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Pagan Britain

4.34  ·  Rating Details ·  88 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
Britain's pagan past, with its mysterious monuments, atmospheric sites, enigmatic artifacts, bloodthirsty legends, and cryptic inscriptions, is both enthralling and perplexing to a resident of the twenty-first century. In this ambitious and thoroughly up-to-date book, Ronald Hutton reveals the long development, rapid suppression, and enduring cultural significance of ...more
Hardcover, 496 pages
Published May 13th 2014 by Yale University Press (first published August 1st 2013)
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Mar 24, 2016 Andy rated it liked it
Shelves: history
So ive read this diligently for a while now & in the 4 page conclusion section it tells me that basically...... we don’t really have a Scooby about Pagan man before the Romans......

I wanted to like it more.... I really did as a lot of research & effort & thought has gone into writing this but........

I feel slightly tricked as Ive not discovered anything amazing & revealing from reading this book about Pagan Britain from times before the Romans as I didn’t really count the Roman b
Tim Pendry

This may not be the definitive text on paganism in Britain before and during the Christian era but it is not going to be easily bettered in terms of grand narrative.

Hutton's approach, not at all unsympathetic to the way we all imaginatively reconstruct the world out of slender evidence, is highly sceptical of academic claims to know very much about paganism.

Until we reach the historical record, imperfectly represented for Roman evidence and only becoming clearer during the Middle Ages, what we h
I am quite impressed by the amount of research that clearly went into writing this book, and I love Hutton's ability to present multiple interpretations of data without trash talking any one view in particular, while still making clear the difficulties in relying on one interpretation versus another based on the available evidence.

What is so frustrating, though, is that because of the limited evidence and the impossibility of ever knowing for certain which interpretation is most accurate, I fel
Mar 06, 2014 Bettie☯ marked it as wish-list
Spotted in The Guardian. To seek the best deal...
Matthijs Krul
Oct 30, 2016 Matthijs Krul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a fantastic book. One learns more from one book by Ronald Hutton than from a whole library of folklorism and 'esoterica', and that is particularly true for this book. It's 400 dense pages in which Hutton with his typical flair and clarity discusses the archaeological, textual, and symbolic evidence about paganism in Britain. This book retains Hutton's characteristic union of extremely solid historiography and scientific discussion with a personal sympathy for the validity of mystical, ...more
Aug 16, 2015 Marks54 rated it really liked it
This is a fine book, even if it is a bit of a slog. My interest in the book came from wanting to prepare for a trip to northern England that would include some sites from a very long time ago - Hadrian's Wall, Lindisfarne, etc.. So I wanted to find a book that summed up the current state of research on Pagan Brittain but which will not come across as being as complex and inaccessible as the ultra technical materials that are often associated with specific study projects around iron age buildings ...more
Peter Dunn
Sep 19, 2014 Peter Dunn rated it it was amazing
This is one of those books where you learn something new on every second page, and the pages in between those each give you pause for thought. The main thing you learn is that many of the commonly held assumptions about this topic are simply wrong, and that much assumed ancient pagan practice or evidence has in fact a much younger pedigree. Still I do like the way that while he politely and painstakingly unpicks the supposed deep history of many of these things that he still leaves space for ...more
Nicola Bugg
Jun 03, 2014 Nicola Bugg rated it really liked it
This book was well written, and clearly the result of an awful lot of research. It was slightly disappointing, as the main conclusion is that there is very little solid evidence for any pagan religion! However, this is not really the fault of the book/author, but an honest reflection of the available evidence. It just didn't make for as riveting a read as I had hoped!

For me, the most interesting parts of the book were the initial discussion of the very earliest evidence of pagan Britain, and the
Ciaran Mcgrath
Oct 20, 2015 Ciaran Mcgrath rated it really liked it
More than just an overview of Paganism through the history and prehistory of Britain (Ireland is occasionally touched on), this is also a thorough consideration of how the experts and amateurs interpret the evidence available. The wealth of material discussed is fascinating, but equally impressive is the author's willingness to highlight where interpretation and wishful thinking stand in for evidence.
Dec 17, 2014 Maya rated it it was ok
Shelves: celtic-history
Hutton is usually a hit or miss for me and this book was definitely a miss. I just found my self skipping parts and skimming others. Will probably never read this book again.
Mary Catelli
A rather academic survey of all that is known. Much discussion of the evidence and how it can be interpreted.
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Ronald Hutton (born 1953) is an English historian who specializes in the study of Early Modern Britain, British folklore, pre-Christian religion and contemporary Paganism. A professor of history at the University of Bristol, Hutton has published fourteen books and has appeared on British television and radio.
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