Britain BC: Life In Britain and Ireland before the Romans Hardcover – 1 Sep 2003
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‘Francis Pryor has given us a remarkable, imaginative and persuasive account of those other Britons… its enthusiastic and confident approach deserves to be very influential’ TLS
‘A compulsive narrative intertwining prehistory, the excitement of discovery and personalities. It bounds along, wonderfully enlivened by Pryor’s earthy enthusiasm’ New Scientist
‘There are enough curious facts, contentious theories and bizarre hypotheses here to hold the interest of anyone concerned with the unique and peculiar story of these islands’ Independent on Sunday
From the reviews of Francis Pryor’s television series on BRITAIN BC:
'Fascinating…the evangelical Pryor paints a vivid portrait of pre-Roman society that tackles received wisdom about what was going on here in the stone, bronze and iron ages' Daily Telegraph
'Pryor leaps about the country at a cracking pace, his big personality making sure we never get bored by the scant and rarefied scraps that are his stock-in-trade' Observer
'Visually stunning. Pryor offers an inspiring new view of Britain before the Roman invasion' Yorkshire Post
From the Inside Flap
Traditionally, British history has been regarded as starting with the Roman Conquest. Yet this is to ignore half a million years of prehistory that still exert a profound influence on British and Irish life today. In Britain BC, Francis Pryor sets the record straight.
Aided in recent years by aerial photography and costal erosion (which has helped expose such sites as Seahenge), and by advances in scientific techniques such as radiocarbon dating and wood analysis, archaeologists have discovered compelling evidence for a much more sophisticated life among the Ancient Britons than has been previously supposed. Far from being woad-painted barbarians, the earliest inhabitants of the British Isles had developed their own religions, laws, crafts, arts, trade systems, farms and priesthood long before the Romans' brief occupation.
Examining sites from the great ceremonial landscapes of Stonehenge, Avebury and the Bend of the Boyne to small domestic settlements, and objects from precious ritual offerings to the tiny fragments of flint discarded by toolmakers, Francis Pryor, one of our leading archaeologists, has created a remarkable portrait of the life of our ancestors, in all its variety and complexity. His authoritative and radical re-examination of Britain and Ireland before the coming of the Romans makes us look afresh at the whole story of our islands.
Top customer reviews
Fortunately, Francis Pryor's excellent book manages to bring back much of this magic combined with sound archeological reasoning. The truth, as we now understand it, is even more remarkable than the theories put forwards by Watkins over eighty years ago. Quite clearly, Pryor has his own agenda (I.e. that many finds are, in fact, ritualistic in origin) but his arguments are very compelling. This is a book that is impossible to put down and this reviewer was left wanting more. As the author clearly states, 500-odd pages are not sufficient to do justice to the missing 99% of the history of the British Isles. In fact, most readers will be amazed just how much has been found and, better still, what can be visited today by those readers with a more enquiring mind.
For me, I particularly enjoyed the early section of the book about the very first humans to live in Britain and Ireland. This is amazing as the author reminds the reader just how different the countryside was then. The size of the population in the country then being little bigger than a large village. There were even different species of human .
I must admit to having a few quibbles. I would have liked to know more about the origin of settlements and the acquisition of intelligence and speech, but appreciate that these are specialist fields.
Viewers familiar with Channel 4's "Time Team" will be able to vouch for Francis Pryor's expertise in his field, although he frequently cites other significant archeologists in this book - even if he does not agree with them. All in all, this is an excellent introduction to pre-history and I very much expect that many readers will want to explore the subject further after reading this book. An essential purchase for fans of history books.
It is possible to see how keen the author is for his subject, that comes across clearly. By beening so keen the reader does also start to feel the same away about this history, which is the history of all peoples of these Islands.
One comment is that I was taught and have always understood that the Romans never really visited Ireland.
Despite an easy and at times chatty style, the book covers a huge amount of information and some fairly tricky concepts. I think Pryor has aimed it the well-read amateur, with the intention of getting across his personal reading of our prehistory. Pryor's own work in East Anglia has led him to a view that continuity is far more of a feature of the population of these islands than dislocation; a very different perspective from that of older theories, which tended to see change in terms of invasion and displacement, rather than contact and communication.
"Britain BC" is rarely dry, and at times is a very enjoyable read, even if following the thread takes a lot of concentration. Anyone reading the reviews here will understand that the picture of prehistory Pryor presents is a personal one, and one that many disagree with. Some clearly dislike his style - personally, I enjoyed it. Read it with that in mind, and for balance try some of the other writers on the subject. I can particularly draw your attention to Hengeworld, a book which, for all its faults, is an excellent read.
My favourite aspect of the book is the little glimpse it gives of the days before the system that has us all by the throats nowadays came to be in place , we was free (within the confines of the human condition) and naturally creating our own social structures and developing our own more tangible spiritual aspects to life and ritual.
Will definitely be looking up more of Francis Pryor's books.
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