Books

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Review – The Isle of Man: Stone Age to Swinging Sixties

Within its 225 square miles, the Isle of Man boasts an impressively diverse historic landscape spanning some 10,000 years of human activity. In this compact but wide-ranging book, our guide is Matthew Richardson, curator of social history at Manx National Heritage.

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Review – Great Cloister: a lost Canterbury Tale

Among the 856 heraldic shields emblazoned on the ceilings of the cloister of Canterbury Cathedral is hidden a story of the social and political history of 14thand 15th-century England. In this large and intensively researched volume, Paul A Fox sets out to unravel the connections between the families and individuals recorded here, and the man behind its construction, Archbishop Thomas Arundel.

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Review – Old Oswestry Hillfort and its Landscape: ancient past, uncertain future

Sharing elements with a standard regional study of a hillfort in geographical context, this series of papers is distinctly wider in scope. It is neither underpinned by recent excavation, nor by reassessment in detail of the 1930s interventions. Instead, ten authors tackle three themes in 14 chapters. They examine the detailed configuration and Iron Age regional setting of the hillfort, before assessing aspects of its cultural biography and that of its surroundings over more-recent centuries, continuing through to military impact during the World Wars. A critical examination of the planning framework and decision-making in regard to housing developments that threatened (and seemingly still threaten) to encroach on the site’s setting follows.

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Review – The Life Biography of Artefacts and Ritual Practice: with case studies from Mesolithic to early Bronze Age Europe

Within the context of burial and ritual, archaeologists have found it near-impossible to understand why mundane objects became the focus for ritual deposition. I suppose it is all too easy to look at anthropology and ethnography to get some of the answers, especially when we look at our own throwaway society. Clearly, objects in late and early prehistory took on several roles through the duration of their use: from utilitarian tool to a venerated item that would have possessed supernatural power and provided essential help for the afterlife (and beyond).

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Review – 1520: the Field of the Cloth of Gold

Published 500 years after the event took place, this book serves as a quincentenary celebration of the legendary first meeting between Henry VIII, the English king (r. 1509-1547), and Francis I, the French king (r. 1515-1547). Known as the Field of the Cloth of Gold, the festivities were held over the course of two weeks in June 1520 and served as an attempt at brokering a friendship between the two often-combative nations.

Historic-England

Review – Historic England: Dorset

Dorset is rich in heritage, with an array of historical sites and towns, as well as unique natural landmarks. This book offers a beautifully illustrated introduction to the county’s history through a selection of pictures from the Historic England Archive.

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Review – My Life as a Replica: St John’s Cross, Iona

In this book, Sally Foster and Sian Jones examine the history of the Cross and its replicas, challenging the traditional dismissal of historical reproductions as of less importance than the original. Their study shows that replicas play their own role in heritage landscapes, which is worth considering when looking at object biographies.

Secret-Britain

Review – Secret Britain: unearthing our mysterious past

As advances in archaeological science march on, we are increasingly able to answer questions of ‘when’ and ‘how’ when investigating sites and artefacts. But what about ‘why’? In this attractively presented and impressively wide-ranging book, Mary-Ann Ochota invites us to explore the possibilities of some of Britain’s most enigmatic discoveries.

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