Dave Musgrove Interview

Dave Musgrove is the editor of the top selling "BBC History Magazine", and is also the author of 100 Places That Made Britain , released in 2011.

hfk: Thanks for agreeing to speak to us. Can you tell us a little about the book please?

DM: The idea was simple: I asked 100 historians to each nominate one place In Britain that they considered to be particularly significant historically, and to tell me why. Armed with their insight, I visited each place and wrote an account of why it mattered then and what it’s like to visit now.

hfk: So if you did not choose the 100 yourself, were there any choices you disagreed with, or any omissions that disappointed you?

DM: The nominations were made by historians (excepting one choice that I allowed myself – I chose Bosworth Battlefield). There weren’t any choices that I particularly disagreed with, but of course there were many notable omissions. Particularly, the book starts with the arrival of the Romans, so none of our fabulous prehistoric sites are included (that means no Stonehenge or Skara Brae for example- fabulous places to visit and amazing stories to be told, perhaps there’s another book in it). Prehistoric sites are always great places to visit with kids I think as they are invariably out in the open, and with lots of space to burn off energy

hfk: I understand you visited all 100 places with your children. Can you tell me which places they enjoyed visiting most, and which of them you think taught them the most.

DM: I visited quite a few of the places with my children, but not all of them. Those that were notable successes with the kids were ones that provided most space for running around I suppose (my three children were all under three when I was doing the research for this). Vindolanda was great – lots of small walls to sneak around behind, plus the reconstructed section of fort was fun to climb up; Battle Abbey was enjoyable for a long walk in the rain, lots of puddles to splash in; Iona Abbey involved an exciting ferry crossing and then afforded an opportunity to play on the beach near the abbey; Whitby Abbey provided the background for a good game of hide and seek, and Hatfield House was particularly good as it had a great play area in the grounds of the Elizabethan mansion.

hfk: I would have chosen the SS Great Britain in Bristol. It is amazing what they have done there.

DM: The SS GB is in the list.

hfk: Which of the 100 places surprised you most?

DM: Longthorpe Tower in Peterborough was a real treat – a medieval tower in an otherwise innocuous suburb of Peterborough. Inside is an absolute treasure of medieval wall paintings that really strikes home the point about how different people in the Middle Ages were from us today.

hfk: Do your children share your love of history? Any tips on building enthusiasm in the little ones?

DM: They are still pretty young yet but I’m hopeful they will. They regularly talk fondly of visiting castles. I think the important thing is to not overload them and visit places that have space to explore and run around, where the history might become part of the games.

hfk: Thanks very much for your time. Good luck with the book.

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