Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Review: Stonehenge: The Story of a Sacred Landscape

Stonehenge: The Story of a Sacred Landscape Stonehenge: The Story of a Sacred Landscape by Francis Pryor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Stonehenge. Just the name can conjure up that iconic image of the standing stones and sarsens against the background of the Salisbury Plain. Rightly so, it is a World Heritage site, but it is an enigma as it actual purpose can still only be speculated about. Was it a celestial calendar? Or a ritual site? Perhaps it was used for sacrifices, or used as a focus for the Neolithic peoples who built it. Whatever its purpose, we know that the area has been used for millennia as a place of significance with the first man made changes being made around 3000 BC.

Pryor is an expert in the Bronze and Iron Ages, but his particular speciality is Flag Fen, a huge site in Cambridgeshire that was used extensively for ritual purposes. Whilst he is not an expert on Stonehenge, he does have a gift for seeing the landscape as those people would have done. In this book he draws on the very latest in archaeology and research to give us a broad history of the monument, explores how a range of people have seen and used the site ove the years and considers the context of the site in the wider landscape.

Pryor’s ability to immerse himself in the age and the ability of see the landscape through their eyes, means that we get an expert view of the way that it evolved and changes, without descending into dry academic speak. As well as the rigorous writing, the book is full of excellent photos, high quality plans and beautiful pictures of Stonehenge. It is comprehensive without being complicated and well worth reading.

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