Neil Oliver (born 21 February 1967) is a Scottish television presenter, freelance archaeologist, conservationist and author. He is best known as a presenter of several BBC historical and archaeological documentary series, including A History of Scotland, Vikings and Coast. In 2017 he was appointed president of the National Trust for Scotland.[2] His Scottish accent and long hair are distinguishing features.[3]

Neil Oliver
Neil Oliver at Windsor Quay (cropped).jpg
Oliver in 2006
Born (1967-02-21) 21 February 1967 (age 52)
Renfrewshire, Scotland [1]
OccupationTelevision presenter, author, archaeologist
Years active2002–present

Early life and educationEdit

Oliver was born in Renfrewshire and grew up in Ayr and Dumfries where he attended Dumfries Academy. He then attended the University of Glasgow to study archaeology. He obtained an MA in archaeology and worked as a freelance archaeologist, before training as a journalist.[4]


Oliver's television debut came in 2002 with BBC Two's Two Men in a Trench, which featured Oliver and close friend, Tony Pollard, visiting historic British battlefields and recreating the battle situations using state of the art archaeological techniques. In addition to the TV series, Oliver co-wrote the two accompanying books.

In 2005, he wrote a tie-in book for the Channel 4 documentary, Not Forgotten, which was presented by Ian Hislop. Oliver then became the archaeological and social history expert on Coast and in the next series he replaced Nicholas Crane as the show's main presenter and remained as such for the third and fourth series.

In 2006 Oliver appeared in two more documentary series, Channel 4's The Face of Britain and BBC Two's Scotland's History: The Top Ten. In August 2006 he also appeared on the special "Big Royal Dig" edition of Channel 4's Time Team, in which he presented a dig at Holyrood Palace.

Oliver was a contributor to BBC One's The One Show in the summer of 2007. He also appeared that year as one of the presenters of BBC Two series The History Detectives.

Oliver's series A History of Scotland began airing on 9 November 2008 on BBC One Scotland and was broadcast throughout the UK in 2009. The series also has links to radio, online and Open University materials. Like Coast, the programme is a co-production of the BBC and the Open University.[5]

On 23 March 2009, Neil Oliver presented a programme on Cleopatra on BBC One.

In February 2011 he presented A History of Ancient Britain on BBC Two.[6] This was followed later in the year by A History of Celtic Britain. He also provided the voice over for VisitScotland's 2011 television advertisement.[7] Oliver also hosted The Last Explorers, a four-episode series retracing the expeditions of four Scottish explorers (David Livingstone, William Speirs Bruce, John Muir, and Thomas Blake Glover) who planted ideas rather than flags, that screened on BBC for four weeks from 24 November 2011.

Oliver presented the three-part series Vikings 11 September 2012 – 25 September 2012.

Oliver presented the three-part series Sacred Wonders of Britain for BBC Two and Coast Australia, aired in 2013–14.

In 2015, he presented Britain's Deadliest Rail Disaster: Quintinshill about the Quintinshill rail disaster, which took place in 1915.

In 2015 he co-presented a 3-part BBC TV documentary with Alice Roberts, entitled The Celts: Blood, Iron and Sacrifice,[8] and the following year continued his Coast series with Coast New Zealand.

Neil Oliver also presented a BBC documentary called Scotland and the Klan, highlighting the Scottish/Northern Irish foundations of the Ku Klux Klan, originally aired in October 2016.

In December 2016, Oliver was involved in episode 2 of the Celebrity Series of Robot Wars, helping create a robot called "Soldier Ant", which he drove with his children. It won one game (on a judges' decision), but lost the other two on knockout and was eliminated.[9]

In 2017, Neil Oliver co-presented BBC 4's 3-part history series Britain's Ancient Capital: Secrets of Orkney. The other presenters were Chris Packham, Andy Torbet, and Shini Somara.

In December 2018 he presented BBC4's 3 part docu-drama series Rise of the Clans.[10]

Personal lifeEdit

He lives in Stirling[11] with his wife Trudi and their three children.[12] He is a patron of the Association of Lighthouse Keepers.[13]

In November 2011 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by the University of Abertay Dundee.[14]


In May 2014, Oliver stated in an interview with The Herald, that he was "proud of Britain" and noted his dislike of the forthcoming Scottish independence referendum saying that he found "this kind of internecine squabbling puts my teeth on edge. I would rather that it would just go away – or that it had never happened." He went on to say that he "liked the status quo."[15] When he was appointed President of the National Trust for Scotland, thousands signed petitions calling on him to resign.[16]


  • Master of Shadows (2015)
  • Vikings (2012)
  • A History of Ancient Britain (2011)
  • A History of Scotland (2009)
  • Amazing Tales for Making Men Out of Boys (2008)
  • Coast from the Air (2007)
  • Not Forgotten (2006)
  • Castles and Forts (with Simon Adams and Tony Pollard) (2006)
  • Two Men in a Trench II: Uncovering the Secrets of British Battlefields (with Tony Pollard) (2003)
  • Two Men in a Trench: Battlefield Archaeology – The Key to Unlocking the Past (with Tony Pollard) (2002)


  1. ^ "Neil Oliver on history, housewives and hair". The Herald. 19 September 2011. Archived from the original on 19 October 2011.
  2. ^ "National Trust for Scotland appoints Neil Oliver as president". BBC. Retrieved 30 September 2017.
  3. ^ "Coast Australia host Neil Oliver promises more in-depth stories for season two", Sydney Morning Herald, 15 January 2015. Accessed 19 March 2015
  4. ^ "Passed/failed: An education in the life of Neil Oliver, archaeologist and television presenter". The Independent. 13 November 2008.
  5. ^ BBC – Press Office – Celebrating Scotland's History
  6. ^ BBC – BBC Two Programmes – A History of Ancient Britain, Series 1, Episode 1
  7. ^ "eUpdate: New VisitScotland TV advert". VisitScotland. March 2011. Retrieved 9 July 2011.
  8. ^ "The Celts: Blood, Iron and Sacrifice". BBC. Retrieved 9 October 2015.
  9. ^
  10. ^ Didcock, Barry (9 December 2018). "A new telling of an old favourite". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  11. ^ The Sarah Millican Television Programme, 12 February 2013
  12. ^ A Life in the Day: Neil Oliver – Times Online
  13. ^ Association of Lighthouse Keepers
  14. ^ Tel: +44 (0)1382 308000 Ask a question (25 September 2009). "2012 | University of Abertay Dundee". Retrieved 17 September 2012.
  15. ^ The Herald (17 May 2014). "Neil Oliver on the search for the site of the Battle of Bannockburn". The Herald. Retrieved 17 May 2014.
  16. ^ Williams, Martin (1 October 2017). "Video: Hundreds back call to remove "divisive" Unionist TV star as National Trust for Scotland president". The Herald. Retrieved 2 October 2017.

External linksEdit