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Castles, filming and arresting a rioter on menu for TV historian's talk
CAPTURING a rioter is not something many historians can claim to have done.
Not unless your name is Dan Snow, that is.
The TV front man, who presents programmes on the past, is bringing his citizen's arrest making skills - and the story behind it - as part of a show at The Henley Literary Festival.
The writer and broadcaster will be discussing the mysteries and wonders of castles around the world in October but will also be telling tales about his television exploits and that renowned incident during the London riots in 2011.
Mr Snow, who pinned down a rioter in the capital, will be talking about battle castles, a subject on which he fronted a series on the History Channel and also published a book.
He told Freetime: "I was lucky enough to travel round the world seeing castles a couple of years ago. I got to see some of the best castles on earth and I was really fascinated by why these castles existed. Who built them and what they were used for and some of the stories attached to them. Basically, it was an opportunity to do a book about these incredible buildings, which are part of our society and part of our consciousness."
The journalist, son of fellow TV reporter Peter Snow, will look at the military engineering behind the most formidable strongholds in the medieval world.
"There's this romance about castles, and I've always been fascinated by castles since I was a kid," he said.
"They were always a bit of an enigma and a bit of a mystery, it's definitely part of my childhood.
"The show is for history lovers, people who like the landscape and the British tradition of celebrating our castles.
"And I can chuck in a few fun stories about working on location and on television as well."
And the riots intervention? "People do ask about that, it's also a good story," he said.
"It's one of those things people like to bring up."
Asked if he had a particular time period or aspect of history he enjoyed the most studying or making programmes about, he said: "I suppose my favourite period is the 1700s. The 18th-century is the time when Britain takes its modern shape and when a lot of the modern world comes together. But I think all of history is absolutely fascinating and I keep discovering new periods which I love."
So what does he say to any sceptical kids that wonder why they bother studying history? He said: "I think if you want to understand the world around, you wonder why we speak English and why we live in a country called Britain. If you ask why the capital city is London?
"And why we do things the way we do, history is the answer to all those questions. Why people who are fighting each other, why they love each other, why they all hate each other - the answer lies in our past.
"If you have any understanding of the present you have to understand the past."
He said he is impressed by what he sees in terms of history being taught in schools, but admits he wouldn't mind seeing it given greater prominence.
"Obviously if I had my way kids will learn a bit more about history in school, but I can understand that all subjects say the same.
"I know it is a big debate going on at the moment but I think we should also be pretty happy where we are, which is a country where we are one of the best in the world for people who study the past and love and think about the past. Look at the way we preserve buildings, the way we teach history at school and university. History is seen as a good subject by businesses for potential employees and I think we're in a pretty strong position. But there's always room for improvement there's room for more history in schools, sure."
Mr Snow, who named Petra in Jordan as his favourite filming location, calling it extraordinary, says he feels very lucky to have the job he does and hopes to carry on for many years doing more of the same.
But is there a downside to being a renowned TV historian? "It's the most annoying thing in pub quizzes because people go 'yes you'll know this, it's history' and you say 'that's everything that ever happened on the planet and I'm not suggesting I know everything'," he said.
His show takes place on Friday October 4 at 3pm at Christ Church venue.
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