Iron Age Communities in Britain: An Account of England, Scotland and Wales from the Seventh Century BC until the Roman Conquest


Author: Barry Cunliffe
Publisher: Taylor and Francis Inc.
Date Published: 1971 (First Edition), 1991, 2005 (Revised Fourth Edition)
ISBN13: 9780415562928

Synopsis:Since its first publication in 1971, Barry Cunliffe’s monumental survey has established itself as a classic of British archaeology. This fully revised fourth edition maintains the qualities of the earlier editions, whilst taking into account the significant developments that have moulded the discipline in recent years. Barry Cunliffe here incorporates new theoretical approaches, technological advances and a range of new sites and finds, ensuring that Iron Age Communities in Britain remains the definitive guide to the subject.

Review: This is fast becoming one of my favorite books on the subject. It is a treasure, simply put. I’ve become very used to Barry Cunliffe’s writing style and the way he divides his books and this book is no different.

The book is divided into four parts each one shines the light on something different. Part I is the introduction where you are given a history of the study of the Iron Age. Part II talks about time and space. The author here describes (as he always does in his books) the parameters he will be using in the book. You are told the time period, and the places he will be discussing. You are also given a timeline of the history he is looking into. Part III discusses the themes, what they are, and the different settlements that can be found. Part IV discusses Iron Age society, social change and the models and systems involved. The book also has three Appendices; (A) discusses pottery, (B) is a note on radiocarbon dating, and (C) is a list of principle sites. The bibliography listed is a dream.

I read the book once through all together so that I know where everything is. Then I went back and re-read parts of it with concentration. This book should be read this way because there is just too much information there to do it justice by reading it once. It is best to pick a region in Britain and go through everything written about it in the book, digest the information then go back and pick another region and so on. This is a book that should be kept as a reference, and one I know I will be reading or looking through time and again.

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3 thoughts on “Iron Age Communities in Britain: An Account of England, Scotland and Wales from the Seventh Century BC until the Roman Conquest

  1. Archeoten. says:

    I have read the original edition of this book and i´m very interested in this new “re-mastered” version, i suppose that B. Cunliffe made references in the discussion of the final part to his new approach about the problem of “celticity” of British Isles ( ABraZo Project)

    thank for the information about that

  2. Dafydd says:

    It’s an excellent book, I agree. I’d say it’s the best book that’s been written on ancient Britain. I did find the section on pottery rather dull and confusing, but that was because the pottery line drawings were placed in the back of the book, rather than in the relevent section. The other parts of the book were fantastic though.

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