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 coastal 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.
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April 27, 2011
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