Nowhere in the British Isles was the Viking connection longer-lasting or deeper than in Scotland. Hundreds of years after their first hit-and-run raids, the Norsemen still dominated huge swathes of the country. But storm clouds were gathering. In 1263 the Norwegian king Haakon IV assembled a fleet of 120 longships to counter Scottish raids on the Norse Hebrides. It was a force comparable in size to the Spanish Armada over three centuries later. But like the Armada, the Norse fleet was eventually defeated by a powerful storm. Driven ashore near present-day Largs, the beleaguered Norsemen were attacked by a Scottish army. The outcome of this vicious encounter would mark the beginning of the end of Norse power in Scotland. Marine archeologist Dr Jon Henderson tells the incredible story of the Norsemen in Scotland. Visiting fascinating archeological sites across Scotland and Norway, he reveals that, although the battle at Largs marked the end of an era for the Norsemen, their presence continued to shape the identity and culture of the Scottish nation to the present day.
2012 • History
Deciphering the meaning of strange symbols in Egyptian art gives insight into ancient knowledge of sacred cosmology. A new way of interpreting hieroglyphics is presented, indicating that the ancients had sophisticated understanding of physics, biology and celestial mechanics. The team goes on an expedition into the open desert in search of a remote site of extreme antiquity called nabta playa. Here, Neolithic stone circles were found marking the motion of the same stars as were tracked in pharonic civilization. The possible connection is discussed.
Neil Oliver reveals the truth behind the legend of the Vikings. (Part 2.) Neil Oliver heads out from the Scandinavian homelands to Russia, Turkey and Ireland to trace the beginnings of a vast trading empire that handled Chinese silks as adeptly as Pictish slaves. Neil discovers a world of 'starry-eyed maidens' and Buddhist statues that are a world away from our British experience of axe-wielding warriors, although it turns out that there were quite a few of those as well.
Neil follows the clans as they rallied behind Robert the Bruce in his against-all-odds bid to win Scotland's crown. After their crucial role in crushing the English at Bannockburn in 1314, Bruce rewarded the loyal chiefs with land and titles. They rise to shape the fate of kingdom in the centuries to come.
The end of the War in the Pacific is one of the greatest and most terrible tales of modern history. The Japanese fought to the bitter end and continued to fight island by island, hill by hill. US Air Force command tried bombing Japan into submission, firebombing Tokyo but could not break the Japanese resolve. Over 200,000 people died. In the end, President Truman decided to go nuclear and the fates of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were sealed.
Humans have depended on fire for millennia, but do we fully understand the impact it has had on our diet? When our hunter-gatherer ancestors learned to harness this tool, it ignited a culinary and cerebral revolution believed to be one of the most important factors in our evolution.