Books : reviews

Francis Pryor.
Farmers in Prehistoric Britain.
Tempus. 1998

Francis Pryor.
Seahenge: a quest for life and death in Bronze Age Britain.
HarperCollins. 2001

Francis Pryor.
Britain BC: life in Britain and Ireland before the Romans.
HarperCollins. 2003

Francis Pryor.
The Making of the British Landscape.
Penguin. 2010

Francis Pryor.
Home: a time traveller's tales from Britain's prehistory.
Penguin. 2014

Was life in prehistoric Britain really just a brutal, rootless struggle for survival? In Home, Francis Pryor reveals a completely different picture of the past, showing that hearth and home lay at the heart of our ancestors’ lives, and led to some of the most profound advances in human society.

Francis Pryor.
Stonehenge: the story of a sacred landscape.
Head of Zeus. 2016

Perched on the chalk uplands ot Salisbury Plain, Stonehenge is as unmistakable as it is enigmatic. For medieval chroniclers it was the home of the wizard Merlin: for the antiquarian John Aubrey it was a place of Druidic ceremonial. Constable and Turner painted it. Twenty-first century neopagans flock to worship at it.

But it is the efforts of archaeologists that have done the most to elucidate the mysteries of Britain’s most celebrated prehistoric monument. Francis Pryor draws on the latest research to tell the story of the construction of Stonehenge between 3000 and 1500 BC. The building of the stones coincided with a time of slow but significant change in prehistoric Britain: populations were growing; farming was becoming more intensive; an infrastructure of roads, rivers and settlements was being developed. Stonehenge was a source of stability for our early Bronze Age ancestors in an age of cultural transformation.

Accessible and authoritative, Stonehenge offers a fascinating and revelatory account of the history and meaning of a sacred landscape.

Francis Pryor.
The Lifers' Club.
Unbound. 2014

Alan Cadbury is a thirty-something circuit digger. A talented archaeologist with an eye for detail, he is more comfortable unearthing ancient civilisations than he is living in the modem world.

That is, until a chance discovery of a newspaper article reveals that Ali Kabul, a young volunteer from a dig he supervised, has been accused of murdering his own sister. Convinced that All is innocent, Alan embarks on his own private investigation which takes him into the depths of prison society and the heights of modern-day English aristocracy. But the deeper Alan digs into the mysteries of the past, the more he is forced to question everything that he previously held as true.

This gripping debut thriller by Time Team archaeologist Francis Pryor is a study of family, identity and honour. Set in the fens, the wild landscape is a character in its own right: full of secrets, waiting to be discovered.

Francis Pryor.
The Way, the Truth and the Dead.
Unbound. 2017

Archaeologist Alan Cadbury is nursing a broken heart and a bruised ego. Motivated by a dwindling bank balance and the need for a renewed sense of purpose, he returns to the Fens, looking for work.

When he is contacted by his partner in crime, DCI Lane, with the news that his old friend and fellow archaeologist Stan Beaton has been found drowned in a river, Alan’s life is turned on its head. Stan had been surveying the estate of the Cripps family, a large, insular clan, which, according to local gossip, is cursed.

The Crippses recruit Alan to continue Stan’s work, but this proves more than he bargained for. What he uncovers there soon attracts media attention: the site becomes the focus of the next series of popular archaeology TV show Test Pit Challenge, and Alan himself becomes a reluctant media sensation.

However, the world portrayed by the cameras is a far cry from the rivalries and dysfunction behind the scenes. Then, when Alan’s old flame Harriet, a bones specialist, appears at the dig, things get really complicated.

Determined to discover the truth behind Stan’s death, Alan’s obsessive investigation reveals that the mysteries of the present are rooted in the long-buried secrets of the past. As more ‘accidental’ deaths pile up, it seems that the Cripps Curse may be more than idle superstition. The only question is, who will be the next victim?

Francis Pryor.
Flag Fen: prehistoric Fenland centre.
English Heritage. 1991

In order to reconstruct ancient lifestyles the archaeologist has to rebuild the ancient landscape. Francis Pryor’s personal account of the discovery and excavation of the prehistoric sites at Flag Fen and Fengate sets out to do just this. The region he studies is rich in prehistory and includes: • A Neolithic pit grave • Bronze Age ditched field systems • Flag Fen – a massive timber platform • An avenue of posts with votive deposits • An Iron Age village

The Fens of eastern England form a very distinct environment which produced particular patterns of prehistoric human occupation. The unusual environmental conditions also meant that special excavation techniques had to be used, some of them developed as the work progressed. Francis Pryor is also concerned with ecological aspects and the problems of conservation and presentation of the sites, including modern experimental reconstructions and the opening of Flag Fen to visitors.

With over 100 maps, plans, reconstructions and photographs, this is the complete companion to Flag Fen and its region.

Francis Pryor, Michael Bamforth.
Flag Fen, Peterborough: excavation and research 1995-2007.
Oxbow. 2010