Books

Stories-from-the-Edge

Review – Stories from the Edge: creating identities in early medieval Staffordshire

Matthew BlakeBAR Publishing, £35ISBN 978-1407316697Review John Blair Early medieval Staffordshire was very important, but its importance must be reconstructed from the slightest of clues. This study of Pirehill Hundred applies a multidisciplinary approach (archaeology, topography, place-names, occasional documents) to four thematic strands. First, barrows: it is shown not only that the number of Anglo- Saxon […]

The-Staffordshire-Hoard

Review – The Staffordshire Hoard: an Anglo-Saxon treasure

Few archaeological discoveries have generated the same level of public interest as the Staffordshire Hoard. Its discovery in 2009 created a worldwide sensation and, 11 years later, it retains its appeal, giving the appearance of this report an importance beyond that of most academic publications. Now we have it: does it live up to our hopes and expectations?

Mercia

Review – Mercia: the rise and fall of a kingdom

A lack of sources regarding the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia has often led to it being overshadowed by other contemporary kingdoms, such as Wessex, in discussions of the Heptarchy, but in this book Annie Whitehead has gathered all of the available historical references to tell the story of the kingdom and the people who shaped it.

Kindred

Review – Kindred: Neanderthal life, love, death, and art

Neanderthals must be the most-familiar members of our extended family tree. Since the first discoveries of their bones in the 1850s (a decade that also saw the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species) shook perceptions of what it meant to be human, public fascination has endured unabated. In this absorbing new book, Dr Rebecca Wragg Sykes explores the evolution of our understanding of these ‘truly A-list’ hominins, as well as discussing exciting recent discoveries.

Graveyards-and-cemeteries-of-Edinburgh

Review – The Graveyards and Cemeteries of Edinburgh

Charlotte Golledge’s book takes us on a tour of the burial places of Edinburgh. For each cemetery, she provides a small precis of its history, and then delves into the lives of some of the famous people buried within it – and, in some cases, highlights more everyday burials, including the small grave of an infant whose surviving twin added a new headstone after discovering her burial place several decades later.

Iron-Age-and-Roman-coin-hoards

Review – Iron Age and Roman Coin Hoards in Britain

In April 2010, a metal-detectorist found a pot containing 52,503 Roman coins near Frome in Somerset. As one of the largest hoards ever found in Britain, its discovery rekindled an age-old debate regarding why Roman coin hoards were buried: were they stashed savings which were never retrieved, valuables hidden in turbulent times, or offerings to the gods? Using a dataset of more than 3,260 hoards from throughout Britain, this volume attempts to resolve this debate, adding a much-needed archaeological perspective in a field frequently dominated by numismatists with patterns of coin circulation on their minds.

Roman-Britain-and-Where-to-Find-it

Review – Roman Britain and Where to Find It

It is not easy to describe 400 years of activity stretching from southern England almost to the edge of Scotland, but Denise Allen and Mike Bryan take to the challenge in Roman Britain and Where to Find It, a new touring guide to Roman sites across the country. Each chapter (representing different regions of the UK) contains a brief summary of Roman history in the area, before going on to describe the individual sites, along with directions for visiting.

Planning-in-the-early-medieval-landscape

Review – Planning in the Early in the Early Medieval Landscape

Grave AX at Yeavering remains one of the most-extraordinary discoveries in Anglo-Saxon archaeology. Its occupant lay in a slightly flexed posture, with a goat’s head at the feet, a broken spear laid diagonally across the torso, and, running down the central axis of the grave, above the body, a Roman-style groma.

Belfast-History-Tour

Review – Belfast History Tour

This pocket-sized guide to Belfast provides the reader with everything required for an enjoyable trip around 50 of its most historically significant sites. The information is presented in a convenient format, with a helpful map at the beginning and a discussion of each site set out in geographical order, beginning in the east of the city, at Stormont, and moving towards the older sites in the city centre, before turning to the Victorian and Edwardian heritage of south Belfast.

A-Flight-of-Figureheads

Review – A Flight of Figureheads

At The Box, in Plymouth, 14 colourful giants wait to greet visitors to this new museum (at time of writing, its COVID-delayed opening had been rescheduled to 29 September). Depicting monarchs, mythological beings, and more abstract concepts, these figureheads once graced the bows of 19th-century Royal Navy warships, providing a physical representation of the ships’ names.

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