Reviews

Manx-Crosses

Review – Manx Crosses: a handbook of stone sculpture 500-1040 in the Isle of Man

Based on archaeological and fragmentary documentary evidence, the Irish Sea was a significant superhighway during prehistory, right through to the medieval period, and beyond. The Isle of Man appears to have been a significant stepping stone for adopting art and architecture, especially during the early Christian period, when 200 or more carved stone crosses occupied many of the churchyards on the island.

Rock,-Bone,-and-Ruin

Review – Rock, Bone, and Ruin: an optimist’s guide to the historical sciences

Geology has few laws, but the most encompassing and important is the late 18th- to 19th-century Doctrine of Uniformitarianism – ‘the present is the key to the past’ – and generally this is still accepted as true. ‘Historical scientists’ (aka earth scientists), who try to interpret ‘the deep past’, continue, as naive realists, to practise in this belief/ knowledge, as it works well.

Protecting-the-Roman-Empire

Review – Protecting the Roman Empire: fortlets, frontiers, and the quest for post-conquest security

The Roman army is a well-studied aspect of the ancient empire it served, and tourists frequently visit the remains of legionary fortresses and auxiliary forts across the former territory of the Roman Empire. Yet the less famous (though equally important) small installations of fortlets and towers are fundamental to understanding how the Roman army functioned, both as a conquering body and as a defensive force. In this work, Symonds offers the first synthetic analysis of these under-appreciated and intriguing outpost structures.

Britannia-Romana

Review – Britannia Romana: Roman inscriptions and Roman Britain

Visiting any of the great national museums on the Continent (even the regional and local ones, come to that), students of Roman Britain could be forgiven for walking about the galleries filled floor to ceiling with altars, tombstones, and public inscriptions awestruck, but also a little downcast. What has Britain got to compare with it?

Norwich_Castle

Review – The Square Box on the Hill

Norwich Castle’s life as a royal fortification was short-lived, and it served much more time as a county gaol. Lucia Marchini pays a visit to an exhibition that charts the changes to the structure over the centuries.

Writing-Britain's-Ruins

Review – Writing Britain’s Ruins

In the 16th and 17th centuries, the Reformation and the Civil War reduced a great many of Britain’s abbeys and castles to ruins – or, as they are described by a number of 18th- and 19thcentury poets, ‘piles’ of a ‘venerable’, ‘stately’, ‘stupendous’ or ‘lowly’ variety, or even ‘dismal Heaps’. These monuments have formed part of the country’s cultural consciousness, and their impact can be felt particularly keenly in Gothic fiction and Gothic Revival architecture.

Ness-of-Brodgar

Review – The Ness of Brodgar: digging deeper

Perched on a peninsula in the heart of the Orkney archipelago, the Ness of Brodgar is a truly remarkable site. Long-running excavations there are bringing a wealth of discoveries to light, illuminating the life and death of a sophisticated Neolithic community (see CA 335).

Recollections-of-a-Female-Archaeologist

Review – Recollections of a Female Archaeologist: a life of Brenda Swinbank

With a mixture of personal and archaeological anecdotes, this short book gives a real insight into the life and studies of Brenda Swinbank. As a woman researching in a very male-dominated field, the support she received from more established scholars is a credit to her work. Despite this support, she struggled to get a permanent academic job. Perhaps things were not so different 60 years ago…

Roman-Britain-the-frontier-province-cover

Review – Roman Britain: the frontier province

This collection of papers by Mark Hassall, for many years a lecturer at UCL’s Institute of Archaeology and co-editor of the epigraphic roundup for the journal Britannia, takes as its model a 1953 collection, Roman Britain and the Roman Army, by the eminent scholar of Roman Britain Eric Birley. Like that volume, this current collection takes stock of previously published research to present an academic ‘greatest hits’ compilation.

Maryport

Review – Maryport: a Roman fort and its community

Maryport stands out among the Roman forts in northern Britain. Popular accounts of such sites normally focus on providing a structural biography of the fort buildings, with less said about individual soldiers or the world beyond its ramparts. Books about Maryport must buck this trend, as comparatively little is known about the fort interior, but fascinating insights into activity outside the defences are steadily accumulating. Despite this work, the fort remains most famous for its collection of sculpture and inscribed stones, especially altars.

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