This article appeared in the Spring 1978 (Issue #51) edition of the Kent Archaeological Review.
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TEN FACES OF THE UNIVERSE by Fred Hoyle.
(Heinemann. Price £4.80).
Reviewed by Les Murrell.
This is Sir Fred Hoyle's 200-page sprint around the Universe. The ten faces of the title each represent a different aspect of the subject, among them physics, mathematics, astrophysics, biology and geophysics. It is often stimulating, sometimes provocative, occasionally verging on the incomprehensible for the layman, but always eminently readable.
Among the attractions are intriguing glimpses of the author's own childhood; excursions into such diverse subjects as quantum mechanics, the Irish problem and the future of the human species; and an abundance of pictures, maps and diagrams. Inevitably, the compression of such an immense subject creates its own problems and leads to many omissions; but from our own relatively parochial viewpoint the most regrettable absentee is archaeology.
ON STONEHENGE by Fred Hoyle
Reviewed by Alice Johns.
As might be expected, the author has used many mathematical formulae to put forward his theory that Stonehenge was a huge instrument used to calculate solar and lunar eclipses. From an archaeological viewpoint, it is a pity that he did not elaborate his ideas in more simple terms such as he used to explain radio-carbon dating! He accuses archaeologists and prehistorians of being primarily concerned with artifacts; tools, pottery and mortuary relics; and not the 'intellectual conceptions and abstractions of a non-literary people'. The theories put forward would have required observations being made by Neolithic man over many years and several generations and of course the storing of the data so obtained (whether by memory or otherwise). When archaeologists discover artifacts which reflect such rigid organisation and sophistication — surely some sort of tallies could have been kept on potsherds — then the theories may be more widely accepted.
THE SAXON SHORE Edited by D E Johnston
(C BA Publication).
Reviewed by Alice Johns.
The recent publication of this volume on the Saxon Shore, long awaited by Kent archaeologists, proved something of an anti-climax on arrival. This slender paper- back, with only 92 pages including index and bibliography, costs a severe £6.50. Its cover of the well-known British side of the Saxon Shore is very far below what the title would suggest and apart from Dover, Brancaster and Lympne which get brief mentions and no detail, all the other British sites are virtually ignored.
There are brief discussions on some of the obvious problems, on the historical background and on the late Roman military arrangements. However, what just saves the publication from almost instant oblivion is the section dealing with the evidence from Gaul. Here chapters on the Channel Islands, Boulogne, Alet, Brest, and Oudenberg are a most welcome addition for the British reader and with many useful illustrations.
It seems that this volume is in fact some years premature. What with work still in progress at Dover, Brancaster and Reculver it seems certain that knowledge of both the Classis Britannica and Saxon Shore is about to be transformed.