And that sort of spills over. So you're taking the best of the honour code of the old barbarian, pagan system and actually turning that at the service of a new set of Christian values and virtues. Lift up your hearts. CONGREGATION: We lift them to the Lord. 'In the process, the pagan warrior culture of the Angles and Saxons blended with the Christianity of the Celts and Rome to create a brilliant fusion in literature and the arts. Anglo-Saxon poetry even portrayed the crucifixion as a Dark Age battle in which a warrior Jesus triumphs over his enemies.

And by 660, after a last titanic battle, almost all of Britain was under Christian rule. Christianity had triumphed.' There's no arguing with the fact that for a Dark Age king, Christianity was a fantastic force for creating a kingdom. Christianity brought writing, so you could have legal codes and documents and begin to create a bureaucracy. But more important than that,

to be a Christian king was to be part of a universal community that spread across Europe to Rome and beyond. So there were the added benefits of trade and also cultural exchange. To be a member of the Christian club

brought enormous benefits. 'But even so, there was still no such thing as a united church in Britain. Up here in the north, the Celtic tradition was stronger, but further south, Augustine's Roman Church was powerful. There had to be a showdown. What kind of church, what kind of Christianity, what kind of nation would emerge from the clash? By 660AD, Christianity had established itself across the whole of Britain. But it was divided. To the south, the Roman Church claimed its authority from St Peter.

In the north and west, the Celtic Church remained loyal to the traditions of its indigenous holy men. One was urban in outlook, one rural. The two had different cultures, different rituals and when you think that what divided them most was the question of when to celebrate Easter, the holiest day in the Christian calendar, you kind of expect it all to end badly, with bloodshed, torture and burnings.' But this Dark Age was not as dark as you might think. That's not what happened. Instead, in 664, the issue was settled here in Whitby in debate before the King of Northumbria, his sister, St Hilda, the Abbess of Whitby, and his assembled nobles.

What was at stake was a vital issue. Would the church in England continue to exist by itself on the edge of things, out in northern Christendom or would it join the mainstream of the western tradition? The outcome wasn't just the church issue, but about the future of England itself. These are real issues to people at the time.

If you can't actually agree about the date of the main focal festival of your religious year, it shows that, you know, you've got things that are separating you. And how are they resolved? What's the outcome? Essentially, the king makes the final call and says, "Well, much as I respect the Irish saints, when I get to the pearly gates, it's going to be St Peter, the successor of Christ, who's holding the keys. He's decided to go European, to go mainstream, with all the benefits that that brings. So that swings it? That swings it. So why does it matter today? I think because it marks a turning point in how we site ourselves. Being English in the future is going to be about being part of Europe, part of the mainstream. There is a turning point at which you recognise

that you can't just do your own thing in your own neck of the woods. You've got to be part of something bigger and more universal. 'From now on, English Christians would look to Rome, rather than the Celtic west. And this kicked off a huge expansion of church-building that must have transformed the landscape and society too, because all these minsters, as they were called, were learned communities of monks and nuns. In 678, a Northumbrian aristocrat founded the minster at Jarrow on the Tyne. It became an important centre, not only of Christianity,

but of trade, literature and scholarship and it was to be the birthplace of a whole new vision of national identity, too.' One crucial point about monasteries like this is that they were permanent institutions, which meant they were able to maintain

a continuity of purpose over generations. And that meant they could act like cultural powerhouses, places where cultural identities were forged and preserved, and nowhere more so than here in Jarrow, the home of one of the most important people in English history, without whom there might never have been the entity known as England and his name was the Venerable Bede. We're so proud, because let's remember, Bede, he went into Wearmouth when he was about seven. He came here between the ages of 9 and 12. He was here when they laid that foundation stone. He rose no higher than a common monk, and yet by the time he was 42, he was considered the most intelligent man in Europe. And basically, when you think about it,

he's so important in our British way of life, because he's the base of all history. 'Writing in the monastery at Jarrow, Bede was the first historian of our nation. His history of the Church in England is the oldest historical text we possess.

But his approach to the subject makes it even more significant.' Like all historians, Bede had an agenda. But in this case, the agenda has been vitally important. Bede's book is called The Ecclesiastical History Of The English People. And what's revolutionary about it is that, for the first time, he describes the English as a people - gens Anglorum, in the Latin.

And crucially, they were also a Christian people. 'In page after page of his history, Bede proclaims the Christian unity of the English people. There was still no political unity at all. England was a patchwork of warring kingdoms. But Bede persists in calling them all English. That Bede invented the idea of a Christian English people is one thing, but what does Bede's Englishness consist of?

What does it mean to us in Britain today? It's a question I've been asking all of my life.

The answer was given over 1,000 years ago, right here on Holy Island. Bede collaborated with the monks here

to produce a manifesto of what they meant by Englishness. But it's not a political manifesto, it's a Christian work of art. The Lindisfarne Gospel is a Latin gospel book illuminated on Holy Island, probably for use in the cult of St Cuthbert. The painting and calligraphy were the work of one lone genius, Bishop Eadfrith of Lindisfarne. And these pages deliberately include elements from all the traditions, from Rome, the Celtic world and beyond, which went to make up this new Christian English identity.' The Lindisfarne Gospels was probably the single most symbolic visual statement of what they were trying to say. This would have been the most seen book of its day. You're probably not going to be able to read. You're going to come to the high altar to see the tomb of St Cuthbert, to see the book... ..and there'll be strange Latin letters. There's even Greek. But there were also Germanic, runic-style letters and Irish ogham. And then when you look at the way in which these words just explode across the page and become an icon, an image in their own right. And as your eye penetrates into the ornament, you'd see something that welcomed you and spoke of your family, your ancestry, your culture. And this is a period when people declare who they are, what they believe, by what they wear. And so it's personal display. The animal ornament that you see on the letters might be like the belt buckle that your great-granddaddy had when he was in the Roman army with this Germanic, wild, barbarian ornament on it. The swirls of the sea and the air might speak to another woman of the brooch that her Irish grandmother gave to her. And so there would be something for everybody there. And even beyond your own experience. If you look at these incredible carpet pages, which preface each of the four gospels, my research has shown you were actually using carpets as prayer mats here at the time that this was made.

And so you've got something that's part of the shared ritual of the churches of the Middle East, of Islam, we are participating in as well. So a book like this becomes a symbolic statement of a harmony that extends throughout the whole world,

from the watery wildernesses of the west,

to the deserts of Syria and Egypt. So, just visually,

they get a sense that the faith that they have isn't just national, but it's international. It connects them with other parts of the globe. It's universal, it's multicultural, and it's eternal. You're part of the bigger picture. I'm getting a bit carried away here, because all of this talk about inclusion, but, yet, there was so much violence and bloodshed

associated with people taking on the Gospels.

That's why the message is so real. It's a dangerous place out there and your faith can be radical and transforming. And this is an age where kings would give up their wealth and their power and become simple, humble servants in the world. If anyone needs evidence to disprove the idea of a Dark Age, it's here in Lindisfarne and it's gleaming with civilisation. But there's more to it than that. The Lindisfarne gospels make an extraordinary statement about multiculture. In an age when much is being made of an inevitable clash between East and West and that Christianity and Islam are supposed to be at war, it's amazing, it's actually a blessing to see how much we actually share. I've discovered another way of seeing England as a more inclusive, more welcoming, all-encompassing culture that's willing to borrow and adapt ideas from the rest of the world.

This early English church wasn't small-minded, but the epitome of diversity. HORNS BLAST 'In the 8th century, this English golden age became a beacon which shone, not just in these islands, but across Europe, too. English missionaries masterminded Christianity's expansion into what was then pagan Austria and Germany. When this imperial chapel was begun in the 780s, it was to be the centrepiece of a new capital for a new empire, which extended from Spain to Denmark and Hungary.

The ruler who ordered it was called Charlemagne, Charles The Great.' Charlemagne wanted to revive the glory days of the Roman Empire. The Holy Roman Empire was a result, a new Christian empire that would rule on the continent of Europe for 1,000 years.

This church is almost a direct copy of the one at the former imperial Roman capital at Ravenna in Italy. It was the centrepiece of Charlemagne's empire and at its heart, an Englishman from York called Alcuin. I think Alcuin was fundamentally important to all this. The most important thing of all, I think, was that he was a spiritual guide. It was the kind of combination, if you like, of life in the world and the monastic life. So when Charlemagne said things like, "The real question for us is are we really Christian?" - he actually asked that question, he wanted his court, his people, to address that question - Alcuin was behind it. What about Bede's idea of a Christian pluralism? Does Alcuin bring those ideas here to Charlemagne? Yes, I think he does. Alcuin gave a great boost to this notion that it wasn't just a unified empire, it wasn't an imperialist empire, it's an association of Christian peoples. And what unites them is their Christianity.

I think that's the message. And it's a message which has a certain resonance for Europe today, the idea of something like a confederation, rather than an empire. So it's a kind of Christian EU before the EU? I think one could put it that way. It's amazing to think, less than 200 years after their conversion, English Christians had achieved so much and wielded such power of influence over European affairs. But then, at the very height of their success, disaster struck.

'Thousands of pagan Viking raiders from Scandinavia began attacking the Christian English kingdoms. Even Lindisfarne was sacked. By the 870s, only the kingdom of Wessex survived. It was ruled by a man who would become a national hero.

His name was Alfred.' There seems no doubt that for Alfred, this wasn't just your usual Dark Age squabble, it was an apocalyptic battle between the forces of good and the forces of evil, a battle for the very survival of Christian England.

By 878, pagan Viking armies had almost destroyed the Christian English kingdoms. In Wessex, King Alfred the Great was on the run, hiding out in the marshes of Somerset. Fortified by his Christian faith, he summoned his people and finally brought the pagan Danish army to battle at a place called Ethandun here in Wiltshire. The result was a victory for Christianity over the pagan Vikings.'

After the battle at Ethandun, Alfred became a national hero. The forces of evil were defeated. In the aftermath of the battle,

the Viking leader, a vicious character called Guthrum, became a Christian and Alfred his godfather. But the battle achieved something else, too. It started the process of the political unification of England. The Christian unity of the English people that Bede had celebrated at Jarrow was now a political reality. What was a religious and cultural community

now became one nation with one religion at its heart. 'Astonishingly, Alfred's thoughts on creating this new nation still survive because he wrote them down himself. St Gregory's Pastoral Care is 1,400 years old. It's a manual for Christian government and Alfred himself translated it into early English. He then sent copies to the great men in his kingdom with a preface in English explaining why.

In the process, he was turning Bede's idea of Englishness into an English nation - England.' That notion of Engalund, which is a territory,

they may be Danish, they may be Welsh,

they may be Bretons, they may be Franks. If they come and accept his Lordship and accept Christianity, they can be part of that kingdom, for which he's prescribing this wisdom coming from Gregory's Pastoral Care.

'For Alfred, anyone can join the Angles and Saxons in a new community, united not just by religion, but language, too. This is a new nation.' Some historians in recent decades, I think, have made quite a lot of the nation idea - that this is a kind of early form of nationalism. And I think there's an element of that, obviously, because Alfred prioritises the language, the translating into his language, and talks about the Englishkind in several of his works. He uses that work - it's a new coinage. And, if you like, you can see that as prefiguring some kind of national unity. But is this religion being used ideologically? Is it a way in which they're beating other people into submission?

Is that one way in which we could read this? It's possible to see it that way. It's not the way that, I think, most historians see it. It's not the way that the sources make it sound. You can be a Dane and you can have your own Danish law for secular things, but if you live in England in the 10th century, you're a Christian So I think it's very hard to present it too much in terms of knocking people over the head. I think it's people are buying in. I mean, this is really quite revolutionary for me

and really quite profound, because as somebody who's African-Caribbean, my understanding of Englishness has been rather fixed and narrow. So now to see, at the very birth of the nation, you get this sense of fluidity in terms of identity and drawing people in, but the sense that you can be both/and, rather than either/or. So it's not a fixed, exclusive ideology.

It's inclusive and it's flexible and it's therefore very attractive. And I think it works. The proof of the pudding, if you like, is in these books that we see in front of us. 'These are the ideas that created not just England, but the nation we know today. Our links to Alfred's kingdom are deep. We owe to it not just the monarchy and the Church,

but the jury system, the common law, even the counties we live in today. As a political entity, Hampshire is older than France. The saints of Lindisfarne were finally buried in the cathedral at Durham.

But 1,200 years later, how much of their inclusiveness remains in Britain? Churches today - Anglicans, Catholics, Pentecostals and the rest - often seem divided along ethnic and cultural lines. I've called it Sunday Morning Apartheid. So I'm not sure that the Lindisfarne message of Bede, Alfred and Cuthbert has survived as well as these relics.' There is radical evil out there and it's got to be faced and dealt with in the power of the cross of Jesus. People have found it difficult to do those things. Cuthbert held them together. The celebration of the goodness of God and the overthrow of the power of evil. And we need to follow that for all it's worth. The legacy of Cuthbert inspires me because I see him attempting to build a church community that is inclusive.

When I look at the established church, it seems quite homogenous to me. Is that really a good example of Cuthbert's legacy? Clearly, Cuthbert was there for everybody and with everybody and the Church is doing its best to be that today. I'm not going to say we're perfect, cos we're not. We'll put up our hands and say, "We're getting this wrong." But we are there for everybody. That's quite clear. It's about trying to speak a word of justice and mercy into a society that is in danger of forgetting both. And I think Cuthbert would be a real help in getting us to do that. 'In the centuries since the time of Cuthbert, the English went on to subjugate the other peoples of the British Isles and to colonise the world. But that Lindisfarne message didn't die. It lay behind the anti-slavery movement, the Victorian missions to the poor and the Christian Socialist Movement. But it has to be struggled for.' Today, in a world where asylum seekers are vilified, where racism, homophobia and social exclusion are still common, where Islamic extremists and Christians who are angry vie for the headlines, I believe the message of Lindisfarne is needed now more than ever.

It has revolutionary potential, because it teaches us that identity is never fixed or given, but always changing and that the most creative times are when these identities are open to others. But even more important, those Dark Ages gave us a sense of national identity - one state, one language and until recently, one religion.

You don't find that in many countries, but you do in Britain. Because of what happened all those years ago, when, out of the chaos and violence which followed the collapse of the Roman Empire, the peoples of Britain created a new idea of themselves,

A Christian identity which has made us what we are today.' That's why I believe the Dark Ages are the most important in our history, not only because they show us who we were, but also who we might be. It's amazing to think that the world of Bede and Cuthbert, the world of over 1,000 years ago can still speak to us in this way. But it's true.

The joys of well done history on television, I hope you agree. Robert Beckford there, with the creation of an English identity under Christianity. And do visit our website for more about this series by Channel 4 and its presenters. and let us know your own thoughts on our message board.

Next week: Their task was to end the rule of Islam over the holy places. 'The long shadow cast by the crusades and its resonance on relations between the Muslim world and the West today. 'In the West, the crusades are a chapter of Christian history that has little impact on our lives today. But what few people realise is that today's Islamist suicide bombers believe they are still fighting the crusaders.' 'History is now repeating itself in Iraq. America went there in the name of progress, freedom and to remove an oppressive regime. Now they're actually killing its sons and taking its wealth.' Christianity, A History: The Crusades. That's next Sunday on Compass. So until then, goodnight. Closed Captions by CSI

Photography today looks like this. But it also looks like this.

And this.

And of course it looks like this too. 80 billion photographic images will be taken this year alone. Lot number six. Photography also looks like this. $1 million. An object of desire for dealers, collectors and hedge fund managers. At $2.4 million. Today, photography is not only worth bidding for,

it's worth fighting for. Cynical, voyeuristic, exploitative. All these were the words that I heard. And it's also worth faking for. I was told that it was one of two prints. Then there was another. Then there was another one and they all looked the same. This is a snapshot of photography in the digital age.

Diverse, ubiquitous, valuable and technologically advanced. But like any good snapshot, there is more going on here than meets the eye. The medium has never been more widely appreciated or more eagerly exploited. But what does it mean to be a photographer today?

And what is a photograph really worth these days? Garbage. THEME MUSIC

On Main Street in Pittsfield, Massachusetts,

lights are being rigged, props are being positioned and the talent are taking their places. Let's get... let's get Larry - let's get Larry in the car.

OK, clear frame. We got lights inside the car. It looks like a movie, sounds like a movie and smells like a movie, but it isn't.

All of this activity is to make a single photograph by Gregory Crewdson. I'm ready for him. I work with a production crew that all come out of film. We work with cinematic lighting but we are only after creating one single perfect moment. Not not the car track. Try to clear all those tracks, as much of those as you can.

Crewdson even has his own director of photography and his own camera operator. Position and hold. Relax. I do have a strangely disconnected relationship to photography.

I don't even like holding a camera. I don't take the actual picture. What I'm truly interested in is images

and then the camera is just a necessary instrument. Smack right in the middle.

Over an 11-day shoot in a variety of locations, Crewdson's team will make a series of multiple exposures which will be digitally combined to make six final images. He'll produce an edition of six prints of each image, priced at approximately $60,000. There's already a list of prospective buyers. Let's get everyone in position... ..and hold. With his striking tableaux, which combined Hollywood production values with suburbia's bad dreams, Crewdson has become a hot property, confident that he has an audience who will appreciate and, if they can afford it, buy his work.

This is exactly where it should be. This is the picture. Let's really make sure we fucking get it. Hold. Final exposure. CAMERA CLICKS That is a wrap. Fantastic job, everyone. Perfect photograph. For Crewdson, the business and benefits of being a photographer feel very different from the experience of earlier generations. Robert Adams, a highly respected photographer who first came to prominence in the early '70s, had to contend with very different realities, with only his wife on his team. It's good that people can earn enough money to free their own time and have their own years when they have full energy to work and explore what's been given to them. But Kerstin and I lived most of our working life on her income as a librarian and together we were earning something like the salary of a beginning bus driver. We never went hungry, we were never scared but many is the time that I worried a lot and sleepless nights about whether I could afford to buy the equipment I needed, which is tedious. The photography world was a different place then and it had few friends in high places. I tried to call the 'New York Times' and get our exhibitions listed in the art calendar and the woman from the 'New York Times' - this would be late '71 - told me, the direct quote is, "We don't list photography. "Photography is not an art." But something happened to open up the field

where things were just happening and it was like a garden blooming. There were things all over it.

The change, which began in America but would ultimately spread to the rest of the world, began when photo-literate teenagers graduated from buying reproductions of their favourite photographs to collecting the real thing. I'm a baby boomer. I'm 53 years old. I grew up looking at the 'Picture' magazines,

learning about the world we live in from looking at photographs. And the fact that the people who love it because they grew up with it coming of age helped people understand that photography's something interesting to look at. And then it's a lot of fun to be a collector. By the late '70s, baby boom enthusiasm had brought the market in photography into the mainstream and prices rose accordingly. Photographers like William Klein, who made their names decades before the market boom, found prints they'd made for reproductions and books and magazines now treated with a strange new reverence. If I would give a photograph to somebody, they would either fold it up and put it in a drawer or put it on the wall with thumbtacks and so on

and now people put on white gloves and use two hands and they go for a lot of money. You know, it's like the Russian bonds that you paper your toilet with and suddenly people decided they're going to redeem these bonds and they're worth money. Does that make you feel good? Make me feel good? It amazes me. At 21,000, 22,000. Bidding at 22,000. We have pushed the prices of photographs at auction up and up and up.

But along with auction house respectability has come a new scale of values for assessing the worth of a photograph. Prints that command the highest price tags are usually the ones that were made by the photographer himself closest to the time the picture was actually taken. Like fine wines, these prints are known as vintage. What I just took off the wall here is a print made in the mid 1940s of this signature image of Ansel Adams but in fact the negative was made nearly 20 years earlier and this is one of the first prints that he made in 1927 so this is a true vintage print that Adams made of the monolith in 1927. This is all blocked up here. It's all about huge amounts of areas of dark,

whereas here he striates the dark with the snow and all of that is, of course, differences that are done in the dark room. I'm not actually sure which I like better.

I probably, in this case, in fact, prefer the later print. But as Mattis knows, his preferred print's monetary value

is two-thirds that of its older sibling. Ever since Henry Fox Talbot

discovered how to produce prints from a single negative, infinite reproducibility has been a unique feature of photography's genius and key to its astonishingly rapid rise to prominence. But for dealers and collectors, photography's greatest strength remains its biggest problem. When it comes to a photograph, less, as far as the market is concerned, is more. It used to be that, in the '70s and' '80s when the photography market was just getting started, there was no such thing as editions. It didn't exist. Ansel Adams did not have editions. Somebody came to Ansel Adams and said, "Hey, why don't we put a cap on this of 100 "and we can ask more money for it?" It's a marketing thing. Dealers have had their work cut out trying to make photographs behave like works of art but the medium is inherently promiscuous as the market was rudely reminded in 1999. In the early 20th century, Lewis Hine used his photography to fight for social change and to celebrate the dignity of labour.

But 50 years after his death, Hine's prints had become highly collectible artworks. Peter MacGill bought a print of 'The Powerhouse Mechanic'. I bought one. I was told that it was one of two prints and it was beautiful. It was big, it was warm-toned, it was signed on the back, it was stamped on the back, all the things that we thought were important were there in place.

Then there was another one. Then there was another one and they all looked the same. Collector Michael Mattis had also bought 'The Powerhouse Mechanic' but as a theoretical physicist,

he was confident that science could get to bottom of this sudden glut of Hines. I thought it might be a weekend's work to conclusively date a sheet of photographic paper but it turned out that we had to develop all sorts of new dating criteria which are now commonly in use in the photography world,

some of which we borrowed from the FBI - these were forensic techniques, used, for example, to debunk the infamous 'Hitler Diaries'. So it turned out that there's certain kinds of chemicals called OBAs or optical brightening agents, which were put into photographic paper, only starting in 1955. And in fact, the Hines were chock-full of OBAs and Hine died in 1940. Confronted with the evidence,

Hine's former darkroom assistant, Walter Rosenblum, finally admitted to turning out the prints to profit from the market demand. Rosenblum was a master printer. The prints he made were of the finest quality, struck directly from the negatives Hine had exposed over 50 years before.

But the market was not impressed. A fake is a fake. If it's a baseball card, a painting or a photograph, they're...they're not correct. That history is important and now I have to show a very specific line of provenance - the picture started in the photographer's hands and went... and if there's a blank there I have to represent it as a blank. So when a rare vintage print with a perfect pedigree,

crafted by the photographer himself, is united with a stunning image, the market gets excited. That's what happened in 2006 when Sotheby's auctioned Edward Stiechen's 1904 masterpiece, 'The Pond - Moonlight'. This elaborate print is one of only three that Stiechen made. It may not be a one-off like the 'Mona Lisa' but for a photograph, it's pretty close. Lot number six, Edward Stiechen. 'The Pond - Moonlight'. $1 million.

$1.1 million $1.2 million. I've never sold anything for over $1 million before. $1.5 million. Not many people who do photo auctions have. $1.8 million. I thought in my own mind,

"What am I gonna do when I get to $1 million?" $1.9 million. But in the back of my mind I'd also asked myself, "What am I going to do if it goes to 2 million?" At 2.4 million, I want everybody to think hard.

LAUGHTER I was completely relaxed and having a great time and was able to wait and just let it happen. At 2.6 million, upfront, bidding at 2.6 million. At 2.6 million, are we all done? Last call. Going once...and twice. For 2.6 million, thank you. 2.6 million. APPLAUSE 'The Pond - Moonlight' is to date the most expensive photograph ever sold. Inevitably, the market has changed what it is to be a successful photographer

in ways great and small. Releasing a new body of work demands a whole lot more thought than in the days when William Klein casually handed out his prints. I've got one little spot... This is Alec Soth, a rising star in documentary photography.

His latest series is devoted to Niagara Falls and the people who are drawn there. What number was that 'Falls'? 02. 02? Today he is at his lab, approving prints before they're dispatched to his gallery and individual collectors.

OK, so I think we're good to go on this one. When I made the Niagara work, I was thinking about sad love songs. I was thinking of the whole project after a while as a sad love song. And there's something really sensual about a sad love song, it's like taking a bath. But when it comes to protecting the market value of his prints, Soth can't afford to be sentimental. Wouldn't you know it? Then there's a big one. It's too big. That wasn't the size that I... I mean, it doesn't look bad, right, but it's too big. Although technically perfect, the rogue print is now too valuable to survive. I've heard stories of people just grabbing prints out of the garbage from other labs and making copies and selling them on the streets,

which is pretty scary, so I always cut whatever is rejected in front of the client just so he knows that it's going straight into the garbage. Nowadays, great photographs are not only worth stealing, they are also worth fighting over. In October 1997, the Gagosian Art Gallery in New York introduced a new photographer to its fashionable clientele. Manhattan was a long way from Bamako in Mali,

where in the 1950s and early '60s Seydou Keita served a different kind of market.

By the '90s, he was long retired

but in his day he'd been a studio photographer of national renown. Seydou Keita was the place to go

if you wanted to have a beautiful image of yourself. That was the studio to go for the local bourgeoisie and even for the middle class who wanted to grow in the social level. Keita's studio had a ready supply of desirable props for clients to pose with, as if they were their own.

TRANSLATION: Bicycles, mopeds, cars. The props went from small to medium to large. Vespas were average but a car was a luxury. And he didn't just stop at one, he had lots,