An epic movie about tribal Iron Age Britain is going to be filmed in Yorkshire

The three replica Iron Age longhouses at the Herd Farm outdoor activity centre near Leeds will be used as a film set
The three replica Iron Age longhouses at the Herd Farm outdoor activity centre near Leeds will be used as a film set
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Film producers will descend on an outdoor activity centre near Leeds to shoot a movie about an Iron Age tribe.

Brigantia, which is currently in pre-production, tells the story of the Brigantes, who were scattered across a wide geographical area that includes modern-day Yorkshire and who lived in Britain before the Roman occupation.

A Californian studio has confirmed that they will film scenes at the recreation of an Iron Age village at Herd Farm, an outdoor education centre run by Leeds City Council. The site near Eccup Reservoir has a converted 18th-century farmhouse and offers activity courses for schools, youth groups and workplaces. Director Thomas Bond has worked with Screen Yorkshire to secure use of the location for a 20-day shoot in autumn 2020.

The Druids Temple on the Swinton Park estate in the Dales - a folly built in the 19th century as an imitation of Stonehenge - will also be used.

The Iron Age hill fort in Yorkshire that was discovered by accident

Herd Farm, which also has residential accommodation, is home to three replica Iron Age longhouses which are used for archaeology classes and school visits.

Mr Bond, an independent film-maker who has also directed several productions about Native American history, plans to recruit local extras and feature several ancient sites in the low-budget movie.

"There's never been a film about the pre-Roman period in Britain before, which I find mind-boggling. This is very much a film about Yorkshire - the entire area was once controlled by powerful tribes. Herd Farm will be our main location.

"It has everything we need - the Iron Age village is absolutely authentic and has been used by BBC archaeology programmes before, and they have plenty of land for us to film on. We'll hold readings and auditions for small parts.

"We're also thinking of using Ilkley Moor, where there was an ancient village and where there are some small stone circles. The whole region is just littered with Iron Age mounds and circles, there are a lot of ancient sites."

The plot of Brigantia is centred on a present-day archaeologist who discovers an ancient village that reveals tantalising clues about the little-known history of Iron Age Britain. Other locations set to feature include the Scottish Crannog Centre, a living history museum on Loch Tay, and the Gilmerton Cove catacombs in Edinburgh. The crew have arranged to use horses supplied by the Exmoor Pony Project in Devon.

This holiday cottage has been named the best holiday let in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park

The movie stars Steve Huison, a Leeds-born actor who played Lomper in The Full Monty, as Captain Kynan. Huison's other TV credits include Heartbeat, The Royal, Peak Practice and Wire in the Blood. He now lives at Robin Hood's Bay in North Yorkshire.

Robert Powell, who has appeared in Holby City and Dalziel and Pascoe, will play a Druid called Uisneach. Scottish actor James Robinson, who played a 10-year-old William Wallace in the classic film Braveheart, is also part of the cast alongside Game of Thrones star Andy Beckwith, who played Rorge in the fantasy epic and who has also had roles in Pirates of the Caribbean and new period drama Belgravia.

James Phelps, who played Fred Weasley in the Harry Potter films, has been cast as a fisherman.

"It's a mini Spartacus, but based on Yorkshire! There's been a lot of interest in the US so far," added Mr Bond.

Who were the Brigantes?

They were a Celtic tribe who were first recorded by the Romans, although their presence long pre-dated the conquest of Britain. They were the largest tribe in Britain in terms of territory, and included sub-groups such as the Gabrantovices on the Yorkshire coast.

Their leaders were originally allies of the Romans, but dissent later broke out. Peace was restored and the defeated rebel leader, Caratacus, sought protection from a Brigantian queen, Cartimandua, but she handed him to the Romans as a prisoner. Her ex-husband Venutius later took up arms against the Romans and invaded her kingdom. The Romans sent troops to defend her, and the rebellion was put down. There was further unrest around a decade later, and the rebels succeeded in controlling the Brigantes' territory as the Romans could not commit the military resources needed to suppress another uprising.

It's thought that the Iron Age fortifications at Stanwick, which were first excavated in the 1950s, were Venutius's capital, although other experts have suggested they were an earlier power base for Cartimandua.

The Brigantes were not left in peace for long; there were further wars and rebellions, and Brigante attacks have even been cited as a possible explanation for the mysterious disappearance from official records of the Ninth Legion, who were stationed at York.

The main settlements in the Yorkshire part of Brigantia were at Catterick, Aldborough, Ilkley, York, Slack, Wincobank and Tadcaster. Isurium was the capital - it later became a Roman fort and today the site is near the village of Aldborough, near Harrogate, and protected by English Heritage as an ancient monument.

Brigante hill forts include Castle Hill at Almondbury, near Huddersfield, Hall Tower Hill at Barwick-in-Elmet, near Leeds, and Roulston Scar in the North York Moors.