REVIEW BY DUNCAN W WRIGHT
In An Archaeological History of Hermitages, Simon Roffey directly addresses a hitherto neglected area of scholarship by providing a wide-ranging survey of the material evidence for hermitages and eremitic practice. His work is not restricted to Britain and Ireland, nor indeed Christian practice, but looks at hermits in other traditions, such as Taoism and Buddhism, and surveys locations such as China and India. This wide-ranging view is refreshing, allowing the reader to draw parallels and distinctions between the motivations behind eremitism. For Roffey, who has been involved with both Western and Eastern contemplative traditions, research into them is a personal pursuit. This is especially apparent when one realises the effort that has gone not just into drawing together the often patchy evidence for hermitages, but also into taking photographs during site visits to some of the most windswept locations in the British Isles. It is hoped that this volume provides a foundation for further research into eremitic lifestyles of all kinds, given their prominence and importance to communities around the world, not just in the past but also into the present day.
Simon Roffey Routledge, £120 (hbk) and £38.99 (e-book) ISBN 978-0367110611