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The Modern Antiquarian: A Pre-millennial Odyssey Through Megalithic Britain : Including a Gazetteer to Over 300 Prehistoric Sites [Hardcover]

Julian Cope
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
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Book Description

14 April 2011

‘Deeply impressive… ancient history: the new rock ’n’ roll.’ The Times

Julian Cope’s bestselling modern classic, The Modern Aniquarian, is now released in a beautiful new hardback package. Having sold over 50,000 copies in two highly successful editions.

Julian Cope is one of Britain’s best known and most-celebrated post-punk visionaries. In this historical masterpiece, he takes us on an unforgettable journey across the British Isles, uncovering the first temples ever built and their myriad descendants, the relics of which can still be seen today.

The Modern Antiquarian is the result of an eight-year odyssey in search of the roots of British cultural identity. Of the countless sites visited, Cope has selected over 300 of the very best; photographing their remains and explaining fully their relationships with the landscape.

This book shines a powerful light onto the past of a nation hoodwinked into believing that its history began with the Roman conquest. Cope’s deft prose examines our prehistoric beginnings through the evidence of megalithic remains and their surroundings, allowing us for the first time to reconcile the tapestry of our past with modern life.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Thorsons; (Reissue) edition (14 April 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0722535996
  • ISBN-13: 978-0722535998
  • Product Dimensions: 30 x 20.8 x 4.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 101,820 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

Julian Cope has come a long way since the Teardrop Explodes. For eight years he has researched Britain's megalithic heritage in order to write about its inspirational and mythic importance.The Modern Antiquarian is quite an achievement, in which the singing space cadet once more reconciles himself to Earth. Book One is a series of ten essays reconstructing British paganism prior to the muscular intervention of Christianity. Seriously subjective, frequently wayward, they collectively seek to recover the Great Goddess, and restore a sense of femininity and spirituality to our landscape, dotted with its long barrows and standing stones. In the process, Cope introduces imaginative etymosophies [sic] and some wonderful chapter headings, such as "Why the Romans were so Heavy", and "Ur Indoors", while indulging his distaste for cities and his love of Roman-bashing, for their corruption of collective folk memory, and the straightness of their roads. Cope's own infectious vision is, understandably, more circular, if not exactly rounded. It would be easy to mock, with its amateur snaps (sometimes including a variously coiffed Cope or family, for scale, one presumes), and homespun New Age philosophy. However, Book Two, a rainbow-indexed gazetteer to over 300 prehistoric sites in Britain, is tremendous. Each entry combines a photograph, Ordnance Survey directions, a paragraph of geo-historical significance, and a personal observational note of Cope's. Occasional poetry surfaces--"Atop Knap Hill I eat my snot/For 'tis the only food I got"--but generally the absurdities are kept at bay, as St Julian leads us on a pilgrimage. There are even charming guidelines for those who use the gazetteer properly, including the invaluable tip to keep a plastic bag down your sock to collect rubbish in (Julian does). Splendidly eccentric, impossible not to enjoy, and as much a map of the errant genius of Cope as the land with which he so passionately communes. --David Vincent


'Utterly unique…opens a real window on Britain's prehistory.' The Times

'A unique blend of information, observation, personal experience and opinion… A strange and marvellous artefact.' The Independent

'Not only a joy, but a useful field guide.' The Guardian

'Immensely detailed and sumptuously illustrated…an essential guide' The Daily Telegraph

‘A remarkable fusion of scholarship, practical advice and visionary insight’ Daily Express

'A sumptuous technicolour delight. Erudite, playful and provocative.' Mojo

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
From cover to cover this book stands out from the other 'historical' accounts of British Heritage. It can be overwhelming at first hand looking at this rather bewildering account of events in pre-Roman times of British culture and how it has developed to date. Julian takes you on a 'cosmical' whirl through the original landscapes of the British Isles. And I have yet to fully understand where he is coming or going to with this book.
(On the other hand as for areas of great interest to visit in the UK this makes for a great read. Look out for his next book 'Let the Driver Speak' which goes into further details about the origination of the English Language.)
This book makes for great reading, not just for the English but also for the majority of Americans who want to know where their language originated from.
Read it... you won't be disappointed, a great record of English Megalithic landscapes and also an up-to-date field guide.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Paranormal in the West Country, and beyond 16 Dec 2003
Our Passionate Friend Julian Cope surprised us all in the 1990's by suddenly coming out as a megalithomaniac. The Modern Antiquarian is partly Julian's very personal take on ancient Britain and how the church and those pesky Romans ballsed it all up for us and partly a gazetteer of ancient sites around Britain, complete with directions, maps, idle jottings and some marvellous photographs.
The gazetteer is arranged geographically with each section colour-coded for ease of reference. Unfortunately some of the background colours are so dense that the print becomes difficult to read. In part one in particular there are some garishly photoshopped images laid out in various eccentric styles so that no two pages look quite the same. But these add to the charm of the book and what it might lack in academic rigour it makes up for in sheer enthusiasm. The binding of the book has come in for some criticism although my own copy is still all in one piece despite constant reference for 4 years or so now.
Cope lists many sites I would never have known about let alone have visited were it not for The Modern Antiquarian. The bizarre Figsbury Ring, near Salisbury, is a good example. There are some other sites listed and described here that I may have been put off from visiting had I not double-checked elsewhere.
Some of the material is already quite dated and some is just downright inaccurate. The entry on Stoney Littleton really needs to be updated as things have improved immeasurably at this site. The information on The Chestnuts in Kent needs some revising and correction. I'm sure there are many others besides.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good guide, but very dodgy scholarship 5 Jan 1999
By A Customer
As a guide to where to find ancient monuments this is very good, and I'll certainly be using it to give some targets on my walking trips. I like the look and feel of the book a lot; it's well organised, and it's nice to read his notes on each monument - they communicate his enthusiasm and encourage me to get out and find these places, as do the pictures.
The essays at the beginning are entertaining; I wouldn't know how true they are, but I have to say that I suspect it has to be wishful thinking. I speak Welsh, and some of the things he says in the sections about Wales are completely wrong (eg his translation of Pontypridd is so far off the mark, it's laughable), or misleading (eg he says that the ancient Welsh in former days called Britain 'Prydain'. That's true but, err, so do the modern Welsh in current days. Didn't he know that?) These aren't difficult things to find out, so it makes me wonder about everything else he presents as fact.
So if you're looking for a scholarly, reliable guide to ancient British monuments, don't buy this book. If you're looking for a personal, entertaining interpretation of these sites, which will encourage you to get out there, get this book and take it with a large pinch of salt. I'm glad I've got it though.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
So after 8 years of research not-mad rock and popster Julian Cope finally finishes the Modern Antiquarian. The gazeteer, wipe-clean cover and rainbow pages we were always promised are there as are poems and a collection of essays. The essay section won't make the archaeologists happy, but hopefully it will make them think. The sections on landscape temples are especially good. Some might find the etymosophy hard to swallow but just wait till the sequel 'Let Me Talk To The Driver' is published, Er...Look Out! The gazeteer triumphs where others fall short by having a full page and colour photo for almost all the sites covered as well as a description and notes written in the field. Some sites even get one of the aforementioned poems (over 50 of them) my personal favorite was the one for Knapp Hill, which begins 'On Knapp Hill I eat my Snot, For 'tis the only food I've Got'. Julian visited every site in the book and took most of the excellent photographs (unlike the famous archaeologist who wrote a whole paper on the Clava Cairns in Scotland without once leaving his office). All in all the Modern Antiquarian in a scholarly and visionary book which should set the archaeologists talking (if ever they decide to leave their offices).
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
Brilliant book, I am disabled and this is the best way to see nearly all the sites in the uk
Published 13 days ago by C.E.Finch
3.0 out of 5 stars The Modern Antiquarian
First impression was good but the book is quite bulky and heavy for reading enroute and when we actually went to find certain sites they were not quite so easy to find, maybe not... Read more
Published 5 months ago by kathy gifford
4.0 out of 5 stars Liked it
Fine purchase as good as expected. This product was nicely presented in its sleeve and is an ecellent companion work to the Megalithic European.
Published 10 months ago by Paul Rosser
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect! Great reading, interesting and highly recommend it!
Great bool from Cope, a second to his first, that I read a long time ago. Meant to buy this ages ago. Fascinating read!
Packaging was perfect and p+p great :)
Published 14 months ago by J. Griffiths
5.0 out of 5 stars The Modern Antiquarian
Completely brilliant, very thorough
This book gives you a clear understanding of how to access the sacred sites with all the history and truth included
Published 15 months ago by siobhain farrell
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastisches Buch das Spaß macht
Ein liebevoll und akribisch gemachtes Buch. Wie bei allen Cope-Büchern erlesen verarbeitet. Es kann als Vorbereitung und Leitfaden für eine mysthische Englandreise... Read more
Published 16 months ago by m
5.0 out of 5 stars The Modern Antiquarian - WOW!
Julian has seriously done his homework; from it's humble conception following a visit to Avebury that sparked an obsession for knowledge. Read more
Published on 19 April 2012 by Mother Willow
5.0 out of 5 stars Making Christmas Special
The Modern Antiquarian proved a special Christmas present and has already lead to joyful days spent in muddy fields with rain being rewarded by rainbows and joy
Published on 7 Jan 2012 by Brian of Wales
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding
The book is beautiful, the author - whose music I have much admired, gives this the personal touch of a classic. Many consider this the 'bible' of the subject and no wonder. Read more
Published on 3 Jan 2012 by trendy
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely holiday companion
This is an awesome reference book for anyone interested in stone circles and ancient british history. Read more
Published on 3 Sep 2010 by jol legend
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