I B Tauris, £20
Making sense of the early medieval period requires a ‘magpie’ approach, picking from many sources and disciplines to piece together a coherent picture. So writes Rory Naismith, lecturer in medieval British history at King’s College London, in his zippily written but comprehensive exploration of Anglo- Saxon London. Rory is as good as his word, producing an interdisciplinary overview that skilfully weaves together careful analysis of surviving contemporary documents, archaeological evidence, and place names.
Written with an evocative turn of phrase and a sharp eye for interesting detail, Citadel of the Saxons is packed full of information, and impressive in its scope given that it is under 200 pages long. Rory begins his account in the 5th century amidst the ruins of Roman London, before tracing the settlement’s rebirth and rise to new heights of prosperity, ending with the Norman Conquest of 1066.
This is an enjoyable account, clearly set out with a scattering of well-chosen monochrome images and a handy timeline putting the city in the wider context of what was going on elsewhere in Anglo-Saxon England.