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Neil takes you with him on an unforgettable journey, from your front door to the history beneath our feet - walking in the footsteps of our ancestors to discover what made them tick and how they made us who we are today. For new Vodcast every week check out Neil Oliver on Patreon - https://www.patreon.com/neiloliver The series Instagram account – Neil Oliver Love Letter And send any questions to – neiloliverpodcast@gmail.com See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
 
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In this episode Neil travels to the breathtakingly picturesque seaside side town of Lyme Regis. Sitting on the rugged Jurassic Coast the town was home to a determined, fearless woman called Mary Anning who battled the convention of the day to stake her claim in scientific history. The Jurassic coast is famous for fossil dinosaurs, Ichthyosaurs, Amm…
 
In this episode Neil strides across the beguilingly beautiful, wild Yorkshire moors to meet three sisters whose brilliance would shape and change the world of literature. Tough, strong-willed survivors, the Bronte sisters laid bare the crippling social conventions of the day with perfect prose. Their own lives were edged with hardship and tragedy, …
 
This week Neil spends time on one of the most notorious lighthouses in the world – a place with a profound sense of isolation and a dark history. The British Isles are home to an island race, and to survive and thrive its people have depended on a mastery of the seaways and protection from its dangerous coasts. Ever since King Henry VIII Britain ha…
 
In this episode we’re stepping aboard a legend. A ship built from 6,000 trees, 27 miles of rigging and 4 acres of sail. She fought in the American and French Revolutionary Wars and came to symbolise the Britain’s dominance of the world-ocean as she battled to keep them free. But it was in 1805, with Admiral Nelson at the helm, that she sailed into …
 
In this episode we’re walking with a hero of mine, Admiral Nelson – a man with a life full of high drama and adventure, violence and great passion. He was born near the North Norfolk coast in 1758, in the sleepy village of Burnham Thorpe. His father was the local parson and at the ripe old age of 12 he set off to join the Royal Navy and sail the wo…
 
In this episode Neil takes us on an emotional journey that affected hundreds of thousands of people and systematically destroyed an ancient way of life – the Highland Clearances. Driven by greed the aristocratic landowners brutally cleared people from what they claimed as their land and replaced them with sheep in one of the biggest mass movements …
 
In this episode Neil takes us to walk side by side with William Wilberforce, one of the unwavering bright lights who stove to abolish slavery in the British empire. Nations throughout history have plagued the world with this abhorrent trade, but the British took it to another level in the C18th, growing fat on the colossal profits to be made from A…
 
In this episode we join Neil in1796 as a heavily armed French invasion fleet is spotted off Fishguard in south-west Wales. Seven years earlier revolution had swept across France. Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette and a great swath of the French aristocracy found themselves on the sharp end of the guillotine. Europe’s royalty reeled in horror and Britain …
 
In this episode Neil takes us on a very personal journey around his old stomping ground, the Merchant City district in Glasgow. It was built by the mighty Glaswegian Tobacco Lords, men whose trading fortunes made them the Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates of their time. In the late C17th and into the C18th their trading ships ensured great wealth poured in…
 
In this episode Neil takes us to the beautiful coast of Cumbria as it’s attacked by a warship from the United States of America. Angry and dissatisfied with the punitive taxes and harsh rule of the British monarchy the people of America rise in rebellion. Intent on helping his new adopted country throw off the shackles of colonial rule, John Paul J…
 
In this episode we travel with Neil around the world with the words of Robert Burns, a poet and lyricist whose work has touch millions and directly helped to shape Neil’s own life. Robert Burns was born in Ayr, lived in Dumfries and went on to be the national bard of Scotland. His brilliant body of work stretches from Auld Lang Syne to his famous e…
 
In this episode Neil takes us to age simmering with the steadily building heat of technological change and advance. We stride across a landscape of great beauty, full of the things needed to kick start a profound transformation; the natural energy of powerful rivers, land rich with minerals, coal and iron ore. Here in Coalbrookdale, in Shropshire a…
 
In this episode Neil takes us to the top of one of Scotland’s most beautiful mountains – Schiehallion in Perthshire. Following in the footsteps of Isaac Newton and a group of intrepid C18th scientists we set off to the wonderful wilds of Rannoch moor to measure the weight of the world. To help support this podcast and get exclusive access to new vi…
 
In this episode Neil climbs the hill to the Royal Observatory and finds himself at the centre of time & place. Henry VIII’s hunting lodge where he kept his mistress of the moment once stood here. Then in 1675 Christopher Wren was commissioned to build the Royal Observatory in this spot, a building that stood at the forefront of astronomy and mappin…
 
In this podcast Neil enters a city fizzing with new idea. In the late C18th and early C19th Edinburgh was the beating heart at the centre of what many people have called the Scottish Enlightenment. The intellectual thinking generated here was recognised around the world with men and women of genius said to be on every street with new ways of thinki…
 
This week we’re setting sail on a legendary voyage of exploration with the greatest navigator ever to come out of the British Isles - Captain James Cook. We follow James from the beginning of his adventure, when he leaves his job as a grocers lad in Staithes and travels to the hauntingly beautiful port of Whitby to pursue his dreams of a life a sea…
 
In this podcast, it’s 1745 and we’re walking along the cobbled streets of a busy, bustling fishing port, off to buy groceries from a young lad named James Cook. Staring out at the sea every day from his shop window in Staithes, North Yorkshire the teenage grocers boy, James Cook, dreamt of future that would take him around the world. Staithes is a …
 
In this podcast I’m taking you to a place that’s part of my ‘origin myth’, it’s a location that witnessed a bloody and brutal battle which is famous around the world. As a wee lad, it was here, that I discovered many of my ancestors from Clan Cameron were killed and buried. This realisation clicked a switch in my young brain and I realised that if …
 
In this podcast we’re walking down the aisle with a couple who fought like cat and dog for years, but are now about to be joined in union. The Act of Union came into force in 1707 and England and Scotland were finally brought together by the pen and not the sword. The independent parliaments of Scotland & England were united and a prosperous new be…
 
In this podcast we’re landing in Lyme Regis with a swashbuckling Duke who is determined to be the King. Charles II’s eldest illegitimate son, James Scott, Duke of Monmouth, lands in the west country with a small army of soldiers intent on deposing his catholic uncle, King James II. The duke’s uprising gains momentum and his army swells to around 80…
 
In this podcast we’re travelling the sharp end of a war which ripped the British Isles apart. King Charles I went head to head with increasingly bold Parliamentarians. Bitter, internecine politics and deadly powerplays led to opposing armies being raised, and a bloody civil war swept across the whole of the British Isles. Families, neighbours and l…
 
In this podcast we’re teetering on the brink of a war that would rip the three kingdoms apart. In what is one of the most significant moments in Scottish history the National Covenant was born. King Charles I of England and Scotland, an imperious and domineering monarch, went heat to head with the Presbyterian Scots who were in no mood to listen to…
 
In this podcast we’re prowling the beautiful coves and bays of the Irish coast with Barberry Corsairs. On a dark night in 1631 a notorious Dutch pirate known as ‘Captain Murat’, who operated out of Morocco with the blessing of the Ottoman sultan in Istanbul, sailed ashore to Dunashad castle in Baltimore, County Cork. On this one fateful night Capta…
 
In this podcast Neil takes us to a place where all our modern senses and sterile sensibilities are thrown into shock. London at the turn of the C17th was a major metropolis, a city teeming with life, where pestilence and poverty sat cheek by jowl with great wealth and riches. A major industrial centre it was ripe with every stink of animal and huma…
 
In this podcast Neil takes us with him, setting foot into a building whose history is inextricably woven into the story of the British Isles. A landmark building, that’s as beautiful as it is beguiling. In 1944 General Dwight Eisenhower camped beside it and planned the D-Day landings, William Shakespeare and his troop of actors performed in it’s Gr…
 
This week we’re witnessing the final destructive crescendo that put paid to a powerful, but ill-fated invasion fleet bent on conquering England. Queen Elizabeth I stood firm against the mighty Spanish Armada, and the elemental forces of nature came to her assistance. The Spanish ships sent to invade England were bristling with the latest weapons of…
 
This week Neil takes us along an Elizabethan jetty to hear one of history’s great speeches. In 1588, as Sir Francis Drake sailed to meet the mighty Spanish Armada, Queen Elizabeth I travelled down the river Thames to Tilbury fort where she addressed her army. If the powerful Spanish force landed and invaded England these are the men who would defen…
 
This week Neil is taking us aboard the Golden Hind, a legendary ship that sailed around the world and into history. In 16th century Aldeburgh, which was then an important east-coast port, shipbuilders set to work building a vessel that was to have a profound influence on British history. Once completed and seaworthy Francis Drake and his crew climb…
 
This week Neil marches with us across the wild beauty of Northumberland to a battleground that broke Scotland’s heart. In 1513 Margaret Tudor watched as her husband, the glamours renaissance king, James IV of Scotland, set off to invade England and do battle with her brother, Henry VIII. When Henry invaded France James felt duty bound to honour the…
 
This Week Neil’s on his home turf delving into the deep history of one of the most glorious castles in the British Isles. They say Stirling castle is the silver brooch that hitches the Highlands of Scotland to the lowlands. Neil very much regards it as his personal touch stone. It’s a place that was already well trodden by our ancestors when the Ro…
 
This week Neil follows the money! By the C13th the Hanseatic League had crystalised its power base and was busy spinning lucrative trading routes right across northern Europe, from the Baltic to the British Isles. Neil travels to the Norfolk town of Kings Lynn, which thanks to the Hanseatic League became the third richest port in England. Two build…
 
This week, side by side with Neil, we’re striding across a vast, treacherous bay where one false move could see us paying for it with our lives. Almost 500 years ago, in 1548, the people of Morecambe Bay Sands asked for help, because crossing this vast tidal expanse was so treacherous many lives were being lost. The tides race across the sands fast…
 
This week Neil comes face to face with the mighty walls of an almost impregnable castle, which down through its history inspired many heroic ‘last stands’ and a song that famously features in one of Neil's favourite films. On the orders of Edward I, Harlech castle was built between 1283 and 1285 by James of St George a military engineer of unsurpas…
 
This week Neil steps into the middle of a brutal family feud - the Wars of the Roses. The warring family, the Plantagenets, have been described as ‘a race dipped in their own blood. The factions within the family and their unremitting quest for power and the English throne led to a civil-war that ripped England apart for 30 years and left tens of t…
 
This week Neil steps foot into Cambuskenneth Abbey, a place that was to prove crucial in the making of a legendary king - Robert the Bruce. The Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 was a defining moment in the long Wars of Scottish Independence. Overlooked by the mighty Stirling castle, which sits atop the crag and tail of an extinct volcano, is a low-lyi…
 
This week Neil’s journey takes us to one of the most beautiful glens in Scotland where we discover, what is believed to be, the oldest living thing in Europe - the Fortingall Yew. The legendary Fortingall Yew nestles at the eastern end of Glen Lyon – the glen which Sir Walter Scott called the ‘longest, loneliest and loveliest in Scotland’. Many exp…
 
This week Neil takes us to a place of legends, a place where, with a glint in his eye, he proudly tells us he was once the warm-up act to Bono and U2 on the Pyramid stage. Glastonbury Tor is a magical landscape shimmering with ancient traditions, beauty and horrors. It’s a place that has always been, and still feels ‘special, the air around it thic…
 
This week we travel with Neil to Angus where the glowing red eye of Arbroath Abbey casts a watchful look over us. It was here at the Abbey in 1320 that the Declaration of Arbroath was written, a revolutionary document whose words would resonate around the world. Drafted as a declaration of Scottish independence and a show of support for the celebra…
 
This week Neil takes us off the beaten track to St Nectan’s Glen in Cornwall. It’s one of a number of enchanted places that are dotted all over the British Isles, which have a real aura and presence around them. Shimmering with crystal clear waters and enclosed by cliffs coated with rich moss and ferns it’s a place that somehow manages to stop you …
 
This week Neil travels to an island at the heart of the British Isles. Snaefell is the highest mountain on the Isle of Man. On a clear day, from it’s peak, they say you can spin 360 degrees and see seven Kingdoms. The Isle of Man is at the geographical centre of the British Isles archipelago, but it’s a place apart. A constitutional anomaly that’s …
 
This week, Neil travels to see an iconic document that shook the world. In 1215 a battling king squared up to his rebellious barons in a power struggle produced Magna Carta and a new political order. A charter of rights that started to pin back the monarchy, Magna Carta declared not even a king is above the law. Never again would an English monarch…
 
This week Neil travels back in time, almost 1000 years, to what became the city of Durham and the construction of a majestic building whose beauty and power have resonated down through the centuries ever since – Durham cathedral. Our ancestors have always been driven by the need to build. In the years following the turn of the first millennium a gr…
 
This week Neil’s journey takes us in search of the battle whose ferocity, violence and savagery shocked the whole of the British Isles and shaped its borders for ever – the battle of Brunanburh. The repercussions from this momentous battle, fought in AD 937, have reverberated right up to the present day. Long remembered as the Great War this was th…
 
This week Neil takes us in search of the remains of one the greatest Kings ever to reign in the British Isles. Not far from Winchester’s city centre, in amongst modern residential streets, Neil is on the trail of the location where Alfred the Great’s bones were buried. Alfred the Great took on the Vikings and won. On the field of battle he was a br…
 
This week Neil takes us back in time to meet a king who stopped the Vikings in their tracks. Sitting in the Ashmolean museum in Oxford is a precious golden artefact called the Alfred Jewel, which is over a thousand years old and inscribed with the words, ‘Alfred ordered me made’. This jeweller’s masterpiece tells us so much about the man who commis…
 
This week Neil winters with the Great Heathen Army, the mighty Viking force that was poised, ready to sweep across the British Isles. After the Vikings defeated the powerful Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Mercia they chose to over-winter their army in its capital, Repton in Derbyshire. It was here they rested and recuperated, plotting and planning their ne…
 
This week Neil takes us with him to a place of stunning beauty with a dark and brutal past. For years the Vikings well-deserved reputation for violence and brutality left a bloody stain right across the British Isles. They were masters of devastating ‘hit-and-run’ attacks, then at the end of the ninth century things took a turn…. for the worse! Vik…
 
In this episode Neil takes us to an island stained with the first bloody fingerprints of an invader who would change the British Isles forever. Heading to the Northumberland coast, at low tide, Neil walks to the tidal island of Lindisfarne. During the 7th century this small island became home to a thriving priory that grew to be rich and famous aro…
 
This week, on his journey around the British Isles, Neil takes us to Northumberland to meet the legendary, King Arthur. Climbing the battlements of the imposing Bamburgh Castle, swirling with mist and myths, legends and history, Neil explores the legend of King Arthur, the fabled hero, who resonates with us still in the 21st Century. The site is he…
 
In this episode Neil’s journey takes us to a magical island where the landscape, the light and the very air you breath come together to soothe the soul. This week Neil sails from Oban, on the west coast of Scotland, to the island of Mull, from there he takes another boat to island of Iona. On the edge of the British Isles, Iona is steeped in ancien…
 
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