Mike Loades – Interviewee / Contributor

Historical Weapons Expert / Military Historian


Mike has developed a unique hands-on blend of interview and demonstration that combines exciting action images with gripping storytelling and solid facts.

While he is perfectly happy to give a straight, sit-down interview, his physical skills can give the sequence added authenticity.

His knowledge spans a broad range of historical periods and cultures.

Known predominantly for his expertise with and knowledge of historical weapons and military history, Mike can also speak on a wider range of historical subjects.

“Loades is so enthusiastic about medieval weaponry that he talks about it almost poetically…this passion is infectious…stylish and sincere…his skills are really quite impressive”                                                     The Sunday Telegraph


History by the Numbers Saloon Media for Curiosity Stream 2021

Interview about the Mongol Empire, its tactics, weaponry and systems

WIRED – Video Channel  2020

Interview about historical authenticity in video games

Battle of Gwiju – JTBC, South Korean Televison, 2019

Extended interview about the battle of Gwiju (1019) and the Goryeo/Khitan wars

Rome’s Chariot Superstar – Lion TV for Channel 4/ZDF/Smithsonian Networks, 2018

Testing and demonstrating an authentically-built Roman racing chariot, drawn by four horses. The horses were harnessed in an authentic Roman manner, ie without traces! The outside horses were attached only at the head. The front rail of the body of the chariot was an authentic height, no higher than the knees! However the platform was deep (as shown on mosaics). By experimenting with an exact replica Mike discovered that it was best to stand at the back , over the axle, in order to lift the weight off the horses. When he stumbled, he not only fell forward but also down – so the low rail at the front caught him perfectly well. Although it looked dangerous (theatrically so for the Circus Maximus) it turned out to be exactly the height it needed to be for all practical purposes. Only this sort of testing can reveal such things, which were not understood previously.

Unearthed 3 – Karnak – Windfall Films for The Science Channel, 2018

Demonstrating the issues of Egyptian chariot archery

Hannibal’s Elephant Army – Lion TV for Channel 4, 2017

Discussing Numidian cavalry tactics. The Numidians rode bareback and without bridles, throwing javelins in battle! They were also able to lay their horses down in ambush- the horse then sprang up with the riders on them. Mike demonstrated all this, while talking to camera at the same time. he also did a sit-down interview talking about the elephants and the logistics of crossing the Alps.

How The Silk Road Changed The World – NHNZ for CCTV and France 5,  2017

Demonstrating horse-archery, how composite bows were made, describing battle of Crécy and introduction of gunpowder to European battlefield, demonstrating evolution of the saddle and the stirrup, describing the battle of Carrie.

8 Days That Made Rome – October Films for Channel 5, 2017

Interview chats with Bettany Hughes discussing Hannibal, Battle of Zama, Spartacus, Battle of Philippi, Battle of Actium, Boudica

History of Violence – Storyhouse for ZDF, 2017

In this series for German television, Mike delivered demonstration sequences on the trebuchet, the sling, the war-hammer, the stink bomb, the pike,  the incendiary arrow, the pilum, the caltrop and Egyptian chariot archery

Chinese Chariots Revealed – NOVA PBS, 2016

In this exploration of the Chinese chariot Mike travelled to China to examine the archaeological evidence from recent excavations. He subsequently filmed in the UK where a replica Chinese chariot had been built, Mike drove the chariot over various terrains and also tested its battlefield application by shooting from it with both bow and crossbow. In addition he rode as a horse archer attacking the chariot to demonstrate the greater versatility of the ridden horse.

The History of the Horse – Equus Productions for Canadian TV, 2016

Mike drove, rode and shot in chariot sequences and horse-archery sequences for this landmark series.

The Celts – BBC, 2015

Mike appears in each of the three episodes, discussing with the presenter Neil Oliver, respectively the Battle of the Allia (387BC), The Siege of Alesia (52 BC) and the Battle of Watling Street (61AD). In episode three, he also drives the co-presenter, Alice Roberts, in a replica of a Celtic chariot.

Great Wall of China: The Hidden Story  – Lion Television for Channel 4, 2014

Mounted archery sequences. Demonstrating aspects of the composite bow and various shooting techniques. Looking at the defences of the Ming Wall, including the use of rock bombs and discussing enfilading. In the Gobi desert, showing construction techniques of the Han Wall and demonstrating Han signalling systems.

Neanderthal Apocalypse – Storyhouse Productions for History 2014

Comparing and testing the difference between using a thrown spear and a thrusting spear. Commenting on the hunting techniques of both Neanderthals and early man. Lab tests with air canon simulating the strength of Neanderthal man with a thrusting spear.

Ancient Impossible x 2 – Wild Dream Films for H2 2014

Interactive sequences on Archimedes’ steam canon, Ramses chariot factory and the Chinese repeating crossbow, including a challenge to compete for speed with the repeating crossbow against a Winchester .73 repeating rifle.

Emperor’s Ghost Army – Lion TV for NOVA and Channel 4 – 2013

Demonstrating and testing Qin dynasty crossbow. Demonstrating and comparing it to several types of European crossbow. Demonstrating use of Ji (Chinese halberd) and showing how it was used to defend against cavalry. General information about the Qin Empire, its military organisation and the terracotta warriors.

Beat the Ancestors – ‘Greek Fire’ – Dragonfly TV – Channel 5 – 2012

Explained principles of Greek fire and demonstrated the use of the ‘fustibal’ , a medieval staff-sling that was used to hurl ceramic pots of Greek fire.

How we Invented the Gun –  Nutopia for Discovery Channel – 2012

Interviewed about the first guns, the matchlock mechanism, rifling, the Tommy gun, and the AK-47.

Mankind Decoded: 12 x 30 mins – Nutopia for H2  – 2012

Interviewed across a range of subjects including: Farming and settlement, man’s relationship with the dog, copper smelting and casting, Thutmosis and Egyptian expansionism, communications in the Roman Empire, Reconquista of Spain, Conquistadors in the New World, Mongols, the Arms Race, military tactics of first Qin Emperor, Gunpowder weapons, The Age of Sail, Industrial Revolution, impact of the telegraph and the locomotive in the American Civil War.

Building Pharaoh’s Chariot – TV6 for Nova – 2012

Driving Egyptian chariot using ancient harness system, shooting bow from galloping chariot, throwing javelin from galloping chariot; demonstrating construction methods and materials of composite bow,  showing range of other Egyptian weapons, testing Egyptian style leather scale armour against penetration from bronze headed arrows. Filmed on location in Egypt.

The Varrus Disaster – E1 for History Canada  – 2012

Exploring the effects of severe storms on Roman military weapons and tactics in relation to the battle of Teutoberg Forest, in which 3 Roman legions were wiped out – in part reportedly because of the extreme weather. Tests including walking into a wind machine generating 100 mph gusts carrying a roman shield and shooting a bow, using a sling and throwing a pilum in these winds; scaling steep banks drenched with fire-hoses whilst wearing Roman sandals; also demonstrating the use of cavalry in forest ambush and demonstrating the use of Roman catapulta.

Mankind: The Story of All of Us: 6 x 120mins – Nutopia for History – 2012

Neolithic hunters in the Rift Valley, Bronze smelting, chariot warfare, battle of Meggido, the Sea Peoples, iron smelting, battle of Plataea, Spartan military culture, Qin dynasty crossbows, Roman military culture, the Crusades, Mongol horse archers, battle of Kaffa, Siege Engines, first guns, guns at Siege of Constantinople, Vikings in America,  Aztec weapons, Sir Francis Drake and the Golden Hinde, Samurai.

Viking Apocalypse – Lion Television for Nat Geo Channel – 2011

I was interviewed in a grave pit near Maiden Castle in Dorset amongst 50 decapitated skeletons before the bones were lifted. Subsequent carbon dating revealed the bones to be from the Viking period.

True Stories: ‘Braveheart’ – Blink Films for Smithsonian Channel/ Channel 5  2011

Sequence testing heavy bows (150/160lbs) with English Warbow Society against gambeson and riveted mail targets. Discussing armour of the period. Demonstrating sword training and test cutting with a war sword. Explaining how shiltrons worked against cavalry and telling the stories of Stirling Bridge and Falkirk.

Medieval Fight Book  – Wild Dream Films for Nat.Geo. Channel – 2011

I visited the Royal Library in Copenhagen to look at the 1459 Talhoffer manuscript. As well as featuring the work of the fightmaster Hans Talhoffer this manuscript also incorporated the work of the military engineer Konrad Keyser. Interpreting his extraordinary machines is the main focus of the show.

True Stories: ‘Pirates’ – Blink Films for Smithsonian Channel/ Channel 5  2010

Sequences firing canon to test effects of round-shot, bar-shot and chain-shot. A demonstration of boarding techniques, including rope-swinging. Mike also demonstrated the flintlock pistol, musket, blunderbuss and grenado; as well as showing how the smallsword, cutlass, boarding axe and belaying pin could be used in the close-quarter combat scenario of a confined deck-space.

The Real Robin Hood – Herzog – History Channel – 2010

Sequences about the longbow, 13th century weapons and warfare as well as a sequence comparing a warhorse with an ambler – the medieval travelling horse – and general observations about Robin Hood and outlawry.

The Japanese Bow – Parthenon Entertainment for Nat Geo 2008

Demonstrated shooting longbow from horse and comparative trials with longbow and yumi.

Mystery Files – Robin Hood     Parthenon Entertainment for Nat Geo 2008

Interview about Robin Hood and the Longbow

Ancient Discoveries  x 4      Wild Dream Films for THC 2008

Piece about castles, filmed at Caerphilly. Demonstration of shooting longbow through arrow-loops.

Piece on attack dogs in the Roman army. Filmed in Rome.

Tested a horo – Japanese arrow catcher and demonstrated Japanese horse archery.

Piece on the Walter de Millemete 1327 MS at Christ Church, Oxford and a reconstruction of the kite bombing depicted therein.

Ramses    Atlantic Productions for Nat Geo 2008

Piece on the Battle of Kadesh and demonstrations of chariot archery from both a Hittite and an Egyptian chariot.

Lost Treasures x 3    Planet X for Granada Tv 2008

Piece on King Arthur

Piece on Viking raid on Chester

Piece on Cromwell’s army

Weapons Connections  Flashback TV for Discovery Military Channel 2006

Interviews about development of armour, siege engines and firearms.

Last Voyage of Columbus  LionTelevision for THC 2006
Shot live rounds from an arquebus to test effect on a pig carcass. Demonstrated Caribbean archery with 5ft arrows and showed fighting techniques with Spanish swords and the Indian macana club.

Ancient Discoveries  Wild Dreams Films for History Channel 2006

(Prog 1 Ancient Egypt) Demonstrated how an Egyptian composite bow was made and tested how many arrows he could shoot into a target zone from a galloping chariot. The sequences were filmed in Jordan and he also coached two local stuntmen in Egyptian/Hittite fighting styles. In addition he told the story of the Battle of Qadesh.
(Prog 2 Ancient Greece) Expounded his theories about the wooden horse of Troy, using a scale model.

Digging For The Truth JMW Productions for History Channel 2006
Filmed in Egypt on the desert plateau just behind the Great Pyramid, Mike proved that it was possible for the pharaohs to drive a chariot solo and shoot a bow at the same time and hit the target! The reins are tied around the waist.

Lost Worlds – Athens Supercity Atlantic Productions for History Channel 2006
Demonstrated early Greek cavalry – bareback with two javelins + horse archery of the Scythians. Also demonstrated and explained phalanx formations and the use of the pike. Demonstrated use of slingshot and discussed organisation and recruitment patterns for Athenian and Spartan armies.

Modern Marvels – Barbarian Tech    Actuality Films for THC 2006
Interview about Iron Age chariots and warfare

Timewatch – The Crusaders Lost Fort  BBC 2005
Demonstrated weapons skills of the Faris (Saracen knight), including cutting a line of reeds with a sword at the gallop, lifting the top block from a pile of wooden blocks with a lance and horse archery. Also demonstrated the hand to hand fighting techniques of crusaders and Saracens.

China’s First Emperor Lion Television for Discovery 2005
Demonstrated the use of the Chinese crossbow, as found in the tomb of the Terracotta Warriors, which involved a 3 man team – one laying on his back to span it, another to load it and pass it and a third to shoot it. Also demonstrated Chinese sword technique on foot and from horseback.

Lost Treasures  Planet X Television for Granada TV  2005
PROG 1  Mike told the story of the 7th century battle between King Oswald of Northumbria and King Penda of Mercia and demonstrated the arms and armour and fighting tactics of the day.
PROG 4  Mike told the story of the battle of Brunanburgh (937 AD) and demonstrated Saxon and Viking fighting techniques
PROG 6  Mike demonstrated and explained the fighting equipment and techniques of the Roman army.

Helen of Troy   Lion Television for Channel 4  2004
On the plains of Troy in Turkey, Mike “road tested” two chariots – one Mycenaean and one Hittite. He drove both chariots, testing them for speed and manoeuvrability. He shot a bow from the galloping Mycenaean chariot and managed to get several hits (with rubber tipped arrows) on the shield of the warrior on the Hittite chariot, which he was pursuing. He “jousted” with a lance as the two chariots galloped towards each other (a Mycenaean wall painting shows a chariot mounted figure with a lance). He stood in the front line of a block of men as a chariot crashed through them. He demonstrated the technique of warriors being rescued by a chariot – jumping on it as it passed at the gallop in the middle of a battle.

He explained chariot battle tactics and the array of hand-to-hand weapons of the day, including sword, spear and sling. He told the story of the fight between Menelaus and Paris, whilst demonstrating the course of the combat.

Guns, Germs and Steel  Lion Television for Nat Geographic   2004
Mike demonstrated the 16th century rapier fight and explained the cultural significance of the rapier. He demonstrated the power of the Spanish warhorse and explained the psychological impact it had on the Incas.

Peasant’s Revolt Spire Films for Channel 4  2004
Mike rode with two companions from Canterbury to London. They used two different types of horses – modern breeds which had 4 gaits (walk, trot, canter, gallop) and Icelandic ponies which have a fifth gait (the amble). Ambling horses were the norm for medieval travel – it is a rapid gait but extremely comfortable for travelling long distances. Mike and his team found that they covered considerably more miles per hour using the ambling horses and with much less fatigue to horse and rider. He gave several interviews en route about the Revolt as well as demonstrating the types of weapons that the peasants would have been armed with. He rode onto the Woolwich ferry to illustrate their crossing of the Thames. Although much of the ride was on green routes, it inevitably involved a great deal of road work in built up areas. He crossed the Medway over the M2 motorway bridge! The ride concluded with Mike and his team entering the forecourt of the Savoy hotel – the site of the old Savoy Palace, which the peasants burned to the ground.

King Arthur Automat Pictures 2004
This was for the documentary segment of the DVD of the King Arthur movie. Mike demonstrated Romano/British cavalry warfare, riding in a Roman horned saddle, using the spatha and the contus. He also explained and demonstrated other 5th century military tactics, weapons and armour.

Ancient Surgery Cicada Films for Channel 4 2004
Mike demonstrated various weapons of the ancient world, discussing the sort of injuries they would produce. His sequences included test ‘cutting’ a pig carcass with a bronze sword.

Clash of the Generals  Shine Television for Discovery 2004
Filmed in Tunisia, Mike rode bareback over rocky terrain demonstrating the cavalry tactics of Alexander the Great and the use of the sarissa  – long cavalry lance. He also did a piece from the ruins of Carthage about Hannibal’s military tactics and other pieces about Roman fighting formations.

Britain’s Finest  Lion Television for Channel 5  2003
Ancient Monuments prog:  Piece from Maiden Castle about Iron Age hillforts.
Castle prog: Piece from Conway Castle about Edward I’s castles in Wales.

Machines That Time Forgot   Windfall Films for Channel 4 2002
Filmed in Turkey, Mike did several pieces about the Assyrians and their chariots. He road tested a 9th century two-horse chariot and a 7th century 4 horse chariot. In a chariot race through the streets of the village of Harran, Mike won, though his wheel disintegrated whilst sliding round a corner when filming the ‘cutaway’ sequence. He also demonstrated how the Assyrians first took to riding horses. They rode bareback in teams. The erstwhile chariot driver rode one horse while the former chariot archer rode another. The ‘driver’ held onto the reins of the archer’s horse and had complete control of it. The archer simply sat there, powerless to affect speed or direction, and shot his bow. Mike was on the archer’s horse as they clattered through pot-holed and rock-strewn terrain. He hit his mark but it is the scariest thing he has ever done.

Tales of the Bow  Alba Communications for Discovery 2002
Mike demonstrated horse archery and the battle tactics of the Huns. The Japanese bow and the Egyptian bow.

Tournament  Wall to Wall Television for Channel 4  2002
Mike was on screen throughout this programme teaching four novices to joust – a cowboy from Montana, a British army officer, a Scottish riding instructor and a mounted policeman from Washington DC. As well as recreating various original training exercises, he commentated on the progress of the contenders and did pieces about the history of jousting. He was master of ceremonies for the final competitive joust. The contenders had specially commissioned armour made for them and they jousted with solid wooden lances. The armour and solid lances had first been ‘safety tested’ by Mike.

Royal Deaths and Diseases Lion TV for Channel 4 2002
Mike explained the effect of arrows against armour and discussed the incident at the Battle of Shrewsbury where Henry V was shot in the face by an arrow. He also cut a full pig carcass clean in half with a medieval sword. Piece on the crossbow.

King Harold Spire Films for Channel 4 2002
He discussed King Harold’s battle tactics at Hastings and also dealt with his guerrilla campaigns in Wales

Castle Lion TV for Channel 4 2002
Mike demonstrated Norman cavalry tactics and explained the significance of Castles as cavalry bases. He discussed ‘knightly’ culture and galloped up the steep face of the mound of a Norman motte and bailey castle to test if such an attack were possible. It was.

Chariot Queen   BBC T.V. 2001
A British iron-age chariot was unearthed in Yorkshire in 2000, together with the skeleton of a woman. Mike was chosen to lead a team to reconstruct the chariot from the archaeological evidence. The programme followed him meeting with archaeologists, wheelwrights, harness makers, leather-workers, blacksmiths, bronze casters and horse trainers. He even mined for minerals to make paint from ochres, honey and chalk. He field-tested the chariot, driving it and throwing javelins at targets. The finished chariot was presented to The British Museum and as a publicity stunt, Mike drove the chariot from the museum to Hyde Park corner through the London rush hour traffic.

Boudica  Spire Films for Channel 4   2001
Mike demonstrated the weapons of both the Ancient Britain’s and the Romans and explained the tactics of both armies at Boudica’s final battle.

Meet The Ancestors   BBC T.V. 2000
In this investigation into the death of a bronze age warrior (spear tip broken off in his spine) Mike reconstructed how he thought the combat might have happened, given the archaeological evidence – angle of entry wound etc.

Celtic Myths   Electric Sky for History Channel  2000
Demonstrated various weapons and fighting styles of the Ancient Britons.

Spilt Blood  Carlton TV 1999
Told the story of the Maxwell/Johnstone blood feud and the origin of The Border Reivers. Filmed droving cattle from horseback with a lance and burning down a bothy. Also demonstrating the workings of a wheel-lock pistol.

Gladiators   BBC TV 1999
Demonstrated a variety of gladiatorial fighting techniques, including retiarius, (net and trident), dimacharius (two daggers), velites (spear), parmalarius (sword and buckler)

Warhorse  Sunstone Films 1998 for T.H.C.
Title sequence of mounted armoured knight depicted as stone statue coming to life

Prog 1. Drove replica of Tutankhamun’s chariot in front of the Pyramids and shot bow.
Prog 2. Piece about Norman fighting tactics at Hastings
Piece about medieval archery
Piece about wearing and fighting in plate armour
Prog 3. Piece about Polish Winged Hussars
Piece about Tartars – including lasso sequence and horse archery

Deadly Duels   Michael Hoff Productions 1996 for Discovery
Piece about wearing and fighting in armour

Crusades  BBC TV 1995
Piece on the Norman warhorse and piece on Saracen horse archery.


Mike reprised his role as an on-screen, in-studio commentator in the new series of this popular game show.

TIME COMMANDERS  BBC2  2003 / 2004

Mike did two series of this game show, where teams re-fight ancient battles, using state of the art CGI wargame technology. He was one of two on-screen expert commentators.

WARRIORS GAME  BBC Internet  2007

Mike appears, at the click of a mouse, as a provider of background information to this “shoot ‘em up” interactive video game about the Crusades.