Dan Snow on Landmarks & Horrible Histories

'The perfect partners in crime'

Dan Snow is a writer, historian and presenter. He is the force behind History Hit, The Number 1 History Podcast on iTunes. History Hit features reports from the weird and wonderful places around the world where history has been made and interviews with some of the best historians writing today. Dan also covers some of the major anniversaries as they pass by and explores the deep history behind today's headlines - giving you the context to understand what is going on today. Listen to Dan Snow's History Hit podcast at Historyhit.com/podcast



"Of course the Horrible Histories are for the kids. Sure. Absolutely. If I had a penny for every time I've seen a grownup sneaking off to read a Horrible Histories book on the loo or while the baby is napping I’d be a rich man. They are based on the most wonderful premise, one that too many scholarly historians forgot. They allow us to be fascinated by all the insane, deranged, appalling and therefore faintly comic things that our species has done.

Horrible Histories came to us and engaged us on our own terms, when too much ‘proper’ history expected us to go to it. Most of us don’t want lengthy descriptions of 18th-century parliamentary legislation. We want to hear about beheadings, barbarism and bonkers baddies. We’re human, it’s a failing, sure, but that’s the point, only humans are batty enough to do all that deranged stuff in the first place; and having done it, we are utterly intrigued by it.

Landmark Trust is the perfect partner in crime for Horrible Histories. They are both history for people who think they don’t like history. Landmark Trust properties are all national treasures. Tangible pieces of our past, preserved not as museums but as real places. But they’re discrete. My Dad and I went on a study break in Maesyronnen Chapel, a former chapel on a Welsh hillside, he prepared for the 1997 General Election, and I for my A-levels. 

We went to Fort Clonque for a family birthday. Frenchman’s Creek in Cornwall for a holiday. The history is in all those places, without being forced. The giant fireplaces, the lintels, the timeworn floorboards all speak of the past without interpretation panels and guidebooks. If nothing else the buildings remind you that you are part of a continuum. Those times passed, and so too will this. And if that’s all you know about history, you're doing fine. Both the buildings and the books deal on your terms. You're not in a Cathedral being droned at by a guide. You're enveloped in a huge chair, beside a roaring fire, reading Horrible Histories aloud to your transfixed kids about Edward II’s legendary death. [Look it up.] Heaven."
Fort Clonque on Alderney, Channel Islands