My book review of 'The Anglo-Saxons' by Marc Morris

by Marc Morris
The Anglo-Saxons
by Marc Morris

Last year's fllm of 'The Dig' telling the story of the excavation of the Anglo-Saxon burial mound at Sutton Hoo, Suffolk, certainly captured the imagination of the nation and may, in part, be why this has become a surprise bestseller.

There are many more facets to our ancestors than their treasure, though, and the author shares these in a beautifully packaged book.

When Roman rule ended in England sixteen hundred years ago, the buildings crumbled and civil society collapsed. There were invasions and infighting and a period of turbulence which is understood as lasting some six hundred years, often dismissed as the 'Dark Ages'.

But, beginning with an account of another Suffolk find - the Hoxne hoard - the author shows us how the foundations of English life were laid in this time. There was the introduction of the monarchy and the English language, old gods were replaced with Christianity, dazzling art works were created, and towns and trade rejuvenated.

Each chapter follows a theme which is developed through introducing us to a notable figure of the time. These biographies are a very readable and accessible way of presenting information that, to this reader, has previously seemed impenetrable.

There have been criticisms in reviews that the author should have tried harder to include female figures who influenced this age, and I agree that I would have found this a valuable insight, but overall this is a comprehensive and fascinating account and a book I will keep as a valuable guide to understanding local, and national, history.

Review date: July 2021
Publication date: 20th May 2021