Edited by Ruth Shaffrey
Oxbow Books, £55
Review Rob Ixer
This collection of 15 chapters – by many of Britain’s most involved, non-flint lithic workers – is refreshingly eclectic. Once past the five, almost obligatory, polished stone-axe chapters, including a very useful contemporary overview of Cornubian greenstone axes, there are four on querns. Two are especially piquant: querns as indicators of the introduction of cereal farming, and an investigation into the safest timing of the first Niedermendig imports into Britain. The final five chapters are especially diverse: loom weights, chalk objects, Avebury sarsen polissoirs, jet and jet-like matters, and a bracer. It is good to see these having a thorough airing.
But there is a slight feeling of this being a scratch team or second XI, both in the objects themselves and in the way that they are discussed, as a few read like an elaboration of work given in recent (magnificent) publications.
There are, however, enough good chapters and informed speculation to overlook the pot-boilers (ironically, a study of which would have fitted here well). Alone, the querns can make a really satisfying, if expensive, meal.
This review appeared in CA 336.