Books : reviews

Richard Bradley.
The Social Foundations of Prehistoric Britain.
Longman. 1984

Archaeologists have found it much easier to talk about prehistoric settlement patterns or prehistoric economics than the types of society that gave them life. Richard Bradley’s book is a timely attempt to break out of these limitations, and to explore the evidence for social organisation and social change in Britain between the introduction of farming and the Roman conquest.

The main body of the book consists of a series of chapters, chronologically arranged, each of which examines one of the main phases of British prehistory through detailed discussion of a key theme. There arc five such themes: the importance of ancestry among the earliest farmers; the production and exchange of fine artefacts before the adoption of metals; the importance of elaborate monuments and burials during the Neolithic and Bronze Age periods; the use and deposition of rich metalwork; and, finally, the changing scale of political relations during the late prehistoric period. These thematic chapters are followed by a discussion which draws these separate strands together in an account of our prehistory as a whole. Throughout, Richard Bradley’s emphasis is on the development and maintenance of power. This is an important development in the study of prehistory, since modern archaeologists have been extremely wary of addressing themselves to the social implications of their data. Indeed this is one of the first books to be concerned specifically with the character of prehistoric society in Britain. Yet the issues which Mr Bradley examines systematically here are the very issues which must have mattered most to the people archaeologists are studying.

Richard Bradley.
The Significance of Monuments.
Routledge. 1998

Richard Bradley.
An Archaeology of Natural Places.
Routledge. 2000

Richard Bradley.
Ritual and Domestic Life in Prehistoric Europe.
Routledge. 2005