Saint Alban (03:26)
Hertfordshire residents commemorate Britain's first Christian martyr. In this film, Neil Oliver will examine the religion's development from the Roman withdrawal until Henry VIII.
After Roman withdrawal, Britain fell into a religious blackout. Neil visits the island where Scottish kings have been buried for centuries.
Saint Columba (04:22)
In 560, an Irish prince landed on Iona, starting a symbiosis between rulers and the church. His monastery vallum provided sanctuary and he attracted converts by promising heaven.
Bay of the Ruins (03:17)
Neil visits a site where Iona's monks practiced austerity. Irish monasticism originated in Egypt and Sinai as a reaction to church corruption.
Pilgrimage to Iona (01:21)
Columba's grave attracted Scottish kings as a route to heaven. Wandering monks were enchanted by the island's beauty.
Saint Cuthbert rests in Durham Cathedral. His story begins with Aidan, who traveled from Iona to the Holy Island in 634 to convert Saxons.
Lindisfarne Gospels (03:22)
The illuminated manuscript was created in the 8th century and dedicated to Cuthbert. Books were seen as sacred objects by the mostly illiterate population.
Saint Cuthbert (02:59)
As Celtic Christianity retreated to Iona, the bishop isolated himself on Lindisfarne to pray for humanity. His body remained intact after death, leading to sainthood.
Sacred Christian Sites (02:21)
European believers venerated holy relics. Lindisfarne monks fled Viking attacks and traveled with Cuthbert's body for seven years, building Durham cathedral when they stopped.
Canterbury Cathedral (04:25)
Neil explains how King Henry II had Thomas Becket assassinated in 1170. Monks collected his blood for healing purposes and the church used his martyrdom against the monarchy.
Canterbury Pilgrimage (02:31)
Faithful Christians came to Canterbury Cathedral after Becket's martyrdom. Stained glass windows depict healing miracles; learn why relics were seen as a conduit to God.
Church of England (03:50)
Canterbury's cathedral grew with pilgrim donations. Henry VIII destroyed relics to strip Church power, including Becket's tomb—but two relics from his body survive in a side church.
The Reformation destroyed Catholic Britain. Glastonbury claimed to be the birthplace of Christianity in England; Neil visits the Tor where Abbot Whiting was executed.
Holy Grail Legend (02:57)
Neil explains how Arthur's tomb was discovered by Glastonbury monks. Joseph of Arimathea is said to have brought the grail in the 2nd century—beginning Christianity in England.
Reinforcing Faith (02:40)
Joseph of Arimathea theoretically could have traveled to Glastonbury. An expert discusses how monks promoted the Holy Grail myth to attract pilgrims as well as divine approval.
Glastonbury Thorn (03:36)
Joseph's staff is said to have been transformed into a thorn tree upon arrival. Neil finds that pilgrims still believe in the Holy Grail legend.
British Spiritual Culture (01:55)
Glastonbury illustrates the need for sacred places that give depth to society. Neil reflects on their communal function and their link to the natural world.
Credits: Sacred Wonders of Britain: Part 3 (00:41)
Credits: Sacred Wonders of Britain: Part 3
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