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Pilgrimage, Overseas cricketers, How the ancients helped build Milton Keynes

Tom Holland and guests pull on their walking boots to explore the history of pilgrimage and ask why so many people are interested in it now.

Tom Holland is joined in the studio by Dr Marion Bowman from the Open University.

As more and more people become interested in making a pilgrimage, Tonderai Munyevu - the star of the play Black Men Walking - joins with members of the British Pilgrimage Trust for a day on the South Downs where they encounter pagans, priests and members of the public. Is a journey into the past a spritual wander or just an excuse for a nice walk?

The cricket season is in full swing and following on from a heavy defeat to the Scots, England now face the Aussies and India in a hectic summer when it seems every cricket playing nation is represented. It's only fifty years since the first overseas players came into the county game and Helen Castor has been meeting with two people who were at the vanguard of this sporting influx - the Barbardian Vanburn Holder and the legendary Indian wicketkeeper Farokh Engineer.

As the longest day passes and the night begin to lengthen again, Tom celebrates the solstice in the most unlikely place and finds out about the role of ancient people in the planning of Milton Keynes.

Producer: Nick Patrick
A Pier production for BBC Radio 4.

Available now

28 minutes


Tom Holland is joined by Dr Marion Bowman  Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies at the Open University.

Midsummer at Milton Keynes

The author of Watling Street, John Higgs, takes Tom to Milton Keynes where, on the midsummer solstice, he reveals how the design of Britain’s newest city was heavily influenced by pagan ritual and belief. So much so that at 4.43AM on the 21st June the sun shines down Midsummer Boulevard. John reveals that Milton Keynes, born in the white heat of sixties technology, is actually a temple to the sun.

According to Marion Bowman, there are other spiritual landmarks in Milton Keynes: including a wood shaped like Norwich Cathedral and its own Glastonbury Thorn




If our television and radio output anything to go by, there is an increase in interest pilgrimage . In June, BBC Radio 4 broadcast The Crossway, Guy Stagg’s account of how, after years of mental illness, he walked to Jerusalem. Earlier in the year BBC Two followed seven well-known people as they ‘found themsleves’ on the most famous European pilgrimage trail: the Camino de Santiago.

Here in the UK, the British Pilgrimage Trust  has identified more than sixty routes and is busy promoting secular pilgrimage. For Making History, one of the stars Black Men Walking, Tonderai Munyevu stepped out one bright May morning across the South Downs with pilgrims walking the Old Way from Southampton to Canterbury.

Overseas Cricketers.

It’s fifty years since the first overseas cricketers were allowed to play in the County Championship. It was also a year when race relations were top of the sporting and political agenda. The Mexico Olympics saw two of the USAs successful sprinters raise a black-gloved hand as the American National Anthem played. Later in the year, the selection of a ‘coloured’ cricketer, Basil D'Oliveira, bu the England selectors for the tour of South Africa led to the cancellation of the series and the beginnings of the sporting boycott of the Apartheid state.


In the month that Enoch Powell made his infamous 'rivers of blood'  speech, the Barbadian pace bowler, Vanburn Holder , and the Indian wicket-keeper batsman, Farokh Engineer, arrived in the UK. Helen Castor hears their memories.


Making History is produced by Nick Patrick and is a Pier Production for BBC Radio 4.