Many years ago, I read Alfred Watkin's eccentric account of ancient monuments, the wonderful "The Old Straight Track", but was interested to learn shortly afterwards just how flawed this book was. All of a sudden, alot of the mystery and magic about this era disappeared. 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.
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