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27.05.02

RADIO 4


The Long Search


Thursday 13 June, 8.00pm, BBC Radio 4 (six-part series)


Historian William Dalrymple goes on a search to discover the roots of spirituality in the British Isles


William Dalrymple, who is best known for his work on India and the Middle East, returns home to examine people's eternal quest to discover meaning and purpose in their lives.


From neolithic paganism to the cultural revolution of the Reformation, perceptions of God, or the gods, have changed throughout the centuries. Yet many have forgotten this rich mystical tradition.


Dalrymple says: "In the course of my travels I often came across the assumption that intense spirituality was somehow the preserve of what many call 'the mystic east'... it's a misconception that has always irritated me as I've always regarded our own indigenous British traditions of spirituality as especially rich."


In the first episode of the series, Darymple looks at the centuries leading up to the Christian era and what their religious systems mean to us today.


He visits Avebury at Spring Equinox to attend a modern Druid ceremony and looks at the links between today's neo-pagan practices and those of the ancients.


And he explores the "divine supermarket" of Roman Britain with a plethora of gods - Celtic, Roman, Persian and a new god from Palestine called Jesus.


Notes to Editors


The programme producer is Rosemary Dawson.


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