The Hadrian’s Wall Military Way: a frontier road explored

It is always stimulating to be reminded how much more remains to be said about Hadrian’s Wall, a Roman frontier system that is often believed – from an archaeological perspective – to have been ‘done’. Despite centuries of scholarly scrutiny, there are key gaps in knowledge about every element of…

Country House Collections: their lives and afterlives

‘Helicopters flew in, and prices flew up.’ James Miller’s summary of the Chatsworth attic sale of 2010 sets the tone for much of Country House Collections, a fascinating series of meditations on the fate of the art-objects and artefacts that inhabited stately homes and gave them their character. The 14…

Ontologies of Rock Art

Back in the days when I was an undergraduate, I was introduced to the mystical world of social theory. My tutors – Christopher Tilley and, later, Michael Shanks – introduced me to an obscure branch of archaeology that I had never been exposed to. At that time, archaeology to me…

History of the Caucasus

For thousands of years, people have lived on the 1,000-mile span of mountains stretching, high and low, from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea, or in the numerous mountain valleys that delineate the Caucasus – an area where Asia and Europe meet. Throughout history, the indigenous peoples living in…

The Pathfinders: the elite RAF force that turned the tide of WWII

This well-written book tells the remarkable story of an extraordinary team of aviators and their support personnel, from a wide range of backgrounds and nationalities, who – to quote from the book’s sub-title – turned the tide of the RAF’s bombing campaign over occupied Europe. Established aviation author Will Iredale…

Anglo-Boer War Blockhouses: a military engineer’s perspective

The final phase of the South African War of 1899-1902, in which Boer guerrillas were eventually overcome by British forces, has been extensively studied by historians. The concentration camps, in which an estimated 27,000 civilians died as part of a policy of depriving the Boer commandos of their support base,…

MHM’s round-up of the latest military history titles – November 2021

•Total War: a people’s history of the Second World War
• Churchill, Master and Commander: Winston Churchill at war 1895-1945
• A Dangerous Enterprise: secret war at sea
• A Brave and Cunning Prince: the great chief Opechancanough and the war for America
• Bomber Command: men, machines, and missions, 1936-68
• Ancient Rome: infographics…

War Classics – 1066: the year of the conquest

The Norman Conquest of England was a violent onslaught by barbaric feudal chivalry on what was, at the time, a sophisticated constitutional monarchy based on the rule of law, under whose authority the common people experienced a fair measure of peace, prosperity, and justice. Anglo-Saxon England was no paradise: but…

Taking Paris: the epic battle for the City of Lights

‘General Erwin Rommel has had a very busy weekend.’ So begins Martin Dugard’s latest book, Taking Paris. And immediately the reader knows two things. Firstly, the book does not only describe the August 1944 campaign for the French capital. Originally planned as just that, and despite the subtitle alluding to…

The Shape of Battle

What can six battles across a thousand years of history tell us about the nature of warfare? Probably not a lot, as Allan Mallinson himself admits. In his latest book, he is not so much out to make a point but to ‘let the events speak for themselves’. In other…

The Wrecks of HM Frigates Assurance (1753) & Pomone (1811)

In April 1753, a British frigate called the Assurance sank on the Needles, off the coast of the Isle of Wight. Its remains were rediscovered in 1969, complete with cannon, silver coins, and many other artefacts. Designated the sixth protected wreck in Britain, the site became the subject of years…

Cruck Building: a survey

Crucks, curving roof timbers that in their purest form go from the ground to the apex of the roof, have long been a puzzle. They superficially appear to be a primitive form of roof framing, but we have no real examples before 1250, by which time more sophisticated box-framing methods…

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