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A History Of Scotland -

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(generated from captions) Scotland... and still live. the country where I was born I've spent years as an archaeologist from her past. unearthing all sorts of treasures and magical place For me, it's an ancient of this country overwhelming, and I'll always find the beauty even humbling. that Scotland's popular history I've often thought always changing, is a bit like that landscape, often hidden by mists and low cloud impossibly romantic, and heroic characters. and, above all, packed with legends it's mythology... But that's not history, and present. And it's cursed Scotland's past shapes our view of today How we think about the past to find the real story of Scotland, so I want to look beyond the legends and it's every bit as thrilling. is about the birth of Scotland, This first episode far from inevitable. a birth that was the mountains and lochs behind me For many centuries of disparate peoples and tongues. were home to a patchwork again and again. It was a land invaded a loose collection of tribes So how was it that of Britain came together living in the northern third

distinct culture and identity? and built a kingdom with its own the shape A kingdom that would change and the destiny of Britain for ever.

So... where to begin? described in the written record The first people of Scotland to be they joined forces 2000 years ago from a Roman invasion. to defend their homeland they faced the Roman army. In the shadow of a great glen, The Caledonians fell silent... the earliest-named character From their ranks, out strode Calgacus, 'the swordsman'. of Scottish history... to speak to us from the past. He is the first Calgacus was the chosen one,

tribes of northern Britain the warrior whom the Caledonian hoped would lead them to victory. Defiant, proud, unbowed, against Roman tyranny. he struck the first blow He made a speech. of Britain's manhood, "We, the choicest flower in her most secret places. "were hidden away from the defilement of tyranny. "Out of sight, we were kept upon earth, the last of the free!" "We, the most distant dwellers They're not his words. There's just one problem. by a Roman historian, Tacitus, They were put into his mouth writing 20 years later. ever existed, Even if someone like Calgacus similar to Welsh he would have spoken a language Latin phrases of a Roman. and certainly not in the measured of Scottish history starts. This is where the mythologising recorded from those early times Be warned, almost everything is seen through the eyes of others. Tacitus had an agenda. and his three Roman legions General Agricola in the late summer of AD 84. had marched into north Britain as brave and heroic as possible, But to make Agricola appear to give him a formidable foe it was important which Tacitus duly did. in the Grampian Mountains, At a battle site with the Caledonian hordes he described the Roman encounter and their fierce leader Calgacus. with exchanges of missiles "The fighting began steadiness and skill "and the Britons showed both with their huge swords "in parrying our spears on their little shields "or catching them rained volleys on us." "while they themselves the Battle of Mons Graupius, He called it

though beyond his account, of it ever taking place. there's no other record in the Scottish Highlands But I think there was a battle that Tacitus couldn't have invented. because of one telling detail a triumph back in Rome, Agricola was given for a victorious general. the bombastic welcome certain... the Caledonians lost. And one other thing we know for reigned on every hand. "The next day an awful silence

houses smoking in the distance, "The hills were deserted, did not meet a soul." "and our scouts including Calgacus, Most of the Caledonians, into the trackless mountains. survived and escaped elusive warriors of north Britain. The Romans failed to tame the hit-and-run tactics, Frustrated by their withdrew to the south. the Roman legions By the next century, built from coast to coast, Hadrian's Wall, had become the line in the sand. roads, towns, villas. To the south lay Romanised Britain - like the Caledonians. To the north, a myriad of tribes a simple stone boundary. The wall wasn't just It was the end of the world. It was an ideological frontier.

where civilisation ended It drew the line and barbarism began. were very interested Not that the Caledonians benefits of Roman rule. in the so-called They had their own civilisation. To them it represented tyranny. For over three centuries, kept their independence secure the Caledonians and the Romans at bay. as the empire collapsed, Then in AD 409, from British shores altogether. they helped expel them crumbling ruins The Romans left behind the 'Picti'. and a new name for the Caledonians, We know them better as the Picts. The word means 'The Painted Ones', to cover their bodies with tattoos. but came to mean much more... The term started as a nickname, The term started as a nickname,

synonymous with pride. a powerful northern people with the same designs and symbols The Picts tattooed themselves used on their jewellery and stones. to be no wild barbarians. Artistic skills that showed them of early Pictish culture More evidence of Loch Tay. has come from the peaty waters Here, four metres down, remains of an ancient stronghold, archaeologists came across the and stumps. fragments of a thatched roof that once stood above the water. They were the stilts of a building lived and fought. A dwelling in which people loved, as it's called, By reconstructing the crannog

skilled and well-organised archaeologists realised just how Pictish society must have been. How do you build one of these? We had to learn from scratch, because obviously we hadn't got a tradition of building like this handed down to us from generation to generation. So you've got to line up your supplies, know how to cut down the trees, get them in the right place, and have the right manpower and skilled labour workforce. The people who built crannogs like this were affluent, they enjoyed a great diet, probably communicating and trading further afield.

Some of the little objects we found do not come from here, such as jet, which is commonly found from Whitby, north-east England, so... And one of the theories is it's a big house. This house could sustain maybe a family of 20, even up to 40 people, so if there were times of trouble, others supporting the community who were living in less secure housing could all come in and be secure in what effectively is a water castle. Crannogs have been found all over Scotland, many from the Pictish period. Their civilisation had put down roots. But then, centuries later, the Picts become the subject of one of the most intriguing mysteries of Dark Age Europe. They seem to disappear from history for ever. This vanishing act has given the Picts an aura of romance. They've become a legendary, almost alien people inhabiting a limbo world, part historical and part mythological. But like any good mystery story there's a twist. The Picts seem to disappear at the exact moment when the kingdom of Scotland is born. Understanding why the Picts vanished will give us the answer to how Scotland was created. Back in the 5th century this is what Scotland looked like, a patchwork of disparate ethnic groups. The Picts dominated the north and east. Welsh-speaking tribes, called the Britons, lived along the River Clyde and the south. And to the west, a new people had arrived... the Gaels. They were seafarers, originally from Ireland, who stayed and carved out their own territory.

The Gaels are the other key player in the birth of Scotland. The turbulent relationship between them and the Picts, sometimes allied but more often at war, form the backbone of our saga. Right at the heart of the Gaelic kingdom was the spectacular hill fort of Dunadd, rising up out of the great flatness of Moine Mhor, which means 'The Big Bog'. Brooding, menacing, Dunadd provided the perfect site for defending against attacks from the sea. This is the entrance to the fort and once upon a time this place was defended by walls 10 metres thick. It wasn't just one wall, there was a ring of four, each protecting the rising tiers of the fort up to a stone citadel at the top. Though the Gaels were as warlike as the Picts, there were clear differences. They had a separate culture and spoke a different language. And something even more striking... Gaelic art had a distinctive and delicate beauty all of its own.

At Dunadd, crucibles for melting gold have been unearthed along with the moulds to cast brooches. The abundance of such fine jewellery could mean just one thing... Dunadd was home to the kingdom's elite. The Gaelic kingdom was run from here and its kings were inaugurated in this place in a ceremony that literally married them to the land they ruled. For the crowds gathered below, in silhouette against the sky, the king would appear and at the appointed moment he would place one foot into this rock-cut footprint demonstrating to his subjects that this land was both his servant and his master. It's the end of the 6th century and this royal inauguration is unlike any that have gone before. Although the Picts continue to worship pagan gods, the Gaels have turned to Christianity. A spiritual invasion driving a wedge between them. And the monk who ordains the king? Columba. Columba, son of an Irish chieftain, had travelled from Ireland 10 years earlier. For his support of the Gaelic leaders, Columba was gifted a small but very beautiful island to the west of Dunadd. It's called Iona and here Columba was to found a monastery. Saint Columba is widely credited as the first missionary to bring Christianity to Scotland. And from here, on his new base on Iona, he's supposed to have converted all the peoples of this land and beyond to the new religion. But was it really that simple? What we know about Columba has come down to us from a later abbot of Iona, Adomnan, who wrote a hagiography entitled 'The Life of Saint Columba' about 100 years after his subject died. His book is more fairy tale than history and it has to be taken with a very large pinch of salt. (Woman sings) The Gaels were Christian long before Columba arrived. The hard graft had been done by numerous missionaries who'd travelled from Ireland and the Roman Empire. and largely anonymous. They remain unheralded and largely anonymous. But Columba's monastery on Iona, then just a collection of timber huts, soon became one of the most important Christian beacons in the whole of Dark Age Europe. The stability that he brought to the region, the fact that Christianity began to spread quickly through Scotland, I think was testimony to the fact that he had friends in high places. And he could also convey to the king and to other clan chiefs not just that his new religion was important but the benefits of it were worth having, the benefits of writing, this new technology, the benefits of scholarship, and that if the king embraced this,

then there was something in it for him. So do you think the pure ability to write would have been a magic that would have been central to what they were able to do? Well, it might have attracted your clan chief, you know. Yes, okay, here is this guy wanting to talk about the new religion, but if you've got writing, if you can actually articulate in a more permanent way what you've said or agreed you've got the basis of a legal system, you've got the basis of treaties with neighbouring clans, or kingdoms, you've got a clarity about thought and about what you want, and again it's about a power thing.

If you say something, here it is, it's in writing. You know, so I don't think it's quite as simple as simply saying he was going on a penitential journey. Something was in it for Columba but also for the people of this region. It sounds so opportunist in a way. I think it was, I think it was. Far from being an isolated island on the fringe of Europe, Iona lay at its spiritual heart. At its zenith, the monks of Iona created The Book of Kells. The workmanship was exquisite. Over 10,000 tiny red dots around a single capital letter. And the dyes came from halfway around the world, the blue of lapis lazuli from Afghanistan, yellow orpiment from the Mediterranean. A 12th-century scholar praised the artistry of the Book of Kells. He wrote... "You might believe it was the work of an angel "rather than a human being." Not everyone was so impressed by the word of God. While the Gaels had embraced Christianity even before Columba, their Pictish neighbours had remained resolutely pagan. They'd put their faith in druids rather than monks and relied on an oral tradition rather than the written word. Cue the most famous of Adomnan's tales... the account of St Columba's epic journey into the heart of darkness to convert the Picts. The Picts were notorious for headhunting. Columba must have known he was risking his. Undeterred, he made the perilous journey up the Great Glen and Loch Ness to meet one of the Pictish kings. Adomnan notes that Columba needed an interpreter even to speak with them. A battle of supernatural wills followed. On one side, Columba and his powerful voice, said to sound like thunder. In opposition, the druid of the Pictish king. It proved to be an uneven contest. Columba brought the druid close to death, and then in true Christian fashion, relented. Adomnan tells us that the druid lived. What he doesn't make explicit was that the Picts stubbornly clung to their pagan beliefs. It would take many decades It would take many decades and many more missionaries

before the Picts would begin to accept Christianity. The progress of their conversion can be read in their stones. Some of the best Pictish carvings

have been taken to a research building in Edinburgh. Here they're being preserved and studied using the latest technology. Individual marks in the stone can be isolated, telling us more about how they were carved, the technique and the tools used. The symbols on one stone are particularly fascinating for what they reveal about their changing beliefs. You can see how the stone carver has taken tremendous care not just in the accurate modelling of the animals but the way that they're coming out at us in sharp relief as well. This is by working away at the stones to reduce the background and to bring the figures out to the front. Just look at this hind here with the fawn interwoven through the legs, and he didn't have to do that, he made it difficult for himself, but it gives it a little bit of perspective and this is something they were very skilled at doing and they obviously took great pleasure in doing it. What about the other side, then? Well this is... This carver didn't confine his work to the secular...

he also demonstrated his love of God. Well, this is really to my mind, this is the front. The cross representing the embodiment of Christ, the promise of salvation is the key central message of Christianity being broadcast. So we have this wonderful interlace decoration filling the body of the cross. How unusual is it to get a stone that has everything in one package? There's the classic Pictish symbols, there's the hunting scenes and all the rest, and the cross. By this period we're getting into the later Pictish period. We've had maybe three or even four generations of large-scale conversion to Christianity by this time. Christianity was reasonably well embedded so we do see this quite happy combination

of the pure central message of Christianity in the cross coupled with the everyday scenes, with the animal scenes, with the images of people and symbols as well, of course. Christianity was the one invader that not only succeeded but that outstayed all the others. The Gaelic religion now spanned northern Britain and acted as glue, bringing together disparate peoples under the umbrella of the Christian religion. St Columba's biographer Adomnan spotted an opportunity. He succeeded in winning agreement from over 50 kings from Pictland to Ireland for an ambitious new law called The Law of the Innocents. It was a Geneva Convention for the Dark Ages, protecting women, children and monks in times of war. "Women may not be killed by a man in any way, "neither by slaughter nor by any other death, "nor by poison, nor in water, nor in fire, "nor by any beast, nor in a pit, nor by dogs, "but shall die in their own lawful bed." Life remained nasty, brutish and short, but Adomnan's rules on warfare were proof of the civilising influence of Christianity. For the first time, the Picts had embraced written laws within their society.

The Pictish tribes had it all... a sophisticated culture, powerful trade links and the bread basket of north Britain. Their fertile, low-lying homeland provided better harvests and more fighting men, but it also attracted the attention of others. By this time, the Angles dominated middle Britain. They were a Germanic people who'd carved out a powerful kingdom between the Humber and the Forth rivers, but now the Angles decided to push north. Rather than confront them immediately, the Pictish army drew the Angles further and further into hostile territory. The two forces clashed at Dun Nechtain, along the River Spey. The battle is commemorated here on this Pictish stone. It's a sort of Bayeux Tapestry. The fight was between bare-headed, long-haired Pictish warriors and Angles wearing distinctive metal helmets. It was a one-sided encounter. The ranks of Pictish spearmen drove the Angles into a loch and slaughtered them. pecking at the dead The final relief shows a raven pecking at the dead face of a fallen prince of the Angles. To defeat this new enemy from the south the Pictish tribes had been forced to unite, under the leadership of one king. The confederation also had a new name... Pictland. By pinpointing the location of all the Pictish stones it's possible to map out the territory of this young kingdom. The Picts had successfully driven the Angles back south, and one by one, they defeated their other neighbours. In the west both the Britons and the Gaels were overwhelmed. Although they retained their identity, they were forced to pay homage to the Pictish king. By the middle of the 8th century Pictland was the dominant kingdom of northern Britain. It seemed invincible. But the next wave of aggressors was a league apart... warriors with no time for Christian niceties. They worshipped the gods of war, Odin and Thor. There's a trend among some modern historians to portray the Vikings as a misunderstood bunch. Instead of bloodthirsty killers, think peaceful traders and farmers in search of new lands to colonise. But I don't think so.

Not all of them and certainly not all of the time. Accounts by British survivors of Viking attacks are unequivocal... These guys were after treasure and slaves. "The pagans came with a naval force to Britain

"and, spread on all sides like dire wolves, "robbed, tore and slaughtered not only beasts of burden, "sheep and oxen "but even priests and deacons and companies of monks and nuns." That description was a contemporary account of a Viking attack on a monastery in England. But the Vikings weren't choosy. They went wherever the treasure was. And although the monastery here on Iona was looted on three separate occasions,

it was the Northern Isles that bore the brunt. There's a treasure trove from AD 800 that tells its own story. These beautiful Pictish bowls and brooches were found under the floor of a medieval church on St Ninian's Isle in Shetland. Archaeologists believe that monks probably buried the silver in haste to hide it from a Viking raid. That no one returned to retrieve them is a sobering clue to what befell the monks. Vikings shipped their captives back to Scandinavia and then on to Constantinople where the slaves were exchanged for silver. As the Vikings' grip tightened, there were fewer smash-and-grab raids. They came to stay. They colonised parts of Ireland, Northumbria, and further north, the Hebrides and the territory of the Gaels. On Orkney and Shetland, it's believed they exterminated the Pictish men. This was ethnic cleansing... 9th-century style. SCREAMS Many of Shetland's inhabitants are proud descendants of the Vikings. At an annual boat-burning ritual called Up Helly Aa, they still celebrate their bloody heritage. This is what people living in Shetland today like to imagine their Viking ancestors looked like... fire-wielding pagan barbarians. And if you believe the words of the Viking sagas where they got that impression. it's clear to see where they got that impression. But take away the air of celebration and the pageantry and consider the horror of waking up one morning and watching this howling horde unload themselves from their dragon-headed longships onto the beach below your little stone cottage...

This is what the end of the world looks like, this is the end of everything you've ever known or held dear, unless of course, somebody somewhere can find a way to stop it. In rides Kenneth MacAlpin. He's one of Scottish history's great heroes. The champion who in AD 840 is supposed to have driven off the Vikings. This brave war leader appears to come from nowhere, stepping into the power vacuum created after the existing royal line is massacred by the Vikings. So it is that Kenneth MacAlpin unifies Scotland and is famously crowned her first king. If only history was that simple. The idea that Kenneth MacAlpin was the first king of Scotland is a myth that's persisted for centuries and one I remember hearing at school when I was a wee boy. But the historical records tell a different story. At the time of Kenneth MacAlpin, Scotland did not exist. It remained five separate peoples, the Angles, the Vikings, the Gaels, the Britons and the Picts. Each retained their own distinctive culture. What is more, records tell us that Kenneth MacAlpin and his immediate successors, were described as kings of Pictland, not Scotland. It's not until 40 years after Kenneth died

that we find the first mention of the kings of Scotland. So how did we get from Pictland to Scotland? There's one document that reveals the secret. It's one of the most precious manuscripts of Scottish history and the only contemporary Scottish chronicle that covers the period.

Historians feel that much of the document can be trusted because it can be cross-referenced with chronicles from other kingdoms. I'd expected to find it in an archive in Scotland... but I was wrong. Why is the manuscript here in Paris? (Speaks in French) The archivist Madame Laffitte told me that a French courtier brought a collection of important historical papers back from London

in the 17th century. Is it widely known that the manuscript is here? (Speaks in French) TRANSLATOR: It's not very well known. Only people who come and search for this topic matter specifically come, and she says it's even been put on slides so people can look at it. I see. What are the chances of it going to Scotland? Oh, absolutely no. (All laugh) The chronicle is basically a list, a list of 12 kings of the House of Alpin from the 9th to the 11th centuries. It's a complex document because it's been compiled and copied

and added to over the years by several unknown hands. It's important because it covers the moment of transition, the 10 or so years from 878 to 889 when all references to Pictland disappear and the kingdom of Scotland appears. This is Scotland's lost decade. Look at these two names... Aed and Giricium or Giric. Aed was Kenneth MacAlpin's youngest son. He'd inherited a kingdom in crisis. At the point he became king, the Vikings conquered Pictland. For two years they took cattle, slaves and tribute. Aed did little to stop them. When there was no more booty to be had, the Vikings moved on. Aed's kingdom lay in ruins. The writer of the Paris chronicle described his short reign as bequeathing "nothing memorable to history", a damning indictment indeed. So no surprise then when his own followers took action. This is where Giric comes into the story.

Giric was one of a number of Gaelic refugees who'd fled from the Vikings and headed east into Pictland.

Now he'd climbed his way up into Aed's favour. Giric was not of royal stock, but what he lacked in blue blood he made up for in ambition. Events come to a head at a sacred site in Perthshire. The year is 878. Aed is slain by his own henchmen. All the evidence points to Giric as the killer. Giric was on the make. His goal? The takeover of the Pictish kingdom. And if that meant taking out the useless Aed, then so be it. Giric instigated a regime change. He rid the court of his Pictish rivals and replaced them with his own men. Then he took control of the Pictish church by appointing a Gaelic bishop to reform it. This was a coup. Giric, a Gael, was turning the kingdom of the Picts into a Gaelic kingdom. To reinforce his political takeover he rewarded his Gaelic followers with Pictish land. But Giric's position was far from secure. Although he'd eliminated Aed, the two legitimate heirs, Aed's six-year-old son Constantine and his teenage cousin Donald still lived. Giric knew his kingship was unsafe while the two young boys while the two young boys remained potential rivals.

But Constantine and Donald were far beyond the reach of Giric. Their protectors had escorted them safely to Fort Aileach in the north of Ireland. It might seem strange to send two Pictish princes to a Gaelic country like Ireland especially given Giric's Gaelic connections, but they met a warm welcome at Aileach from their aunt. She was married to a powerful Irish king and for her, this was a matter not of politics but of kin. They grew up in the royal household. It was a Gaelic court and they became steeped in its culture and language. They were educated at a nearby monastery and attended a Gaelic church. Too young to challenge Giric, too young to be king of the Picts, the changes taking place in their homeland must have felt like a world away to the cousins. But as each year passed and adulthood approached, the moment to avenge the murder of Constantine's father edged ever closer. In the year 889, after a decade in exile, the two cousins were finally old enough to challenge Giric. Donald and Constantine sailed homeward. Revenge was in their hearts. To win back their kingdom, they knew they'd have to depose the usurper.

Giric had seen it coming and so had his supporters. He fled to his stronghold, here at Dundurn in Perthshire. In its day, this was a mighty hill fort with huge fortifications, but not enough to deter the cousins. The chronicle tells of an eclipse, an ill omen of the times. are vague on what happened next. are vague on what happened next. Typically, the historical records One chronicle reveals "In Dundurn the upright man was taken by death."

The archaeological evidence suggests a more violent end for Giric. Burnt timbers and arrow heads were found here at Dundurn and it's tempting to imagine that Giric died here in that moment, killed by Donald and Constantine. Between 2010 and 2013, Australia is moving to digital TV. This means the analog TV signals will be switched off region by region across the country. But don't wait till it's your turn. Most areas already have digital signals so get digital ready now and enjoy all the benefits straightaway. To find out how to get ready, website visit the web or call 1800 20 What's the bottom line on Nissan's End of Year Sale? No repayments until 2011. Like a funky Micra 5-door auto with dual airbags and MP3 player input from just $16,990 driveaway. Or a stylish Dualis ST hatch with 5-star ANCAP safety rating and bluetooth from just $26,990 driveaway. What's the bottom line? No repayments until 2011. Nissan. Shift the way you move. The kingdom was at a crossroads.

It could have gone either way, Pictish or Gaelic. Culture, language and church... everything was at stake. The Picts must have expected Donald and Constantine to reverse the Gaelic takeover. After all, Giric's rule had lasted just 10 years. But the royal heirs had changed. Donald and Constantine left as Pictish boys. They returned as Gaelic princes. Now Donald and Constantine viewed their homeland through different eyes. The Chronicle of the Kings shows us which way the wind is blowing. This word here is 'Albanian', a Gaelic word meaning Scotland, a brand-new name for the kingdom and of immense significance. With this one word right here Scotland is created. This is Scotland's birth certificate. This crucial moment of transition is backed up by the chronicle from Ireland. In the year 900 it has an entry recording Donald's death. He is 'King of Alba', the first king ever to be described as such, and he's followed by Constantine, also described as a Scottish king. Scotland became a Gaelic kingdom. Over the next few generations the Pictish way of life, the way they practised their religion, the stone carvings, and even their language, fell out of favour. Gaelic was the new language of power. There was no sudden genocide, but the cultural takeover was just as complete. In 906 Constantine arrived in Scone near Perth for an important new ceremony. Scone's a Gaelic word, and what happened here

would form the basis of all future coronations. Blessed by a Gaelic bishop, Constantine sat on a block of stone. It no doubt harked back to the footprint ceremony of Dunadd from long before. It's better known as the Stone of Destiny. For centuries afterwards and right up to the present day, it's been used in the inauguration of monarchs. Now the original is on display in Edinburgh Castle. It's just a simple block of red sandstone and yet it's been fought over, mythologised and romanticised and it will crop up again and again in Scotland's story. Although Constantine now appeared to hold sway over most of north Britain the young kingdom's survival was touch and go from the outset, for just as Scotland was forming, another power bloc to the south had come of age at almost exactly the same time. This kingdom would prove to be Scotland's most persistent foe of all. Angle-land was ruled by an Anglo-Saxon king called Athelstan. He'd driven the Vikings out of Northumbria and by incorporating this territory, had secured a new northern boundary. But Angle-land, or England as it became known,

was not enough for Athelstan. Admirer of the Romans, he aspired to rule the whole of Britain. He decided to carry on where the Romans left off. He marched north. Like Calgacus nearly 900 years before, Constantine faced a stark choice. Tackle Athelstan in battle and risk annihilation or surrender the kingship of Scotland. Neither outcome was acceptable, but Constantine came up with a third option. And this is it, the awesome rock fortress of Dunnottar. Here Constantine and his war ban Here Constantine and his war band were hemmed in,

but Athelstan couldn't capture the stronghold itself and so he and Constantine came to terms. Constantine could keep his status as king of Scotland, but Athelstan would be his overlord. In agreeing to this, Constantine saved Scotland and his own neck but to the young aspiring leaders at his court, he'd sold out. So the next time Athelstan commanded him to submit, he refused to obey. Subservience wasn't Constantine's style... particularly when both he and the young kingdom of Scots had come so far. What he did next would have been unthinkable a few decades previously, he made peace with the pagan Vikings. Partly motivated by a sense of "united we stand, divided we fall", more importantly, the Viking king had lost territories to Athelstan and he wanted them back.

Together they forged a northern alliance and in 937 Constantine headed south for a decisive confrontation. At stake was the very future of the island of Britain. On one side advanced Athelstan, the Anglo Saxon ruler of all England. On the other, the northern alliance. The king of the Britons, the king of the Vikings from across the Irish Sea, and the king of Scotland, Constantine. The many armies, tens of thousands of warriors, clashed at a site known as Brunanburh where the Mersey Estuary enters the sea. For decades afterwards, it was simply called 'The Great Battle'. This was the mother of all Dark Age bloodbaths and would define the shape of Britain into the modern era. An Anglo-Saxon account of the battle reads... "They clove the shield wall, "hewed the war lindens with hammered blades. "The foe fell back, "the folk of the Scots and the ship fleet fell death-doomed. "The field was slippery with the blood of warriors. "The West Saxons in companies, "hewed the fugitives from behind cruelly with swords mill-sharpened." The fighting went on from dawn until dusk. When it was over, the field was littered with the dead and the dying, picked over by wolves and carrion crows. Vikings, Saxons, Britons and Welshmen, Gaels from Ireland, Northumbrians, even Icelanders. Amid the corpses of the men of Scotland was Constantine's eldest son... all slain to settle the matter of Britain. Although Athelstan emerged victorious, of the northern alliance the resistance of the northern alliance had put an end to his dream of conquering the whole of Britain. Constantine meanwhile escaped back to his homeland with the remains of his battered army. This had been a battle for Britain, one of the most important battles in British history, comparable to Hastings, and yet today few people have even heard of it. 937 doesn't quite have the ring of 1066, and yet Brunanburh was about much more than just blood and conquest. This was a showdown between two very different ethnic identities... a Norse-Celtic alliance versus Anglo-Saxon. It aimed to settle once and for all whether Britain would be controlled by a single imperial power or remain several separate, independent kingdoms, a split in perceptions which, like it or not, is still with us today. And as for King Constantine?

From exile to Ireland as a young boy, the murder of Giric at Dundurn, his crowning at Scone, his short subservience to the English king, the battle of Brunanburh and the saving of Scotland, there was much for the battle-scarred warrior to reflect upon. Kenneth MacAlpin founded the Scottish royal line

as an opportunistic Pictish warlord, but it was his grandson Constantine who secured the kingdom and during his long reign of 43 years, ensured its survival. Scotland stands as testament to Constantine's political astuteness and staying power. And then, remarkably, he relinquished his kingship. In an age characterised by brutal murders and takeovers, he retired. HERALDIC CHOIR Religion had always played an important part of his life as king. Now Constantine, sharing the name of the Roman emperor who'd first embraced Christianity, moved it centre stage.

St Andrews had become the religious capital of his new kingdom and so he came here in AD 943, just six years after the greatest battle of his life. He ended his days leading a humble, almost hermit-like existence, in a cave near St Andrews, as a holy man. And what of the Picts? An English historian, the Archdeacon of Huntingdon, writing just 200 years later in 1140, commented that "We see that the Picts have now been wiped out "and their language also is totally destroyed "so that they seem to be a fable we find mentioned in old writings." The Archdeacon was wrong. As we've seen all along, so much of these early years was seen through the eyes of others. The Picts weren't wiped out. With the Gaels, they fused together in the fires of adversity and re-branded themselves as Scots. The hybrid kingdom of Alba was now home to a restless people, and as for the fully-formed country we would recognise as Scotland, the story had only just begun. Captions (c) SBS Australia 2009