The BEST Episodes of A History of Scotland

Every episode ever - ranked by fan votes!

Last Updated: Aug 19, 2021

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Neil Oliver charts the birth and growth of the Scottish nation in this insightful new TV series, part of the Scotland's History season.

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The Last of the Free

#1 - The Last of the Free

Season 1 - Episode 1 - Aired Nov 9, 2008

At the dawn of the first millennia, there was no Scotland or England. In the first episode of this landmark series, Neil Oliver reveals the mystery of how the Gaelic Scottish Kingdom - Alba - was born, and why its role in one of the greatest battles ever fought on British soil defined the shape of Britain in the modern era.

star 8.32
117 votes
Bishop Makes King

#2 - Bishop Makes King

Season 1 - Episode 3 - Aired Nov 24, 2008

Robert Bruce's 22-year struggle to secure the Scots' independence is one of the most important chapters in Scotland's story. Neil Oliver explores the crucial role the Scottish church played in promoting the cause of Robert Bruce, how they launched repeated propaganda campaigns, both at home and abroad, and how the famous 1320 Declaration of Arbroath ultimately persuaded the Pope to finally recognise Scotland as an independent nation.

star 8.15
47 votes
Project Britain

#3 - Project Britain

Season 1 - Episode 5 - Aired Dec 8, 2008

Neil Oliver describes how the ambitions of two of Scotland's Stuart monarchs were the driving force that united two ancient enemies, and set them on the road to the Great Britain we know today. While Mary Queen of Scots plotted to usurp Elizabeth I and seize the throne of England, her son James dreamt of a more radical future: a Protestant Great Britain.

star 8.06
47 votes
The Hammers of the Scots

#4 - The Hammers of the Scots

Season 1 - Episode 2 - Aired Nov 16, 2008

Neil Oliver charts the 13th century story of the two ruthless men who helped transform the Gaelic kingdom of Alba into the Scotland we recognise today. While Alexander II forged Scotland in blood and violence, William Wallace's resistance to the nation-breaking King Edward I of England hammered national consciousness into the Scots.

star 8.06
53 votes
Project Scotland

#5 - Project Scotland

Season 2 - Episode 5 - Aired Dec 6, 2009

As a partner in the British Empire, Scotland began the 20th century with an advanced economy and a world-beating heavy industry. But in the closing decades its sense of Britishness was in doubt and a Scottish Parliament sat in Edinburgh for the first time since 1707. Charting Scotland's darkest century, Neil Oliver discovers a country driven to self-determination through a series of economic crises so deep that her most striking export became her own disillusioned population.

star 7.87
39 votes
God's Chosen People

#6 - God's Chosen People

Season 2 - Episode 1 - Aired Nov 8, 2009

Neil Oliver continues his journey through Scotland's past with the story of the Covenanters, whose profound religious beliefs were declared in the National Covenant of 1638. This document licensed revolution, started the Civil War that cost King Charles I his head, cost tens of thousands of Scots their lives and led to Britain's first war on terror.

star 7.78
41 votes
Let's Pretend

#7 - Let's Pretend

Season 2 - Episode 2 - Aired Nov 15, 2009

Bitterly divided by politics and religion for centuries, this is the infamous story of how Scotland and England came together in 1707 to form Great Britain. Over time the Union matured into one of the longest in European history, but it very nearly ended in divorce. Exploiting the Union's unpopularity, the exiled Stuarts staged several comebacks, selling themselves as a credible and liberal alternative to the Hanoverian regime. Neil Oliver reveals just how close they came to succeeding.

star 7.44
41 votes
Language is Power

#8 - Language is Power

Season 1 - Episode 4 - Aired Dec 1, 2008

At one time, Gaelic Scotland - the people and the language - was central to the collective identity of Scots. But as Neil Oliver reveals, Scotland's infamous Highland/Lowland divide was the result of a family struggle that divided the kingdom. This is the story of how the centralising policies of the Stewart royal family in the 15th century led to the Gaels being perceived as rebels and outsiders.

star 7.32
44 votes
The Price of Progress

#9 - The Price of Progress

Season 2 - Episode 3 - Aired Nov 22, 2009

Through the winning and losing of an American empire and the impact of the Scottish Enlightenment, Neil Oliver reveals how in the second half of the 18th century Scotland was transformed from a poor northern backwater with a serious image problem into one of the richest nations on Earth. This was the dawn of the modern age when Scotland made its mark on the world by exporting its most valuable commodities - its people and ideas.

star 7.30
40 votes
This Land Is Our Land

#10 - This Land Is Our Land

Season 2 - Episode 4 - Aired Nov 29, 2009

At the start of the 19th century, everything familiar was swept away. People fled from the countryside into the industrial towns of Scotland's central belt. Rural workers became factory workers - in some of the worst conditions in Europe. This new Scotland became a seedbed of revolution. But it wasn't just force that kept the Scottish people in their place, it was fantasy. Neil Oliver reveals how Sir Walter Scott created so powerful a myth, it haunts the Scots collective imagination to this day.

star 7.08
37 votes