Francis Pryor – The Fens: Discovering England’s Ancient Depths.
This book is a personal, historical journey across one of the most mysterious regions of England, exploring its archaeology, history and landscapes by one of Britain’s most distinguished living archaeologists. It was a BBC Radio 4 book of the week.
Francis Pryor has lived in, excavated, farmed, walked – and loved – the Fen Country for more than forty years: its levels and drains, its soaring churches, its magnificent medieval buildings. The Fens is personal story of the authors’ discovery, as both an archaeologist and farmer, of this distinctive, complex, enduring, man-made and little understood landscape.
In The Fens, Francis counterpoints the history of the Fen landscape and its transformation – the great drainage projects that created the Old and New Bedford Rivers, the Ouse Washes and Bedford Levels, the rise of prosperous towns and cities, such as King’s Lynn, Cambridge, Wisbech, Boston and Spalding – with the story of his own discovery of it as an archaeologist.
As well as exploring the history of this rich landscape, Francis looks to the future of the Fens. Combing beautiful prose with nature writing, history and memoir, he investigates how rising seas might affect this flat expanse, whose land often falls below sea-level.
Francis Pryor is one of Britain’s most distinguished living archaeologists, and the excavator of Flag Fen. He was awarded an MBE ‘for services to tourism’ in 1999. Fengate was published in four volumes in the 1970s and ’80s and major English Heritage monographs on Maxey, Etton and Flag Fen appeared in 1986, 1998 and 2001. His popular account of this remarkable site, Flag Fen: life and death of a prehistoric landscape, was revised for a second edition in 2005.
He was President of the Council for British Archaeology from 1998-2005 and has written and presented series for Channel 4 on Britain BC, Britain AD and The Real Dad’s Army, a review of archaeological remains surviving from 1940 and has regularly appeared on Channel 4’s Time Team. He is a keen farmer, and lives on a smallholding in the Fenland with his wife.
Francis Pryor brings the magic of the Fens to life in a deeply personal and utterly enthralling way.’ Tony Robinson
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