Britain has long been obsessed with its own history and identity, an island nation besieged by invaders from beyond the seas. The long saga of prehistory is often forgotten, but our understanding of our past is changing. In the last decade, astounding archaeological discoveries have shed new light on those who have gone before us, radically altering the way we think about our history. Mike Pitts presents ten of the most exciting – and surprising – of these discoveries.
As Pitts leads us on this journey through time, we move from the more recent and familiar to the most remote and bizarre, just as archaeologists delving into the earth find themselves moving backwards through the years until they reach the very oldest remnants of the past. At each of these sites we hear from the people who have found and recovered these ancient remains. We follow the archaeologists as they unearth an ancient Britain of many different cultures, and their efforts to understand them aided by new sciences including DNA analysis. Some are major digs, carried out to rescue and record heritage sites before they are covered over by new developments. Others are chance finds, leading to revelations out of proportion to the scale of the original projects. All are extraordinary tales of both luck and cutting-edge archaeological science that have produced profound, and often unexpected, insights into people’s lives between a thousand and a million years ago. Digging Up Britain offers a vision of antiquity for a modern British identity.
'Makes it clear that archaeology is as much about the present as it is the past; we have much to learn from our distant ancestors who have helped shape our individual and national identity'
Jeremy Deller, Turner Prize-winning artist and creator of 'Sacrilege'
'Lucid and informative … conveys both the thrill of discovery and the painstaking, puzzling interpretation work that follows it. … If you’ve ever wondered how we know so much about who we used to be, this is the book for you'
Greg Jenner, historian and bestselling author of 'A Million Years In A Day'
'Expertly informed and beautifully written, Digging Up Britain is a compelling, sometimes teasing archaeological Odyssey back through the diversity, complexity and sheer strangeness of lives lived by Britain’s past inhabitants'
Carenza Lewis, archaeologist and Professor of Public Understanding of Research at the University of Lincoln