Time's Anvil: England, Archaeology and the Imagination

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9780297867838: Time's Anvil: England, Archaeology and the Imagination

History thrives on stories. Time's Anvil explores archaeology's influence on what such stories say, how they are told, who tells them, and how we listen. In a dazzlingly wide-ranging exploration, Richard Morris casts fresh light on three quarters of a million years of history in the place we now think of as England. Drawing upon genres that are usually pursued in isolation—like biography, poetry, or physics—he finds potent links between things we might imagine to be unrelated. His subjects range from humanity's roots to the destruction of the wildwood, from the first farmers to industrialization, and from Tudor drama to 20th-century conflict. Each topic sits at a different point along the continuum between epoch and the fleeting moment. In part, this is a history of archaeology; in part, too, it is a personal account of the author's history in archaeology. But mainly it is about how the past is read, and about what we bring to the reading as well as what we find. The result is a book that defies categorization, but one which will by turns surprise, enthrall, and provoke.

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About the Author:

Born in 1947 Richard Morris grew up in Birmingham and studied English at Oxford. He began his career in archaeology as a member of the team excavating under York Minster in 1971. In the 1990s he was director of the Council of British Archaeology, where he helped to launch the popular magazine British Archaeology. He has taught at the universities of York, Leeds, and Huddersfield. He is a Frend Medallist of the Society of Antiquaries of London. In 2003 was appointed OBE for services to archaeology. His interests in churches, settlement, historical topography, cultural history, and aviation are reflected in many essays, articles, and books.

Review:

(Morris) mixes a history of archaeology with family memoirs and a vista of the past from the Mesolothic era to industrial Birmingham - his home soil. The result is a richly textured, and very moving hybrid: as studded with jewels as the mud around an Anglo-Saxon tomb. The ground beneath your feet will never feel the same again. -- Boyd Tonkin * INDEPENDENT * A Harrogate man's compelling and unusual history book has now been printed in paperback after making the longlist for this year's Samuel Johnson Non-Fiction Prize. -- Graham Chalmers * HARROGATE ADVERTISER * For too long we have been taught about the past from "above" - from eminent people, kind enough to spare their thoughts. This book allows us to regain possession and to make archaeology personal again. -- Francis Pryor * THE TIMES * An ambitious mixture of memoir, history and historiography, taking in England's prehistory and her later revolutions and battles, and en route offering a passionate paean to archaeology. * THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH * (An) undeniably curious book...the story of archeology, mixed with the author's personal and family history, and interspersed with a smattering of scientific discourse, and a fair bit of poetry. * BBC HISTORY * This compendious and rich portmanteau comprises an array of exercises in championing archaeology against those who would decry its academic and scientific validity. * LITERARY REVIEW * For Morris, this book is an 'expedition' into the past, and as such it is both expansive and singular. But Time's Anvil is also an impassioned history and defence of archeology, a history of humanity in England and a heartfelt mediation on transience and mortality. -- Nick Groom * THE INDEPENDENT * This fascinating book - a combination of the author's autobiography and a biography of the science of archaeology in England since the 17th century - suggests that some historical truths are found and proved, rather than created, by archaeology -- Dr Julian Litten * CHURCH TIMES * Combining literature and myth with science, it explores how the past is read and the relevance and role of archaeology while challenging assumptions about our history. * CHOICE * "This is a remarkable, and in many respects a very courageous book - he puts himself on the line" -- Francis Pryor * THE TIMES * The press release for this remarkable book announces that it 'defies categorisation'. It is not wrong. Longlisted for the Samuel Johnson prize, Time's Anvil contemplates what is now England over a span of 750,000 years. Sometimes we are left with snapshots, including the varying view from Paviland Cave over the last 29,000 years; elsewhere the text lingers, as with the felling of the Old Wood. Along the way we meet eminent practitioners of many disciplines, as archaeology itself emerges and the stories it tells evolve. 'Archaeology', we are told, 'might be seen as but a late ripple in the cult of ancestors'. An acquired taste, perhaps, but presenting archaeology in this way has created an especially thought-provoking read -- Matthew Symonds * ARCHAEOLOGY.CO.UK *

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Richard Morris
Published by Weidenfeld (2012)
ISBN 10: 0297867830 ISBN 13: 9780297867838
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Book Description Weidenfeld, 2012. Book Condition: New. Ranging from prehistory to the late 20th century, Morris's book is about how the past is read, and asks what light archaeology can shed on commonly held ideas about England's history. Bookseller Inventory # 217006

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