Marion Ravenwood reviews ‘Social Relations in Prehistory: Wessex in the First Millennium BC’ by Niall SharplesThe cover price of this new book by Niall Sharples may initially put you off, but don’t think twice. No reference library will be complete without this volume.
Covering the late Bronze Age to the Roman Conquest, Sharples vaults over specialist boundaries to bridge the previously distinct Late Bronze and Iron Ages, and construct an alternative account of later Prehistoric society. The Wessex region has been intensively studied, and assumptions about its culture have dominated discussions of later Prehistory in Britain.
Sharples’ challenging views about the transformation of society during this time are certain to provoke debate, setting a starting point for a new agenda for the study of the period. The six chapters put everything in context, starting out with a wide lens on landscape and travelling ever more tightly inward through community, the house, the individual, and finally back to Wessex in a new context. A helpful appendix details chronology through characteristic finds and type sites, while the bibliography displays the breadth of knowledge synthesised in the research. An important work.