Dan Eatherley
William Collins, £16.99
ISBN 978-0008262747
Review Carly Hilts

According to the most recent figures (from 2017), there are some 3,163 non-native species currently present in England, Wales, and Scotland, and 1,266 in Ireland, Dan Eatherley attests. The vast majority of these are plants – including many foods that we take for granted today, from apples to various forms of wheat – but they also include such familiar creatures as sparrows, donkeys, sheep and goats, house mice, and the domestic cat.

Eatherley’s absorbing book explores the stories behind these arrivals, written with a conversational, often humorous turn of phrase. It is also about the introduction of ideas, such as the Neolithic ‘package’ of domesticated livestock and agriculture, and the Bronze Age Beaker phenomenon – as well as less-welcome arrivals, like the Yersinia pestis bacterium, which in the 14th century heralded the arrival of the Black Death to Britain.

Delving deep into both archaeological and historical sources, above all this is a story of us – how the introduction of new species to Britain changed our diets, cultures, and lifestyles across time, and how humans themselves arrived for the first time on these shores.


This review appeared in CA 364. To find out more about subscribing to the magazine, click here.

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