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Title: Scotland's Essential History
Channel Transmitted: BBC Scotland
Category: Documentary / Educational
We join Scottish archaeologist and historian Neil Oliver on a revealing journey through the history of one of the world’s oldest nations. The programme is based upon interviews with Scots from all walks of life; the participants were asked what events they feel have shaped their nation. From Robert Bruce and Bannockburn to Adam Smith and the Scottish Enlightenment, this is Scotland’s essential history.
A plethora of experts are on board to help Neil in his travels through the thousands of years of human drama which have been played out on the northwest fringe of Europe. Firstly, Doctor Fiona Watson offers us an invaluable insight into the Wars of Independence. The bloody struggles stemmed from Scottish resistance to English monarch Edward I’s takeover attempt.
Watson glimpses into the lives of William Wallace and Robert Bruce, and recounts the dramatic events of the Battle of Bannockburn. She explains how the story of a small nation fighting for independence against a larger aggressor is a tale that transcends time and place – and one which placed Scotland on the international map.
The Declaration of Scottish Independence, signed at Arbroath in the fourteenth century, is discussed by Professor Ted Cowan. He suggests that the document was the first articulation in Europe of the idea of ‘sovereignty of the people’, a concept which lies at the heart of all modern constitutionalism.
Radio Four presenter James Naughtie provides us with an impressive insight into the Scottish Enlightenment, revealing how Adam Smith and David Hume revolutionised economic and philosophical thought in the eighteenth century.
Elsewhere in the programme, Doctor Katie Stevenson visits Stirling Castle, where she talks about the Renaissance court of James IV and James V, revealing how the two kings transformed Scotland from a provincial backwater to a thriving cultural hub. A host of Scottish inventors, writers and scientists also come under the microscope, including the towering and inspirational figure of Robert Burns.
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