In the land of giants A journey through the Dark Ages

Max Adams, 1961-

Book - 2016

"The five centuries between the end of Roman Britain and the death of Alfred the Great have left few voices save a handful of chroniclers, but Britain's 'Dark Ages' can still be explored through material remnants but above all, landscapes. In the Land of Giants explores Britain's lost medieval past by walking its paths and exploring its lasting imprint on valley, hill and field. From York to Whitby, from London to Sutton Hoo, from Edinburgh to Anglesey and from Hadrian&#...039;s Wall to Loch Tay, each of his ten walk narratives form parts of a wider portrait of a Britain of fort and fyrd, crypt and crannog, church and causeway, holy well and memorial stone."--Back cover.

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Location Call Number   Status
2nd Floor 942.01/Adams Checked In
New York : Pegasus Books 2016.
First Pegasus Books hardcover edition
Item Description
Map on endpapers.
Physical Description
xi, 444 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : color illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
Includes bibliographical references (pages 443-444).
Main Author
Max Adams, 1961- (author)
  • The kingdom of Dál Riata : Rothesay to Kilmartin
  • Gilsland to Haltwhistle
  • Marches : Telford to Wrexham
  • Haltwhistle to Hotbank
  • Looking for giants : London to Sutton Hoo
  • Once Brewed to Warden Hill
  • Eda Frandsen : Falmouth to Mallaig
  • A Corbridge circular
  • Heroes : Wareham to Yatton
  • Walking on the Wall on the spot
  • Time among the Britons : Anglesey to Bardsey Island
  • The Tyme: Hexham to Ovingham
  • Sense of place : Donegal
  • Ovingham to Newcastle
  • Speed : Meigle to Canterbury
  • Newcastle to Jarrow
  • midwinter : York to Whitby
  • Postscript : Who are the British?.
Review by Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Though adept in the skills of a library scholar, Adams here revives Britain's early medieval past through direct and deeply personal encounters with the lands once traveled by the kings, knights, ladies, monks, peasants, pirates, and slaves who peopled the world that was Britain when the Romans left the island in the fifth century. Adams invites his readers to share that world as he travels mostly on foot along the great stone barrier (Hadrian's Wall) that once marked the limits of the Roman Empire, visiting the burial mounds of Sutton Hoo, traversing the Hexhamshire battlefield where Prince Oswald crushed Cadwallon of Gwynedd, and pausing along the Wantsum Channel, where Christian missionaries once waited for King Æthelberht to grant them admission into his realm. Beyond the material relics that Adams scrutinizes with the eyes of a trained archaeologist, readers will relish the way these relics spark musings on Arthurian legends and prompt sustained reflections on the political transformation of the Britain of sixth-century tribal chieftains into the impressive ninth-century monarchy of King Alfred. This richly detailed journey reminds readers that the medieval Dark Ages actually shone with creative human energies rivaling those of our own era. A distant age evoked with the thrill of fresh rediscovery.--Christensen, Bryce Copyright 2016 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission. Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Rambling about his native Great Britain, writer and archaeologist Adams (The Wisdom of Trees) reveals the subtle ways in which the past permeates the present, despite the presence of modern motorways and housing developments. "I went to Wessex to walk with the heroes of the Dark Ages," he writes, "not to praise them, but to understand how a mythic past has infiltrated the fabric of the landscape." Adams peers into the countryside and sees what was once there, imagining the inhabitants of centuries past. Archeology can say what happened, but "rarely can it say why." Part history lesson, part travelogue, and part philosophical musing, this book reminds readers of a world in which time and distance were measured differently. This is not an idyllic journey. There are blisters, mud, cold, more mud, and encounters with a "megalithic tentacle roundabout" and a business park that is "a creepy landscape, overdesigned, inorganic, and inhuman." This is a book to savor; as readers travel with Adams, noting meetings with strangers, discoveries of ancient shrines and henges, and enjoying intimate contact with the surroundings, they will long to get some hiking boots and a staff to follow these forgotten trails. Photos. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved Review by Library Journal Review

Part travelog, part history, and part philosophical musing, this work by Adams (The King in the North) explores Britain's Dark Ages (400-900s CE) through various walk-abouts across the island's landscape. These are not ramblings but planned routes that try to encompass various ruins, historical sites, and even modern cities along the way. Each route is the individual theme of each chapter and also prescribes the past that Adams, a noted archaeologist, touches on. History is not the only aim of the book, though. Adams fills each chapter with asides about modern Britain to show how past and future collide and intersect in ways as old as they are new. For those who aren't familiar with British geography or early British history, having a map or historical atlas nearby is recommended as a quick reference to help add context to the small maps included.- -VERDICT A fascinating read for medievalists and history buffs. Readers will savor the almost whimsical happenstance; instead of a strict chronology, the volume is meant to be read however one wants, in chapter order or jumping among sections.-Laura Hiatt, Fort Collins, CO © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.