Neil qualified as an archaeologist in 1988. His fieldwork experience covers everything from the early Stone Age in Scotland to the examination of the World War II coastal fortifications of Kent and Northern France.
Neil also trained as a journalist, and has also worked on publications such as The Scotsman, The Herald, The Guardian, The Edinburgh Evening News and The Daily Record, providing invaluable experience for when, in 2002, his career as a television broadcaster began.
BBC 2’s Two Men in a Trench saw Neil and his friend Tony Pollard visit historic British battlefields and recreate the battle situation using state-of-the-art technology. To accompany the series he co-wrote two books, Two Men in a Trench: Battlefield Archaeology and Two Men in a Trench II: Uncovering the Secrets of British Battlefields, published by Michael Joseph.
Following this, in 2005, Neil joined the team on the highly acclaimed BBC2 series Coast. In 2006, he stepped into the role of lead presenter. The programme, now with 10 series completed, looks at both the natural and social history of the British coastline.
In 2006, as well as working on Coast, Neil made two documentaries, one for Channel 4, The Face of Britain, and another for BBC 2, Scotland’s History: The Top Ten. He also took part in Channel 4's Time Team: Big Royal Dig, digging up the gardens at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh.
Over the years, Neil’s TV credits have been steadily building, including The History Detectives for BBC 2; contributions to BBC1’s The One Show, 2007; A History of Scotland for BBC Scotland, 2008; and BBC One's, Cleopatra: Portrait of a Killer, 2009.
A History of Ancient Britain, BBC 2, came in 2011, quickly followed by A History of Celtic Britain, BBC 2, which tells the epic story of how the Ancient Britons evolved and entered European civilisation. In 2012, Neil presented Vikings, also for BBC 2, a 3-part search for the truth about the Vikings. Neil’s accompanying book, Vikings, is published by Orion Books.
In 2013, he was invited by Foxtel to lead a team of presenters on a journey around the Australian coast. Coast Australia was a huge success, becoming the History Channel’s highest rated show to date. As a result, three more series were made with series 4 airing in 2018. In 2016, Neil presented Coast New Zealand, and due to the show's success, it is now into it's third series!
Following on from Neil's Coast adventures, as part of the BBC’s World War One centenary season, Neil presented The Machine Gun and Skye's Band of Brothers, which examined the use of the Maxim machine gun and its legacy within the Hebridean community, and contributed to the BBC’s iWonder interactive online guide to World War One Propaganda.
2018 saw Neil present new BBC show, Rise of the Clans, where he travels back in time to reveal the story of Scotland's ancient clans.
Neil's books include Amazing Tales For Making Men Out Of Boys (2009), published by Michael Joseph, A History of Scotland (2009), and A History of Ancient Britain (2011), both published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson, Master of Shadows (2015), published by Orion and The Story of the British Isles In 100 Places (2018), published by Penguin.
On the back of Neil's latest book, which received 5 star reviews worldwide, Neil toured all over the UK, speaking to over 39 sold out venues explaining what British History means to him and why we need to cherish and celebrate our wonderful countries.
Neil lives in Scotland with his wife and three children.