Case study: Beat the Ancestors – Channel 5 TV series

Commissioned to design and build historic siege weapons

Beat the ancestors prop making


Dragonfly TV and Channel 5


Design, build historical weaponry such as trebuchet and a greek fire boat

Creative Fabrications founder Clare Grotefeld was headhunted to appear on the Channel 5 TV series ‘Beat the ancestors’,

Produced by Dragonfly Productions.

In the series the engineer and eco-warrior Dick Strawbridge challenges a team of modern-day engineers to rebuild some of history’s most impressive Siege weapons and machines. Using their 21st-century knowledge to fabricate each project in three days whilst improving their performance and accuracy. Episodes from the series, and clips of the show can be viewed on demand at:

Ancient genius is revealed and modern ingenuity tested as the team gets to work on a medieval machine gun, a Roman war machine, a Byzantine fire boat, a Gothic mega crane and Churchill’s rocket parachute.

Dick Strawbridge presents the series and acts as ringmaster at Build HQ. “Our ancestors have made us who we are today. This series allows us to celebrate those amazing people who changed the world into the one we now live in,” he says. “It’s great fun and a little scary. I love the fact that, if we are limited to the materials our forebears had, we really struggle to design and out-perform machines centuries-old, even with all our 21st century knowledge and skills.”

Meanwhile, the engineers grapple with historical blueprints, original building materials and whatever modern insights they can bring to the challenges set. At the end of three days, the new machines are put through a series of exacting tests. How will they compare to the originals?


More info on Beat the Ancestors:  trailer  machine gun test

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