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A History of Scotland [DVD]

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Product details

  • Actors: Neil Oliver, Annette Westwood
  • Directors: Andrew Downes, Bill MacLeod, Clara Glynn, Sarah Barclay, Tim Neil
  • Producers: Clara Glynn, Sarah Barclay, Tim Niel, Catherine McCarthy, Katy Homan
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 5
  • Classification: 12
  • Studio: 2entertain
  • DVD Release Date: 8 Feb. 2010
  • Run Time: 600 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (126 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,150 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Neil Oliver, archaeologist, broadcaster and charismatic presenter of the award-winning documentary series Coast, charts the birth and growth of the Scottish nation in a compelling and comprehensive series.

In ten thought-provoking, episodes Neil Oliver brings a fresh perspective to Scotland’s past and challenges many of the perceived notions of Scottish history. With stunning, BAFTA-winning cinematography and mesmerising narrative the series tells of battles and allegiances, political intrigue and religious conflict.

The series charts the journey from the diverse tribes’ first stirrings of identity around 2,000 years ago through to devolution and the reopening of the Scottish Parliament. It reveals the fascinating struggles, power brokers, incidents and characters across the years from William Wallace, Robert the Bruce and Sir Walter Scott to the Highland-lowland rivalry, the Covenanters, the Darien disaster and the tobacco lords. Using the very latest in historical research, A History of Scotland is a sweeping and insightful chronicle of an often turbulent, but continuingly fascinating, nation.

Bonus Feature: How the Celts Saved Britain -- A provocative two-part documentary presented by Dan Snow.
Accompanying booklet -- Includes a 24-page booklet containing historical facts and striking images of Scottish landmarks.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

148 of 151 people found the following review helpful By Blackhorse47 on 8 Nov. 2009
Format: DVD
This historical documentary series has a tough agenda of explaining in a few episodes around a thousand years of Scotland's history. And the approach taken received criticism, although I think that was unfair.

It was said that the series was superficial. This is an obvious point as every episode contains enough material for a 13 part tv series, but the aim was clearly to give a brief overview and in that the show succeeds. It was also said that the series looked too much at the English-side of events. Again I don't feel that's fair. Pretty much every tv show featuring Scotland gets that criticism thrown at it, and besides, much of the history of the UK does involve England. English history has to be covered to provide a context or you're just left with lots of squabbling clan leaders. And finally it was criticised for historical inaccuracies. I'm not knowledgeable enough to know what they are, but if they do exist, then to my mind the history as presented was already messy and if they glossed over events for clarity, that was to the good.

What we do have is a solid introduction to a subject that makes interesting the long history of the kings of Scotland, which for me previously had just consisted of names without any knowledge of who they were or what they did. Enjoying the show is easier if you like Neil Oliver's presenting style of walking quickly along windswept moors talking over his shoulder, and for me he brings the right level of authority, even if he isn't an historian. The only thing I didn't enjoy was the intrusive historical re-enactments and dramatic techniques. The events are dramatic enough without interludes that are neither well acted or add anything that couldn't be conveyed in words. That aside, I enjoyed this series and afterwards I was often moved to seek out more details on the events covered, which as far as I was concerned was the whole point of the show.
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56 of 57 people found the following review helpful By N. Cooper on 18 April 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Neil Oliver's History of Scotland was absolutely enthralling and interesting from beginning to end. Visually, the series is stunning with wonderful landscapes, cities and historic buildings.The music perfectly complements and enhances the whole- and unlike many modern documentary series, the music did not drown out the narration. The dramatisations were not intrusive but added to the visualisation of the people and the periods. Neil Oliver clearly explains a long and complex social, cultural and political history and his constant appearances are not intrusive but add to the intensity of the story. His quirky little asides add a lovely element of Scottishness. The second half of the series from the Union of the Crowns to the present day clarified a period which though closer to our own has always seemed remote and unknown even to Scots, probably because it does not have the romantic elements associated with earlier Scottish history that we all cling to and enjoy.
I would recommend this to Scots who would like to better understand their history and to non-Scots who have very little knowledge of the long and rich history of this nation.
I saw the first part of the series on Australian tv and it was much admired and enjoyed by Australians.
Neil Oliver has done for Scottish History what David Attenborough has done for Natural History!
Can't wait for his next production.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By John Sheldon on 16 Oct. 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is first-class production of the high standard that we have come to expect from
The BBC. Historian Neil Oliver skillfully navigates us through the highlands and lowlands
,the places and faces that have shaped the country's history with all its triumphs and defeats,
beauty and brutality in the stuggle for independance. He peirces the veils of myth and
legend to bare the sometimes shocking truth whilst still keeping up the excitement
and romance. At once. Both educational and entertaining. He tells the story with
doses of dry scottish wit and obvious patriotism for his native land yet maintains the
objectivity of the professional historian.
The cinematography is excitingly innovative.At first I was somewhat irritated by the out-of-focus close-ups but this is far out-weighed later by the spectacular scenic
shots and incredible stop-motion sequences.
The musical score by Paul Leonard-Morgan is just brilliant and perfectly
mirrors the ever-changing moods of ther narrative and scenery.
In fact I loved it so much I bought the CD!
All in all, a real bargain in its 10 hourlong episodes.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
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47 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Mr. J. M. Molloy on 8 Dec. 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Ive watched this series all the way from episode one back in 2008 and as im about to watch the final epoisode on Iplayer i feel its time I said how great its been to watch thjis series, and how its told me enough to make me want to find out more about scotland.
all to often history on tv is portrayed in dull period reenactments, and yes theres been lots of this on here too...but instead of it being the way the storys told, its neil olivers great narritive that pulls you along with every event you see.
A god series should tell you the facts, a good amount of background but not over whelme you so as you think you know everything......I was facinated to relaise how scotland had a part in the american consitition, I never knew that before.
In conclusion then, this has been a pleasure to fact ill feel a tinge of sadness watching the final part..but the box set will be on my list of things to be next year and I suggest you do the same too.
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