BRITAIN IN THE MIDDLE AGES by Francis Pryor

BRITAIN IN THE MIDDLE AGES

An Archaeological History
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Technological advancements in the field of archaeology substantially rewrite long-accepted historical facts about Britain.

Archaeologist Pryor has already meticulously mapped out key periods in his homeland’s history (Britain BC, 2005, etc.), so he’s perfectly placed to provide this historical overhaul of its Middle Ages. He begins by outlining the incredible changes that have occurred in British archaeology in recent years, as government spending increased from £3–£4 million in the 1980s to a colossal £40–£50 million in 2004. The opening chapters set the tone for the rest of this account. Writing in relaxed, non-academic, almost conversational prose, Pryor delineates the vast technological changes that have swept through the profession. His aim is to illustrate how different the Middle Ages were from the stagnant period scholars often portray it to be. In fact, according to the author, the Middle Ages paved the way for many modern marvels that we now take for granted. Pryor examines how the Vikings helped Britain create trade with other countries; he looks at the establishment of rudimentary local government outposts; and he analyzes the flourishing of churches across the country. He is also careful to pore over every detail dug up by recent archaeological finds, so he spends time exploring how roads developed into a network that still exists today and uses such developments to emphasize that this was a period of gradual change rather than radical transformation. For Pryor, this type of slow progress makes the era infinitely fascinating, and although the lack of excitement is perhaps why the period is so overlooked, readers who have more than a passing interest in the subject should find much to please them here.

An interesting take on an age that continues to influence the world.

Pub Date: March 15th, 2007
ISBN: 0-00-720361-6
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: HarperPerennial UK/Trafalgar
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2007




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