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.
By January 1916 the war had become a stalemate. Millions had died and yet no side had achieved a decisive breakthrough. Austria-Hungary tripled the size of its armies to five million men. Germany doubled its forces to seven million. And in Britain men were volunteering to fight at the rate of up to 33,000 a day.
In the second of this three-part series, Professor Robert Bartlett explores the impact of the Norman conquest of Britain and Ireland. Bartlett shows how William the Conqueror imposed a new aristocracy, savagely cut down opposition and built scores of castles and cathedrals to intimidate and control. He also commissioned the Domesday Book, the greatest national survey of England that had ever been attempted. England adapted to its new masters and both the language and culture were transformed as the Normans and the English intermarried. Bartlett shows how the political and cultural landscape of Scotland, Wales and Ireland were also forged by the Normans and argues that the Normans created the blueprint for colonialism in the modern world.
Europe has never experienced such a long period of peace and prosperity as after the Second World War. When the Iron Curtain fell in 1989, the dream of a Europe united in peace and freedom seemed to have finally to become a reality. But the clouds of nationalism have started to gather once again.