A personal and lyrical rediscovery of the history of England through archaeology and the imagination.
History thrives on stories. TIME'S ANVIL explores archaeology's influence on what such stories say, how they are told, who tells them and how we listen.
In a dazzlingly wide-ranging exploration, Richard Morris casts fresh light on three quarters of a million years of history in the place we now think of as England. Drawing upon genres that are usually pursued in isolation - like biography, poetry, or physics - he finds potent links between things we might imagine to be unrelated. His subjects range from humanity's roots to the destruction of the wildwood, from the first farmers to industrialization, and from Tudor drama to 20th-century conflict. Each topic sits at a different point along the continuum between epoch and the fleeting moment.
In part, this is a history of archaeology; in part, too, it is a personal account of the author's history in archaeology. But mainly it is about how the past is read, and about what we bring to the reading as well as what we find. The result is a book that defies categorisation, but one which will by turns surprise, enthral and provoke anyone who cares for England, who we are and where we have come from.
Richard Morris is emeritus professor of archaeology at the University of Huddersfield. He began his career working on excavations under York Minster in 1971. Since then he has worked as a university teacher, as director of the Council for British Archaeology, as director of the Leeds Institute for Medieval Studies, and as a writer and composer. His book Churches in the Landscape (1989) is widely regarded as a pioneering classic. Time's Anvil: England, Archaeology and the Imagination was longlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize and shortlisted for the Current Archaeology Book of the Year Award. He is completing a new biography of the aeronautical engineer Barnes Wallis, and working on a social history of interwar England from the air.