My haven: Historian and Coast presenter, Neil Oliver, finds solace in the living room of his stone cottage in Stirling, Scotland
Home sweet home: Neil Oliver shows us some of his favourite things including his grandfather's watch and the first photo of his daughter
1 COAST TO COAST
I got this painting for my wife Trudi as a surprise birthday present a few years ago. It was in a little art gallery a few streets from ours, and every day I’d pass by and look at it. I’d been planning to get it for a while, then one day it vanished. I thought I’d lost my chance but thankfully it had been moved inside.
It was painted in 1965 by Ukrainian artist Grygoriy Shyshko, but I still don’t know which coast it is, so if anyone knows please tell me.
2 WATCH WORDS
When he retired in 1954 after 41 years at supermarket chain Cooper and Co in Glasgow, my paternal grandfather was given this engraved watch, which came to me when he died in 1988.
My interest in history is down to both my grandfathers surviving the World War I. They were both injured, but had they died I would never have been born.
It got me thinking about how much of history is down to chance and survival.
3 CANDID CAMERA
Inadvertently, this turned out to be the first picture of me and Trudi, although we hadn’t yet met (I’m the one with the hair, she’s in the orange top).
It was 10 October 1986 at Glasgow University Societies Fair. I was the Archaeology Society president, and our treasurer took some snaps. Later, after Trudi and I had met, he had them developed and she was in this one.
We married on 10 October, 2009 – exactly 23 years to the day later.
4 SALT OF THE EARTH
My friend Tom Affleck left me this 1960s trowel in his will in 1987.
Tom had flown Spitfires during the war and then gone on to get a first-class degree in botany. He directed the first dig I did in 1985. He was an amateur archaeologist all his life and his wife encouraged him to go back to uni and study it when he was in his 50s.
He was a real character who took me under his wing and made me fall in love with archaeology.
5 A WHALE OF A TIME
This whale’s tooth was bought in West Africa by my great uncle Alex in 1920. He served in the Camel Corps in the Middle East in World War I, but took off round the world when it was over.
From time to time, packages would turn up at the family home in Glasgow containing wonderful souvenirs from around the globe, and the tooth was one of them. It’s passed down through the family and I’ve been fascinated by it all my life.
6 SO TOUCHING
Minutes after she’d arrived in April 2003, weighing 8lb 1oz with a full head of black spiky hair, we took this picture of my newborn daughter Evie’s hand holding Trudi’s finger.
Trudi had originally planned a water birth, but when we got to Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital in London it was discovered she had a condition that required an immediate emergency Caesarean.
This captures the calm after the storm.
Neil’s latest book, The History Of Ancient Britain (W&N, 20) is out now. The Last Explorers is on Sundays, BBC2, 6pm