Excavations in the north and south continue to reveal evidence of how Romans buried their dead. Lucia Marchini explores two exhibitions in London and York approaching the subject in different ways.
Once part of Mercia, Nottingham was a key Anglo- Saxon settlement that became one of the five Boroughs of the Danelaw. It is therefore surprising that – according to a foreword by eminent Viking scholar Professor Judith Jesch – this slim volume is the first to be dedicated to Viking Age Nottinghamshire, but it is an informative guide to the region’s early medieval heritage, and an enjoyable read.
The Stonehenge Bluestones is a semi-glossy, well-produced, slim, populist volume that, after ten years, replaces John’s earlier book, The Bluestone Enigma. It is the better of the two, with fewer factual errors, less immoderate language, and a closer understanding of the complexities of the ‘problem’: whence did the bluestones come and how were they moved to Salisbury Plain?
The Isle of Man lies at the centre of the Irish Sea and is characterised by its own insular traditions, while also being subject to influences from all those regions surrounding the sea – as well as beyond. This is evident in the megalithic monumental tradition described within this volume, which presents the evidence from Man and places it in its wider context. This definitive account will appeal to scholars of British prehistory, as well as those interested in Manx studies. Although the initial research took place several decades ago, the editors have conscientiously reviewed and updated it.
If anyone is capable of introducing the casual reader to the landscapes of Britain it is Professor Francis Pryor. In a career spanning the last 30 years, he has brought to life lost environments, settlements, and human experience at some of the most ephemeral and enigmatic sites through his archaeological excavations – and, latterly, his books. His latest volume is an anthology of his experiences of various British landscapes, and his personal responses to them.
Review – The Outcast Dead: the effect of the New Poor Law on the health and diet of London’s post-medieval poor
Based on the results of the author’s MPhil research at Durham University, this volume examines an intriguing hypothesis: that the introduction of the New Poor Law in 1834 had such a profound effect on the diet of the poor that it left visible traces on their bones. It does so by interrogating historical data, with an osteological assessment of the health of five buried populations.
This is the second edition of what has become a standard work on Roman art, and covers the period described as the Second Sophistic – a time that saw a seismic transformation in the art and architecture of the empire. Some of the illustrations and a chapter examining the influence of Roman art beyond the empire are new, but the older material has lost none of its relevance and power.
Almost a decade ago, the crumbling remains of Reading Abbey – once one of the most important medieval religious centres in northern Europe – were closed to the public. Now, following major conservation work, the site has reopened. Carly Hilts paid a visit.
This is another in the popular series of books that showcases finds largely recovered by metal-detectorists and recorded by the Portable Antiquities Scheme. The objects presented are mouth-watering. There is among them a quartzite bifacial hand axe of Lower or Middle Palaeolithic date, a Bronze Age bracelet of sheet gold, three torcs that represent the earliest Iron Age gold known in Britain, an enamelled souvenir pan from Hadrian’s Wall, the Anglo- Saxon Staffordshire Hoard, a medieval heraldic harness mount, and a post-medieval pocket sundial.
Almost a third of this book comprises a review of pre-Roman record keeping, before moving to the title period under headings such as ‘Archives and libraries in the Roman world’ and ‘Epigraphy’. The latter discusses, among other things, inscriptions on stone, writing tablets, and monuments, such as Trajan’s Column, as examples of forms of visual communication. Five appendices are preceded by a final brief chapter on the Theodosian and Justinianic Codes.