Kent Archaeological Review extract

Book Reviews.
by Jim Williams, Anne Mc Leod.


Three books that came in together for review give a broad view of modern history. Although rather remote from the usual type of archaeological matters reported in KAR the subjects of these volumes are just as important in the general study of our predecessors.

Victoria's Heyday by J B Priestly (Published by Penguin Books, price 2.25) deals strictly with ten glorious years of Victoria's reign from 1850 to 1860. Glorious in engineering achievement and the arts, perhaps, but the plight of the industrial poor and the events that led to, and the handling of, the Crimean war rather tarnishes the glory.

Victorian Engineering by L T C Rolt (Pelican series, Penguin Books, price 75p.) an excellent starter for Industrial archaeologists not only the story of power and achievement but also of apathy and missed opportunity. A few line drawings of the basic principles would have been appreciated.

Lusitania by Colin Simpson (Penguin Books, price 50p.) was perhaps the most exciting and disturbing of the three.

The sinking of this giant prestige vessel as an act of war, a war that many thought could and should be fought to a set of rules, must be regarded as a major historical event in that it was the first and most dramatic of the events that led to the eventual entry of the United States into the First World War. Many of the documents relating to this event have now been made available for public inspection and the author has used them to tell a remarkable and compelling story. A story that is not only full of all kinds of political intrigue scheming and skulduggery, that is, one supposes, all part of the politicians art of war but also of short sightedness, neglect, ambition and personal feuds at top government level. The tragedy, in the form of disgracing some of the witnesses, was continued into the inquiry which was conducted before Lord Mersey who was so disturbed by the proceedings that he declined his fee and confessed to his children that 'The Lusitania case was a damned dirty business'. A book which must be read to be believed.

Reviewed by Jim Williams.

by Malcolm Todd
Published by Hutchinson Educational, price 5.50 Reviewed by Jim Williams.

A glance through the ample bibliography of this book shows that the people of Europe, who lived outside the bounds of the Roman Empire, have received scant attention from English scholars and authors. In the period dealt with, from the late pre-Roman Iron Age to the begining of the 4th century AD, the writer treats us to a wealth of information on the most important of these people, the early Germans, whose later migrations were to carry them over most of Europe. Of this vast subject the author has concentrated on a general survey of early Germanic material culture and has left aside the history of these people and their external relations. The absence of any mention of their contacts with Britain I found frustrating, but hopefully, we may be treated to further enlightenment on the subject from the pen of Mr Todd because, comprehensive though his bibliography may be, there is still the language barrier for many of us.

by D W Harding (8.00)
by B W Cunliffe (9.50) Reviewed by Anne Mc Leod.

These two new books, very strangely from the same publisher (Routledge & Kegan Paul), appeared in 1974 and immediately became standard referenceworks for the Iron Age. Mr Harding claims his to be a student textbook as a comprehensive factual survey and if Prof.Cunliffe has written a very useful textbook then the other study is a detailed commentary on the Iron Age.

Both books are well-illustrated, though it is a pity that the Cunliffe drawings are so sketchy and many scales wrong. The photographs, plans, drawings of small-finds and pottery will prove an invaluable aid to all those interested in Iron Age studies.


By Roger J A Wilson
Published by Constable & Co. Ltd. (Price 2.95).

This book presents for the first time a comprehensive guide to the visible remains of Roman Britain. It is intended primarily for the non-specialist reader who has an interest in his country's past, but it will also be found useful by students of Roman Britain who seek precise information about all Roman excavations and earthworks that are permanently accessible.

Over 230 sites are described in full in the main text, and an additional 130 are listed in an appendix. Nearly everyone has been personally visited by the author, who has also provided full details of access. There are ten chapters, each covering a separate area of the country, as well as an introduction, a list of museums, and a full bibliography. The Foreward is by Professor J M C Toynbee. (141 illustrations, 11 maps, 365 pages)


A new parish history called "Fordwich - the Lost Port" was published in April. It is a companion volume to the highly successful "Sturry - The Changing Scene" and as well as containing articles on almost all aspects of the history of Fordwich, will also have several important contributions on Sturry, the result of research done since 1972.

"Fordwich - The Lost Port" is illustrated by Roger Higham and has 128 pages, with map etc. Its many contributors include names well known to Kent local history readers - Gregory Blaxland, Kenneth Gravett, Frank Jenkins, Anne Oakley, R W Paine, S E Rigold, Anne Roper, R J Spain, William Urry, John Whyman are among them.

Copies are obtainable from The Pilgrim's Bookshop, 29 St Margaret's Street, Canterbury, or Miss K H McIntosh, Invergordon, Sturry, Canterbury, Kent CT2 ONG. (Price 1; hardback 2).

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