Wall Has Place in Neil's Heart; Popular Archaeologist Neil Oliver Has Identified Hadrian's Wall as His Favourite Place. the Journal's Ben Guy Finds out Why

Article excerpt

HISTORY expert and television presenter Neil Oliver is wellknown for skirting the coastline of Britain in the television series Coast, but in a programme tonight he chooses somewhere further inland as his top historical location.

The celebrity archaeologist has chosen a North East landmark as his favourite place, highlighting Hadrian's Wall as the place he most likes to visit.

He said: "As an archaeologist I appreciate it as the most elaborate part of the boundary of the Roman empire anywhere in the world.

"They went to more trouble to underline their presence in that part of the British Isles than anywhere else, and in that way it is a landmark superior to any other in the Roman world.

"And being from Dumfries I remember going on family days out and school trips, so it is a vein that runs through my interest in history and archaeology."

The programme is one of a series entitled My Favourite Place, which feature personalities taking viewers on a tour of their favourite English Heritage properties around the country.

In the programme Neil examines the history of the Wall, and the relevance of the decisions the Romans made to modern-day Britain.

He said: "The Romans shaped so much of what we now know as England and Scotland.

"The Wall doesn't represent the border between the two countries, but the fact that they drew the line so close to it nearly 2,000 years ago is clearly significant."

And he said it wasn't just the geographical significance of the site that makes it special, as the discovery of the tablets at Vindolanda gives a real insight into the lives of people living in and around the Wall during that era.

The tablets are a series of letters written on wooden or wax bases by Romans, which have been discovered at the site in recent years.

Neil added: "The letters bring it to life and it makes it fascinating to speculate on how life was.

"In them you read of people complaining about the roads.

"You normally associate the Romans with the roads they built, so to hear them complaining about the quality of the roads in the letters is really interesting."

On top of the historical interest of the wall, Neil said the scenery surrounding the site added to the allure of the area. …