A History of Ancient Britain
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A History of Ancient Britain

4.26 of 5 stars 4.26  ·  rating details  ·  151 ratings  ·  23 reviews
Who were the first Britons, and what sort of world did they occupy? In A HISTORY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN Neil Oliver turns a spotlight on the very beginnings of the story of Britain; on the first people to occupy these islands and their battle for survival.

There has been human habitation in Britain, regularly interrupted by Ice Ages, for the best part of a million years. The la...more
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published (first published September 15th 2011)
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Tim Vicary
This is a beautiful book. Neil Oliver presented the BBC TV series on this subject, which got me hooked, and he writes wonderfully, with a real enthusiasm and reverence for the subject. There are so many things here I didn't know, about the immense spread of time before written history, the trade and communications throughout this ancient world, their astonishing knowledge of astronomy, mining, and metal work, and much more, all based on archaeological discoveries which becoming more extensive an...more
Camilla
A History of Ancient Britain is nothing less than a thoughtful, fascinating and enlivening account of life in ancient Britain, starting way back with the ice ages and leading up to the time of the Romans. Neil Oliver reveals the incredible extent of the layers of human occupation of Britain, referring to 'deep time' as the sense of the massive history that lies beneath us all. All through the book I found myself wanting to mark pages that mentioned places I'd love to go and see, or go and look u...more
Sarah
There is something about Neil Oliver that is completely enthralling. Whether it is watching him weave his magic on the television, or reading his books, his passion for his subject is paramount. His enthusiasm is contagious. His knowledge utterly enviable. He is a fascinating story-teller of tales that are true.

As the written version of the BBC's documentary series of the same name, A History of Ancient Britain is certainly no exception. Although it is quite lengthy and absolutely packed-full of...more
Andrea
Saw this in Waterstone's in Oxford, and didn't buy it then (a mistake, since it's not available yet in bookstores here, nor on Kindle!). I recognized the horse from our visits in and around the country surrounding Stonehenge and Avebury, when we sought out Uffington to get a glimpse of the chalk horse. I have developed an interest in pre-Roman and Roman Britain, which this book covers. Luckily, UChicago library had a copy, and I'm enjoying Mr. Oliver's very readable (if a little fanciful) accoun...more
Lillian Carl
Apparently it's the tie-in book to a BBC series, which I'd now love to see, even though no TV show could approach the depth Oliver brings to his book.

He does an excellent job of presenting the Ice Age, the Stone Age, the Bronze Age---all the way up to the Roman presence in Britain---even as he points out how artificial is the concept of "ages". He speculates on what ancient man (and woman) may have been thinking, even as he admits no one could possibly know. He writes beautiful passages teeming...more
Marit Nathalie
Jun 18, 2014 Marit Nathalie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone remotely interested in history
This book is even better than A history of Scotland, in terms of his infectious enthusiasm and vast knowledge of the subject shining through even brighter.
This is world history viewed and analysed from a well placed rock in Scotland.- He manages to not bog the reader down in minute technical detail meant for his fellow archeologists. Instead one is invited to take part in his fascination with everything from stone tools to Roman villas and the mere fact that we're are here at all, and all the t...more
Marina
Sep 09, 2013 Marina marked it as unfinished  ·  review of another edition
When I got this book I was looking forward to read the ancient history of britain, for which I knew few things. Ok, only one thing, Stonehenge. But this book failed to keep my attention.

The author describes everything in a way like he assumes that we know about all the things he talks, just that he gives a more clear interpretation. The style of the book seems more like a documentary script. It is easy to imagine the author walking around the monuments he describes. But still, everytime he star...more
Heather


Archeologists are detectives par excellence. This book reveals so much that they have discovered - and are still discovering - about our earliest times, and Neil Oliver presents these discoveries to us in such a way that we feel part of the process. For me, the culmination of all this history is the clear picture it gives of how the British character has evolved, patted into its present shape by history and geography. Concurrent with that thread is the story of the independence of the Scots - e...more
Arnout Brokking
Verdict: 4 ludwigs

BBC-presenter Neil Oliver, you know the long-haired lout with the thick Scottish accent, takes you along for a fascinating and enthralling ride through the (pre)history of Britain.

Why should you read it?

Not only are the facts and cases presented super-interesting, but Oliver's enthusiasm and passion for the subject shines through every paragraph. A joy to read, it will make you want to visit Britain. Like right now!

Why should you not read it?

If you're not interested in human hi...more
Gail Amendt
I read this book to provide some background and context to some historical fiction I am planning to read in the near future. Being Canadian, I have little knowledge of ancient and Roman Britain, and felt I needed to do some research before attempting to read about Boudicca and the Romans. This book is full of fascinating information, and the author's passion for the subject matter is obvious. He has managed to make what could be very dry information very readable. Even so, I found it slow going...more
Dc96
Fascinating insights into where we've come from.
Stuart Foster
Excellent book. Very readable
M.h.
Mar 22, 2013 M.h. rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone interested in history and England
This book was a guess, and it turned out to be so much more than an average good guess.
I had never expected a non-fiction book to be entrancing, or remotely page-turning-like, but this one defenitely was.Did you know that when the Celts started their rituals among the towering trilithons of Stonehenge, the monument was already ancient too them? Neither did I.
If you are interested in the history of Britain before the Anglo-Saxons invaded the country (yelling "hwaet" and hurling axes) this is the...more
Misssharice
Jan 13, 2013 Misssharice rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History fans
Recommended to Misssharice by: A bookstore
A great read. It really made me think about how Britain was shaped. Some elements of it made me a bit panicky - I don't like the subject of death and a book concerned about centuries and centuries of ancestors, burials, bones and killings didn't make for easy bedtime reading for me. That aside, I was fascinated to learn more about ice age Britain, a tsunami that wiped out most of the island's inhabitants, the mystery behind Stonehenge and so much more.
Jane Curtis
Thoroughly readable account of the earliest history of Britain.
Erik
For me a very fascinating theory on the channel being the reason the British being British and later on evolving in the rulers of the earth. Seriously, a very entertaining book on prehistory for non-prehistorians like myself. Lots of wonderful facts, towards the end the author gets carried away a little bit.
Paul Cheney
Neil Oliver is proving to be a historian of some note. The tie in TV series of the same name was excellent, and the book maintains that.

It covers the periods of history from the Mesolithic to the Romans, covered in relatively broad brush strokes whist having enough detail to captivate.

A must read for history fans.
Katherine
This is a little different then history I am used to reading, but that is because of the topic (which requires a lot of prodding and pulling the evidence to determine the meaning) and the 'journalistic' style. Overall, I enjoyed it .
Kacey
Jan 08, 2013 Kacey is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
This is pleasure reading, even though it's so close to my research area. I'm slightly in love with Neil Oliver (must be the Scottish) and prehistory, so let's see what he's like at writing about it...
Jonathan Martin
An enthralling book. The passion of Neil Oliver comes through on every page with detailed historical and personal accounts of events. Informative and throughly enjoyable.
Jane
Excellent - Neil Oliver ensures what could be a dry topic is covered in sufficient detail to keep the reader interested.
Lizanne Whitlow
Can't find the Region 1 DVD but still looking. Love anything by this author!
John Kirkby
enjoyed what initially may seem a dull subject.
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Neil Oliver is a Scottish archaeologist, historian, broadcaster and writer who has become widely known as the presenter of BBC television's series A History of Scotland and Coast.
He lives in Stirling with his wife and three children.
More about Neil Oliver...
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“Ginger people! D'you know what they are? Our aborigines ... that's what! GINGERIGINES! Look at 'em ... they were 'ere first. All this is theirs!
Al Murray, Pub Landlord”
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