Sky History's The River Hunters visit Yorkshire's Knaresborough Castle, River Nidd and River Swale

Knaresborough Castle was the site of a grisly battle in the 14th century. Now television experts have searched the river below in hope of new discoveries. Grace Hammond reports.

Knaresborough Castle and the River Nidd from above.
Knaresborough Castle and the River Nidd from above.

With a history as rich as Yorkshire’s, there was inevitably going to be some blood spilled along the way.

That’s why a team of television experts came to the region hoping to discover relics from battles held centuries ago.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The River Hunters is back on the small screen and exploring Britain to search the waterways of some of the country’s most important archaeological sites.

TV presenter Rick Edwards.

In episode six of the six-part series US YouTuber and river detectorist Beau Ouimette, TV presenter Rick Edwards and underwater archaeologist Gary Bankhead return to Yorkshire as they seek artefacts from the famous 14th century clashes between the English and the Scottish.

The search covers both the River Nidd and River Swale as they hunt for lost weaponry from the brutal battles in 1318 and 1319.

Among a number of discoveries, the group uncovers a lead token dating back to the 1300s and the time of the Scottish raiders.

The trio seek to unearth treasures from the rivers which have “borne witness to some of the most turbulent periods in history”.

Knaresborough Castle. Picture: Gerard Binks.

Using state-of-the-art underwater technology, live drone footage and accounts from the period, Beau and Rick perform the first underwater archeological digs in “some of the most exciting and iconic historical sites in Britain, often in dangerous and fast-flowing waters”.

To further their search, they are joined by local archaeologists, metal detectorists and historians in each episode, some of whom have waited years for the opportunity to search these historic sites.

Episode six will focus on Knaresborough Castle and the 14th Century Northern Raids when it airs on Monday May 10 at 9pm.

The final hunt of the series takes the team back to Yorkshire to search for relics from the “bloody and brutal” 14th century clashes between the English and the Scottish.

The search begins on the River Nidd, in the shadow of the mighty Knaresborough Castle, the site of an epic 1318 battle where “hundreds of raging Scots raided and plundered the town”, including the feared warrior known as ‘Black Douglas’, says Sky History.

With the river running through the centre of the battleground, the team search for lost weaponry and “pillaged riches”.

Speaking on the show about the castle, Edwards says: “Knaresborough Castle was a key military base for Edward II.

“First built in the 1100s, it was expanded at huge expense by Edward I.

“In 1312 his son, Edward II, finished the job with a 30-metre-wide moat, great halls and courthouse,

“Protected by hundreds of soldiers in its day, this grand design was intended to defend and impress in equal measure.

“The surrounding town was also an epicentre for trade and weapon production. No wonder the attacking Scots wanted a piece.”

He adds: “It might be scenic here now, but in 1318 it was a different story.”

Not stopping in Knaresborough, the River Hunters hosts venture to the River Swale, site of a gruesome showdown in 1319.

As Black Douglas attempted another assault, a band of English militia and monks were thrown together to stop the Scots heading further South in what became known as the White Battle.

Trawling the rivers with the help of local amateur detectorists and underwater archaeologist Gary Bankhead, the team uncover finds that could date back to the 14th century battle.

Sky History is available on Sky 123, Now TV, Virgin 270 and TalkTalk 327. All episodes will be available on catch-up services.