Conventional wisdom has it that very little of the English landscape can be traced further back than the Anglo-Saxon period; and while DNA and isotopic analyses are starting to identify post-Roman Britons in ostensibly Anglo-Saxon cemeteries, it has long been held that British populations in large parts of England were replaced almost entirely by Germanic settlers. In Kingdom, Civitas, and County, Stephen Rippon demolishes these views, demonstrating that territories and administrative boundaries have endured in some form since prehistoric times and that Britons were key to their survival.
Review – Axe-heads and Identity: an investigation into the roles of imported axe-heads in identity formation in Neolithic Britain
In the last 15 years, the Implement Petrology Group – its members colloquially known as the mad-axers – has been reinvigorated and has returned to its mid-20th century origins. This is part of a general revival of interest in non-flint lithics, best exemplified by the definitive and highly influential European Project Jade, which puts detailed, modern lithological examination of the artefacts at their core. Indeed, most of this volume can be thought as a continuation of Project Jade.
his book tells the story of the Harvard Archaeological Mission, which worked in Ireland between 1932 and 1936 to explore the Celtic origins of the Irish race. Using now-controversial eugenics ideas, it looked to physically identify a Celtic race in the modern Irish. Its social anthropologists saw 1930s Ireland as a society in transition from a traditional, rural, Celtic way of life to modernity. And its archaeologists sought, through excavation, to find evidence of the Celtic presence in Irish prehistory, linked to Continental European cultures.
The whereabouts of some of the estimated 1,700 men who died in captivity after the Battle of Dunar was not known until the discovery of human remains in two pits during building work at the city’s Palace Green Library in 2013. Today, a memorial plaque on the wall outside the library’s courtyard café commemorates those who were found at this spot and those who still lie buried beyond the boundaries of the excavation. It is at this most fitting venue that the exhibition Bodies of Evidence: how science unearthed Durham’s dark secret delves into research behind the identification of the excavated remains.
The popular (and beautifully illustrated) series exploring Portable Antiquities Scheme finds in different areas continues with a slim volume focused not on a region, but on all of medieval England.
The New Forest is in many ways a paradox: a liminal landscape that many of us have ventured past or through and feel a connection with. The death of an English king while hunting is for many the only narrative of which they are aware, but there is a much wider story to be told about this fascinating part of Britain.
Students of Irish archaeology will be familiar with John Waddell’s Prehistoric Archaeology of Ireland. This new publication is far removed from that sturdy workhorse, offering hypotheses on the symbiotic relationship between myth and archaeology.
Neither Harry nor June Welsh require an introduction in Northern Irish archaeology, being the authors – both jointly and separately – of two publications on the province’s heritage: Tomb Travel (2011) and The Prehistoric Burial Sites of Northern Ireland (2014). Their most recent is very much the companion volume to the burial sites book.
Review – In the Shadow of Corinium: prehistoric and Roman occupation at Kingshill South, Cirencester, Gloucestershire
This new publication by Oxford Archaeology is a monograph report of an excavation undertaken between 2009 and 2013 ahead of house-building just outside the site of the Roman town of Corinium – modern Cirencester. It is copiously illustrated in full colour, with thorough accounts of the archaeological sequence, the finds, biological evidence, and radiocarbon dating, plus a synthesis and discussion.
A biography normally explores the life of an individual person, but in this wide-ranging new book, Richard Hingley (Professor of Roman Archaeology at the University of Durham) tells the story of an entire town and the lives and livelihoods of its occupants over the course of five centuries.