Discover the hidden corners and forgotten crevices of Britain's landscapes, from lost rural treasures to unseen urban gems.
Landscapes reflect and shape our behaviour. They make us who we are and bear witness to the shifting patterns of human life over the generations.
Bringing to bear a lifetime's digging, archaeologist Francis Pryor delves into Britain's hidden urban and rural landscapes, from Whitby Abbey to the navvy camp at Risehill in Cumbria, from Tintagel to Tottenham's Broadwater Farm. Through fields, woods, moors, roads, tracks and towns, he reveals the stories of our physical surroundings and what they meant to the people who formed them, used them and lived in them. These landscapes, he stresses, are our common physical inheritance. If we can understand how to make them yield up their secrets, it will help us, their guardians, to maintain and shape them for future generations.
Archaeologist and detective, Alan Cadbury, returns for his second adventure. In The Lifers’ Club, he unravelled the background to a violent death on an archaeological dig in the Fens, a wild marshy region in the east of England. The Way, the Truth and the Dead takes us to the black peatlands of the south, around the glorious cathedral city of Ely. It’s a watery landscape where the many ancient dykes, drains and rivers conceal dark secrets.
Alan finds himself the Director of an important Roman and early Medieval excavation at the little hamlet of Fursby, not far from Littleport. But shortly before he starts work, he is contacted by his old friend, Detective Chief Inspector Richard Lane. Lane needs help – a body has been found in a river near the dig. And the dead person is an archaeologist, an old friend of Alan’s.
It soon becomes clear that this will be no ordinary excavation: the remains are of national importance and their preservation is outstanding. So it comes as no surprise when a major television series decides to adopt it as a flagship project, opening the dig up to the public at a time when the rural community would rather keep things quiet…
In Home Francis Pryor, author of The Making of the British Landscape, archaeologist and broadcaster, takes us on his lifetime's quest: to discover the origins of family life in prehistoric Britain
Francis Pryor's search for the origins of our island story has been the quest of a lifetime. In Home, the Time Team expert explores the first nine thousand years of life in Britain, from the retreat of the glaciers to the Romans' departure. Tracing the settlement of domestic communities, he shows how archaeology enables us to reconstruct the evolution of habits, traditions and customs. But this, too, is Francis Pryor's own story: of his passion for unearthing our past, from Yorkshire to the west country, Lincolnshire to Wales, digging in freezing winters, arid summers, mud and hurricanes, through frustrated journeys and euphoric discoveries. Evocative and intimate, Home shows how, in going about their daily existence, our prehistoric ancestors created the institution that remains at the heart of the way we live now: the family.
'Under his gaze, the land starts to fill with tribes and clans wandering this way and that, leaving traces that can still be seen today . . . Pryor feels the land rather than simply knowing it' - Guardian
Alan Cadbury is a professional archaeologist: a digger of ancient sites and a man who likes to unravel the mysteries and meaning of the past. For many years, Alan has worked with the 'Circuit Diggers', so called because they work the 'circuit', moving from one excavation to another, as new sites open across Britain. Most of the sites they dig are ahead of industrial development, new housing estates, gravel quarries, or roads. They are a down-to-earth bunch; but they all know what they want from life. Feared by respectable citizens, they are always covered in mud, deeply suntanned and drunk (or stoned) on their days off.
Like others on the circuit, Alan Cadbury is obsessive: he won't let problems lie, even when he's slumped drunk in a lonely bedsit, somewhere in the Fens. But there's another side to him, too: in the late 90s he helped to give a forensic archaeology course and there met Richard Lane, now a senior detective in the Leicestershire force. DCI Lane helps him tackle new cases. But this is his first big one: an 'honour killing', perpetrated eight years ago in Leicester.
It's a dark tale of past wrongdoing and modern criminality. And it's not without violence. Alan's life may be harsh and at times unpleasant, but it's not likely to be very long, either. Oh yes, archaeology can be a very dirty business…
Former president of the Council for British Archaeology, Dr Francis Pryor has spent over thirty years studying our prehistory. He has excavated sites as diverse as Bronze Age farms, field systems and entire Iron Age villages. He appeared frequently on TV's Time Team and is the author of The Making of the British Landscape, Seahenge, as well as Britain BC and Britain AD, both of which he adapted and presented as Channel 4 series.