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Britain Begins af Barry Cunliffe
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Britain Begins (udgave 2014)

af Barry Cunliffe (Forfatter)

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
1233172,334 (4.17)2
Britain Begins is nothing less than the story of the origins of the British and the Irish peoples, from around 10,000 BC to the eve of the Norman Conquest. Using the most up to date archaeological evidence together with new work on DNA and other scientific techniques which help us to trace the origins and movements of these early settlers, Barry Cunliffe offers a rich narrative account of the first islanders - who they were, where they came from, and how they interacted one with another. Underlying this narrative throughout is the story of the sea, which allowed the islanders and their continental neighbours to be in constant contact. The story told by the archaeological evidence, in later periods augmented by historical texts, satisfies our need to know who we are and where we come from. But before the development of the discipline of archaeology, people used what scraps there were, gleaned from Biblical and classical texts, to create a largely mythological origin for the British. Britain Begins also explores the development of these early myths, which show our ancestors attempting to understand their origins. And, as Cunliffe shows, today's archaeologists are driven by the same desire to understand the past - the only real difference is that we have vastly more evidence to work with.… (mere)
Medlem:victoriarota
Titel:Britain Begins
Forfattere:Barry Cunliffe (Forfatter)
Info:Oxford University Press (2014), Edition: Reprint, 568 pages
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek
Vurdering:
Nøgleord:Celtic History and Culture, Early Europe

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Britain Begins af Barry Cunliffe

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Chock full of archaeology, which makes for slow reading, and lots of place names are tossed out in a way that the author seems to assume his reader will know where they are or what their importance might be. But it was super interesting to learn about the populations and cultures that have moved into and out of the British Isles since the last ice age, mixing and marrying along the way. It reminds us that there is no such thing as a "pure" blood line. The author also reviews the various theories and ideas scholars have historically had about early Britain and Ireland, and how those evolved. The book ends with the Norman Conquest. ( )
  Zaiga | Sep 23, 2019 |
An extremely readable overview of the history of Britain for the general reader who wants a rigorous introduction, without getting bogged down in footnotes and citations. It has relevant illustrations and useful maps setting out sites of particular interest mentioned in the text.
To use Barry Cunliffe's words:
This book attempts to do two things: first, to give an account of how past writers have tried to understand the peoples of these islands and where they have come from, and then to offer a narrative of the first 12,000 years or so of the British and Irish based on current understandings. Any such narrative must, of course, be highly selective. This is not an archaeology of early Britain and Ireland.
Around 12,000 years ago, as the ice-sheets receded and temperatures began to rise, bands of hunter-gatherers started to populate the lands later to become the British Isles. The narrative outlined in the book has stressed the innate mobility of humankind, a mobility that is inherent in our genetic make-up.
Mobility may be motivated largely by instinct, but it is controlled within a social structure designed to encourage and reward it. Mobility may also be forced by demographic pressure. A community that has reached the holding capacity of its territory will encourage migration, usually by a section of its young. In more extreme cases populations may be driven from their lands by marauding neighbours or by environmental factors.

Cunliffe has an excellent prose style, so this is an easy read. He also has knowledge and experience, lightly worn, to know when to provide detailed examples and when to "pull back" and provide an interpretation of the longue duree.
I found the brief process of noting past generations interpretation of the archaeological records before setting out the details and basis of current understanding to be very useful. Occasionally Cunliffe will take a larger European view, but this is always relevant to subsequent developments in Britain. There are also three"interlude" chapters where Cunliffe examines issues outside of the chronological framework the chapters otherwise follow.
Cunliffe also peppers his narrative with interesting and humorous facts, retaining your interest by varying his delivery.
There is also an excellent guide to further reading at the end, as good books lead to others.

I read this book in two sessions, reading the first four chapters, which made me read more widely, in particular The Making of the Middle Sea about the populating of the Mediterranean and books about the Celts to tie in with an exhibition at the British Museum, before completing the book. ( )
1 stem CarltonC | Jan 24, 2016 |
Another wonderful book from historian Barry Cunliffe, who can meld archaelogy and history into a fascinating tale better than any other writer I know. This book traces the history of the British Isles from the earliest human habitation up to the Norman Conquest. Most of the book, therefore, is based on archaelogical records rather than on written ones; it presents these so clearly that one can envision them, and shows how they suggest a pattern of history. There are a lot of unknowns, Cunliffe makes very clear, but there are also strong probabilities. Absolutely fascinating, and an engaging read as well ( )
  annbury | Jul 13, 2013 |
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Britain Begins is nothing less than the story of the origins of the British and the Irish peoples, from around 10,000 BC to the eve of the Norman Conquest. Using the most up to date archaeological evidence together with new work on DNA and other scientific techniques which help us to trace the origins and movements of these early settlers, Barry Cunliffe offers a rich narrative account of the first islanders - who they were, where they came from, and how they interacted one with another. Underlying this narrative throughout is the story of the sea, which allowed the islanders and their continental neighbours to be in constant contact. The story told by the archaeological evidence, in later periods augmented by historical texts, satisfies our need to know who we are and where we come from. But before the development of the discipline of archaeology, people used what scraps there were, gleaned from Biblical and classical texts, to create a largely mythological origin for the British. Britain Begins also explores the development of these early myths, which show our ancestors attempting to understand their origins. And, as Cunliffe shows, today's archaeologists are driven by the same desire to understand the past - the only real difference is that we have vastly more evidence to work with.

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