Book review: Archer, Journey to Stonehenge by Jane Brayne

Archer, Journey to Stonehenge by Jane Brayne

This newly published comic strip style picture-book tells a story of a young man’s journey from the Alps to Stonehenge. It is based on a discovery of a man buried near Stonehenge just outside Amesbury in 2002. Examination of his body showed he had grown up in the Alps and had journeyed to Britain when a young man. This book is an imaginative look at what that journey might have been for, and what is might have been like. Jane Brayne, the author and illustrator, was the first person to ever draw a reconstruction of the Amesbury Archer and now has drawn his entire story.

The book is packed full of research, from the patterns on the clothes that the people of the Alps wear based on standing stones of the region, to how copper was smelted and cast, to the inclusion of Bluestonehenge, a new henge on the River Avon at the start of the Stonehenge Avenue that was only discovered in 2008.

Many aspects of the book are more speculative, like the function of the standing stones at Carnac in Brittany, the method of sailing on rivers and the sea, and the ‘Observers’ at Stonehenge, and this provides some great material for discussion about what these monuments were for.

Information about the Archer in the back of the book.

Objects that were found in the Amesbury Archer’s grave appear in the story itself, such as the gold tress rings for his hair, the metalworking tools, the stone bracer he wore on his wrist to protect it from a bowstring, the antler pin that was a gift from his father, the boars tusks that he hunted when he became a man and, most importantly, the copper dagger, which is currently still the earliest known metal in Britain. Making a biography for each of those objects really makes them so much more significant when studying his grave, which is mentioned in the back of the book. For many years the idea of a group of people bringing a new style of pottery called Beaker Folk was ridiculed in the archaeological world, but when the Archer was found with a beaker and having come from the Alps, the idea has become mainstream again.

Another great topic is how Stonehenge is portrayed, as perhaps somewhere usually off limits and strictly controlled, but also how one of the main times for engaging with the stone circle was at the midwinter sunset, as well as at midsummer sunrise, as the alignments are exactly opposite each other at this latitude.

The great hunting grounds of the afterlife in Archer, Journey to Stonehenge by Jane Brayne

In the end it is also sad to think the Amesbury Archer didn’t get back to his homeland, which he longs to do in the book, but died and was buried near Stonehenge. In the book Brayne suggests that the people of the time believed that spirits of the dead went on to the great hunting ground, but you can see the Amesbury Archer’s skeleton in Salisbury Museum.

Book review: The First Drawing by Mordicai Gerstein

This is a wonderful picturebook that invites children to imagine they lived thousands of years ago and invented drawing. You see animals in rocks and clouds, watch animals all day and even come face to face with a woolly mammoth. You see animals running and dancing in the firelight on the walls of the cave where you sleep with your extended family. But no-one else can see what you can see until you pick up a charred stick from the fire and start making marks on the wall where you can see the animals: the first drawing. Then everyone can see what you see and everyone draws on the cave.

Being written in second person is really engaging and different, and the detail in the pictures really backs up that feeling of the reader being the main character in the story and being misunderstood by others. The book could easily be read without any words, with the pictures themselves telling the story. If you focus on the pictures you can see the expressions of the wider family as they disbelieve, fear and finally see the animals on the walls. If children look really carefully they can see that one member of the extended family does see, a baby, the most innocent and least socialised person in the group.

If you examine the end papers either before or after reading the book, you can find some clues as to why certain aspects of the book are in there. There is the dedication which reads:

For Susan, with love. Your beautiful drawings open our eyes to our own imaginations. –MG

Who is Susan? Who is referred to in ‘our eyes’? Perhaps Susan is the author’s daughter and she opens her parents eyes to their own imagination, like the hero of the story eventually opens his/her parents and relations eyes to their imaginations. Under the dedication is the hero looking at an elephant in the zoo, which might link to the hero coming face to face with a woolly mammoth. Perhaps that is a memory of the author’s visit to a zoo. Children will have other ideas too.

A focus on the text will provide opportunities for philosophical discussion. The phrases “Why can’t they see what I see?”, “being a mammoth might not be so different from being you.” and “It is magic.” the ‘it’ being drawing, are a few starting points that would lead to very rich dicussions.

The Author’s Note at the back gives more detail about the prehistorical background, explaining that the book was inspired by the cave paintings found in Chauvet cave in southern France. The author tells us that he had always thought children had invented drawing and when the footprint of a child, perhaps aged about 8, was found in the cave, alongside that of a wolf, he felt vindicated. It would be great to compare the drawings in the book to the drawings in Chauvet Cave, which you can find on the Bradshaw Foundation’s website.

Children could even investigate the premise of the book, which is that art was invented in Europe around 30,000 years ago. This eurocentric viewpoint can be challenged as it may be that anatomically modern humans (AMH) created art long before that but not on cave walls where it has been preserved. AMHs first arrived in Australia, it is thought, about 60,000 years ago and they may have already been drawing. A recent find of a scored shell has been dated to before AMH evolved, about 500,000 years ago. It is likely that an earlier human species, Homo erectus, had scored the abstract patterns on the shell found on Java in Indonesia.

It is also not likely that humans lived in the caves that they decorated, and it would be good to read this book alongside Satoshi Kitamura’s Stone Age Boy book that shows a more authentic way of life of these Ice Age people, living in tents by rock shelters.

Book review: The Ravens by James Dyer

The Ravens is a children’s book set in the late Iron Age, in fact in 54 BC, the year of Caesar’s second invasion of Britain, similar to Adventure on the Knolls which we reviewed earlier (and published by the same publisher). It even starts with a modern boy dreaming about what went on in an ancient hillfort. Where it differs, though, is in the quality of writing and research. It was written by James Dyer, an archaeologist with a specialism in Iron Age hillforts.

The modern boy is called Adam and he is a really good runner. He is training with a rival, a boy called David Azlett and stops on the Mound overlooking Ravensburgh hillfort. The Iron Age story then begins in the next chapter, leaving you wondering whether it’s all in Adam’s head or not.

The Iron Age Adam is tipped to be the new leader of the Boys House at Ravensburgh, but his rival is a bully called Azlett. Adam’s grandfather is advisor to their leader, Cassiv (short for Cassivellaunus, the documented king of the Catuvellauni tribe). Cassiv is away fighting the Romans, who find the British fighting methods, guerilla tactics, each to himself and use of chariots, difficult to deal with. Adam and his friend Marik go with Greggo, a veteran of the wars, to deliver more equipment to Cassiv’s warriors.

With the confidence and freedom of being near-grown boys in the Iron Age, Adam and Marik decide to go and take a look at Caesar’s army for themselves and end up finding out a secret that could see the end of the Catuvellauni and Ravensburgh. Only swift-footed Adam can save the day, and he’s been spotted by the traitor Azlett.

The book is filled with amazing attention to detail, such as the importance Iron Age Britons attached to their appearance, sacrifices made to Iron Age gods and accounts of the campaign from Caesar’s perspective as well as the Britons’. One reference to the now discredited Icknield Way can be forgiven; the book was written in 1990.

The book could be read alongside topic work on Iron Age Britain and the Roman invasion, what it meant to Iron Age people, some of whom welcomed it and some of whom certainly didn’t. You could explore what changes the Catuvellauni might have expected if Caesar had decided to stay instead of going back to Gaul, before looking at what did happen in AD 43.

A trench through the ramparts at Ravensburgh in 1964. Photo courtesy of North Hertfordshire Archaeological Society

A trench through the ramparts at Ravensburgh in 1964. Photo courtesy of North Hertfordshire Archaeological Society

What’s particularly lovely about studying this book is that the author also surveyed and excavated at Ravensburgh, so you can look up the work he did and compare it to what he wrote in the novel. This PDF from the Chilterns AONB in which Ravensburgh sits is quite useful, or there is a quick summary from North Hertfordshire Archaeological Society.

Book Review: Adventure on The Knolls by Michael Dundrow

Adenture on the Knolls by Michael Dundrow

Adventure on the Knolls by Michael Dundrow

This book is set in the late Iron Age. John is an ordinary boy who helps out on his parents farm in 20th century England. One misty morning after getting the cows onto their pasture, he takes a stroll up the hill behind his house called The Knolls to the remains of the Iron Age hillfort. He knows there’s a chalk pit up there and tries not to fall into it, but fall he does and in a flash of light he finds himself transported back 2000 years in time.

The first people he meets are a brother and sister very similar to him in age. They introduce themselves as Morva and Rik and urge him to get inside the hillfort before the enemy tribe, the Iceni, attack. Although their accent is funny he can understand them, and they him, which is lucky.

From the beginning there is plenty of action, with the battle, a kidnapping of the three children thrown in for good measure, and then a visit by Romans headed by Julius Caesar himself, there is plenty to capture children’s imagination and to build discussions and activities on.

Being an outsider from our time John gets to compare the lives of the people in the Iron Age to today and thinks about the differences in clothing, houses, food, beds, and even religion, comparing a visit to the sacred oak tree in the forest favourably to spending a sleepy afternoon on a pew in chapel back home. The description of the role of the druid is quite interesting and could be built on to get more of an idea of what they did.

Replica Iron Age roundhouse at the Chiltern Open Air Museum.

Replica Iron Age roundhouse at the Chiltern Open Air Museum.

As usual there are a few issues we have with the accuracy of some of the events and the author’s portrayal of the Iron Age. The tribe, a hitherto unknown one called the Cretaci, are shown to have two settlements, one at the foot of The Knolls which is the main settlement and one in the hillfort, which they retreat to in times of danger. This gives you a great way in to talking about the possible function of hillforts, but be aware that this is only one possible interpretation and that some were permanently occupied whereas others were probably just used as regular meeting places.

The depiction of Iron Age people as smelly, dirty and dressed in shapeless sacking is laughably wrong. People in the late Iron Age took great care over their appearance and were well known for their high quality, patterned woollen clothes, cloaks in particular. Rich people in the Iron Age wore plenty of gold, silver and bronze jewellery, and had shears, razors and mirrors to help them look after their hair and, for men, moustaches.The smith gives bronze brooches with red enamel to children to wear on shapeless sacking is the most unrealistic moment.

Soay sheep, a breed close to the type of sheep kept in the Iron Age. By Giles Carey.

Soay sheep, a breed close to the type of sheep kept in the Iron Age. By Giles Carey.

Although the tribe are shown as farmers, bringing goats into the settlement at night, they are still portrayed as relying on hunted meat, which is unrealistic at this point. It was the agricultural, and mineral, wealth of Britain that the Romans wanted to exploit, and so the appearance of Julius Caesar in this book is a good way in to exploring the reasons behind the Roman invasion and why some tribes might have welcomed Roman rule while others fought it. That the Cretaci had never before heard of Romans is also unbelievable as many Britons went as mercenaries to fight against them for the Gauls in what is now France.

The battle between the Cretaci and the Iceni was lacking in chariots, which are mentioned by Caesar in his account of his visit to Britain, and by Tacitus in his Annals, specifically when referring to the Iceni queen, Boudicca. A woman, possibly a queen, was buried with a wonderfully decorated chariot in Wetwang, East Riding of Yorkshire. Find out more about it from the British Museum’s Teaching History in 100 Objects.

Boudicca is referred to in this book but her name is not mentioned. One of the Cretaci complains that the Iceni were peaceful until a woman took over as queen. If Boudicca was queen in 55 or 54 BC (when Julius Caesar visited) she was a pretty old war leader by the time of her rebellion in AD 60/61! Anyway, a good opportunity to explore some of the tribes of Britain.

So far this is the only book set in Iron Age Britain that we’ve found. It would be a good one to use if you are doing an in depth study of hillforts, but keep in mind its limitations which we have outlined here. It is 115 pages long but the text is pretty large and could probably be tackled by most Year 4s and older.

Book Review: The Boy with the Bronze Axe by Kathleen Fidler

This book is set in Skara Brae in the Orkney Islands so would be a perfect book to accompany an in depth study of the settlement and way of life of these Neolithic farmers. Attention to detail is enormous, and the author has clearly done plenty of research into the layout of the settlement, the rooms and the artefacts used there. It is 164 pages long and is primarily aimed at older children, perhaps Years 5 and 6.

The story starts with a brother and sister Kali and Brockan walking out to a rock exposed by the low tide where the biggest limpets grow to collect a treat for themselves and their parents. They find so much tasty seafood that the time passes quickly and before they know it the tide has risen and will soon cover the rock. Luckily for them, a stranger in a strange long boat made by hollowing out a tree trunk rescues them and takes them back to Skara. He is a young man called Tenko who has travelled from the south all alone and hopes to find sanctuary in Skara.

Interior of one of the dwellings at Skara Brae. Taken by Jun and shared on Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.

Interior of one of the dwellings at Skara Brae. Taken by Jun and shared on Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.

The people of Skara are interested in his boat, the like of which they have never seen. The children also appear to know nothing about trees as the Orkneys are mostly devoid of them. But the most amazing thing Tenko brings is his axe that shines like the sun. Kali asks him what stone it is made out of, and he tells them it’s not made out of stone, but bronze. The presence of the bronze axe causes tensions as several people desire to own it. It is a great adventure as well as being very well researched.

The book ends with the final storm that shifts the sand dunes directly on top of the settlement, burying it for nearly 5000 years until a similar storm swept the sand away and revealed it to archaeologists. The details are threaded through the story, with a broken necklace in one of the dwellings and a hearth made on top of the sand under one of the broken roofs.

Make a replica clay axe, then make a mould from that and pour melted chocolate in it

Make a replica clay axe, then make a mould from that and pour melted chocolate in it

The book would provide plenty of opportunities to discuss how people discovered bronze, what it would mean to people who’d never seen it before, how the technology spread, and why it took over from stone tools in the end. Try casting an replica axe; instead of molten metal use chocolate or freeze water in axe-shaped moulds.

You could also have discussions about the farming lifestyle at Skara and how food was supplemented by hunting and gathering, and to what extent children undertook this.

 

 

Ring of Brodgar from above by Giles Carey

Ring of Brodgar from above by Giles Carey

Religion could also be explored, as one of the chapters involves a ceremony putting in one of the stones of the Ring of Brodgar and another sees the tribe’s wise man being interred at Maes Howe. The author suggests the enigmatic carved stone balls found in Skara were representations of the sun and used for ceremonial processions to the Ring. Look at the resource on carved stone balls from the British Museum’s Teaching History in 100 Objects website. Make your own from dried clay balls. If you’re feeling very adventurous, you can even explore Platonic solids with them. See this video of a lecture at Gresham College by Professor Tony Mann.

A couple of problems we have with this book is that the women, and particularly Kali and Brockan’s mother, are mostly invisible and completely passive. The only reason we can think of to explain it is that the book was originally written in 1968 and thinking about gender roles in prehistory clearly didn’t cross the (female) author’s mind. It would be a good talking point to see whether children found this believable.

Another problem is more fact based; Tenko is supposed to have experienced from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle on the Scottish mainland. While this gives the author, and you, a handy way to contrast the two lifestyles, in reality people in mainland Scotland would also have been farmers by this date, with a little hunting and gathering on the side. It’s also unlikely that bronze was introduced through the Shetland Islands, which is what is suggested in the book. We also have a small issue with the place names. The author has used modern ones, which is great for kids to identify sites, but most of these names are the Norse words that replaced earlier place names. Also, logboats were probably not that good at sea and were made for river transport.

But apart from that, a great book for older children which gives you lots of ways in to explore Skara Brae and important themes in prehistory.

Book review: The Whitestone Stories by John Barrett, illustrated by Christine Clerk

This is the first book so far that we have read that deals with later prehistory for children, apart from the Wolf Brother series which is set in the Mesolithic (middle Stone Age – after the ice and before farming). What is so attractive about this book is that it covers not only the Mesolithic period but also later Neolithic (farming) and Bronze Age, though unfortunately stopping short of the Iron Age.

Barrett’s prose is beautiful. It helps the reader become immersed in these other, very different, times. The first story recounts the coming of humans to Britain and starts by evoking the smells, sights and sounds of the wildwood.

When Summer came to the forest, all the thickets sparkled with red raspberry jewels; and the grasses were spangled with scarlet strawberry drops as bright as the garnets in the mountain rocks.

Plenty of scope for analysing rhythm, rhyme, alliteration and imagery there and for drawing what the phrase conjures up in the mind’s eye. The Whitestone itself is a glacial erratic that has been dropped by a glacier and witnesses the changes all around, the disappearance of the forest, the ploughing of the land and the building of huge monuments.

IMG_5184

Crawling into West Kennet long barrow to meet the ancestors

Although never explicit, you could make links to what is now Avebury, the West Kennet long barrow and Silbury Hill, or similar monuments in Scotland with Barrett exploring how such monuments might have come to be built and what people did there.

The stories do not shy away from some discussion of magic but many read as if they are parables that would have been told around the fire to children in prehistory to ensure that they knew how to behave, for instance to only take what they need from the forest and not everything, to be kind to one another, to be honest and not envious and to be loyal to ones friends.

Because of this tendency for the stories to come across as legends already very old by the time they are told in prehistory, some of the mechanisms of change in society may not reflect modern archaeological thought. The coming of farmers in boat loads and exterminating the hunter-gatherers, for instance, as in Chapter 3, is not now considered to have been the case. The ideas and products of farming may instead have been adopted by the indigenous population of Britain.

The changes in religious beliefs over the millennia are very interesting, from the ancestor worship of the Neolithic to possible worship of the sun and moon in the Early Bronze Age (which coincides with very rich burials of individuals indicating some kind of high status, in the book they are described as kings), to worship of a destructive water goddess in the later Bronze Age that links to the deposition of lots of metalwork in rivers and bogs at that date. It is pure supposition that there was a change from a matriarchal to a patriarchal society in the Bronze Age, though.

Dancing girls of the later Bronze Age - this is as bad as the nudity gets

Dancing girls of the later Bronze Age – this is as bad as the nudity gets

The pencil-drawn illustrations are very rich in content and would repay some attention, particularly looking at the way people’s dress changes over the years, and the different reconstructions of settlements and religious ceremonies. Be warned that there are some topless dancing girls in this book, which may have happened in the later Bronze Age (though the only evidence we have is from Denmark).

Overall this is an excellent book and deserves to be widely used in the classroom as there is otherwise a dearth of good picture books about the Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age. This book goes some way to addressing that.

Book review: Stig of the Dump

stig coverWe didn’t think Stig of the Dump would be worthwhile as a book to accompany Changes in Britain from the Stone Age to the Iron Age, as, although enjoying it as children, we thought it would be a stereotypical and old-fashioned view of a ‘caveman’. But on starting to read, Stig comes across not as primitive, but as inventive, curious and bristling with skills and confidence, a very good model of an early human.

If you haven’t read it, the premise is that Barney, a normal eight-year-old boy, falls into the local disused chalk-pit while visiting his grandmother. He falls through the roof of a shelter and comes face to face with Stig, an early human. The two become firm friends and have great fun inventing new things to help Stig live in his new home, including a chimney out of old tin cans and a window out of bottles.

One thing is a little confusing, but only if you know a bit about the Stone Age! What kind of human is Stig? Is he an anatomically modern Homo sapiens? Or is he an earlier species of human, perhaps a Neanderthal? He is very inventive, and though his language is limited he managed to communicate with his young friend very well. He seems very keen on hunting horses, which would suggest he might have been from the Palaeolithic, but could still be either. Then, in the final chapter, Barney goes back in time to Stig’s home and ends up helping Stig’s community raise standing stones. This would place him firmly in the Neolithic, with anatomically modern humans, farming and pretty stable settlements. But in the original illustrations, the 1981 and 2002 series, he’s clearly meant to be some kind of earlier human.

You can bring out these inconsistencies in the book, and use them as a source of discussion, if you have a little knowledge about the chronology of the Stone Age. Another post on that should follow!

Here are some other teaching ideas you could explore:

  • Can children invent something new using rubbish? This could spark a conversation about recycling out of necessity, and recycling as a moral issue.
  • If Stig comes from the Stone Age, which materials that he finds in the dump would be new to him? Just because it’s called the Stone Age doesn’t mean everything was made of stone. Obviously, Stig would know about wood, leather and many more materials.
  • If Stig is a Neanderthal and Barney is a modern human, their meeting is a repeat of what happened around 40,000 year ago in Europe when the first Homo sapiens people arrived and found Homo neanderthalensis already living here. Neanderthals lived on for another 15,000 years or so. What were those years like? Did humans kill neanderthals? Did they hunt better? Or did they interbreed with them?
  • Challenge children to come up with one object they’d like to present to Stig and what he would think of it. Think about what object they’d like from Stig in return.

The story explores how early humans created fire, hunted, the kind of tools they created and even some spiritual aspect of their lives. It’s also an interesting book to highlight how children of only 50 years ago were expected to be very independent! Do your children think that they would be brave enough to do what Barney did?

Stone Age Boy by Satoshi Kitamura: a book review

Stone Age Boy by Satoshi Kitamura

Stone Age Boy by Satoshi Kitamura

Stone Age Boy is a well-illustrated and well-researched picture book for children featuring a modern boy going back in time after falling into a cave. He emerges in what looks like Upper Palaeolithic France, probably around 25,000 years ago and meets a girl his own age and learns all about her extended family.

There are detailed pictures showing the girl’s family doing all the things Upper Palaeolithic people did: hunting, butchering animals for food, processing hide for clothes, knapping flints into tools, making fire, cooking. Some of these images are labelled to make the actions clearer.

The boy and girl go back into the cave to see cave paintings when a cave bear starts to attack! The boy falls through a hole in the floor and ends up back at home. This leaves unanswered questions about whether the girl escaped from the cave bear. Pupils could imagine what happened to the girl afterwards, especially as they boy is shown as an adult later. He has become an archaeologist and is digging in the cave.

There’s also a useful timeline and glossary at the back to help access some of the concepts. For further activities to go with this book, see this blog post by Playing by the Book or this one by Learning Parade.

Wolf Brother’s Wildwoods, a Forestry Commission Scotland resource

Wolf_brotherMichelle Paver’s series of books set in Mesolithic Scandinavia, The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness, published by Orion Children’s Books are a fantastic read. The world is full of demons and spirits and one boy, Torak, is the hero who can save the world. He is left alone in the world when a crazed bear kills his father and the only friend he has is a wolf cub who quickly grows up to be a very useful companion.

The first in the series is Wolf Brother and, as it was set in Scotland,  Forestry Commission (Scotland) created a set of resources, Wolf Brother’s Wildwoods (pdf), for teachers to build activities around the book. These activities are mainly to encourage outdoor learning, particularly in the Forest School approach, but they are also very helpful in exploring what life was like in Stone Age Britain.

The Mesolithic (middle stone age) in Britain is a time between the melting of the ice sheets around 10,000 BC to the introduction of farming around 4000 BC. The ice sheets had left Scotland by about 8500 BC and that’s when people started to explore and exploit the area. Wolf Brother must be set at least a few hundred years if not a couple of thousand years later as the landscape is pretty well known and there are different groups of people living in different environments, e.g. in the forest, on the coast, on the islands.

Torak, as an outsider, gives the reader a chance to get to know the Mesolithic. We meet people who live in skin tents, who use flint arrows to kill red deer and then use every part of the deer for food. The Forestry Commission resource has a great poster detailing what every part of the deer could be used for. This could bring up discussions of sustainability, reducing waste, contrasts with modern day hunting in the UK, and many other issues.

every part of the deerThe book is exciting all the way through: Torak’s capture by the Raven clan; his escape aided by one of the Raven girls, Renn; their quest across a glacier; a devastating avalanche just at the right moment. Paver does not talk down to her readers, exploring topics such as self-sacrifice, loyalty, and loss. Nor does she avoid using challenging language, but the excitement and paciness of the book keep readers enthralled. It is probably most appropriate for Years 5 or 6. There are several sequels, too, so it should encourage readers to go on and read more.

The resources created for teachers to use alongside the book, Wolf Brother’s Wildwoods, provides ideas of activities to do in the classroom and outside in woodland. These include making timelines, making nettle cord, meeting trees blindfolded, building shelters, microhikes wriggling along a rope ‘track’ on your tummy, laying and following tracks, creating journey sticks, writing kennings (knowings) and making tree spirits – all prefaced by extracts from the book. There are lots of images of recreated Mesolithic scenes as well as the animals, plants and tools mentioned in the books.

journey stickWolf Brother’s Wildwoods also gives teachers south of the border a glimpse into Scotland’s curriculum for excellence. It’s always interesting to find out how others approach pedagogy, and contrast it with one’s own approach.

A book for adults set in the same time period and general area is The Gathering Night by Margaret Elphinstone. It is a very insightful view into the Mesolithic world, beautifully written and full of the same kind of themes as Wolf Brother.

Book Review: The Secrets of Stonehenge by Mick Manning and Brita Granstrom

Archaeologist and parent blogger Claire Walsh has very kindly agreed to let us reblog her review of this children’s book about Stonehenge. For more from Claire visit www.beingamummy.co.uk.

The secrets of stonehenge

Being an archaeologist I’m always on the lookout for great books on archaeology for children. We spend quite a lot of time visiting archaeological sites, so to come across a book about Stonehenge suitable for children was brilliant. We love Stonehenge and were lucky enough to visit it a few years ago at dawn and we even got to go inside the fence (which doesn’t exist now). I’ve been trying to interest the children in Stonehenge and this book is really helpful in trying to do that.

This book was written in conjunction with English Heritage experts and provides a child friendly, up to date interpretation. It covers a lot of the topics which experts have been puzzling over for years such as why the monument was erected and who lived there. All of this has been brought to life with the use of some brilliant illustrations. It really is a fantastic introduction to the site. I’d recommend that this book accompanied you on a trip there if you were planning a visit.

When the new National Curriculum comes into force in September there will be a section on prehistory. This means that this book will become a really helpful addition to your bookshelf. Given the enigmas of prehistory I’m sure that it will inspire as many questions as it answers!

If you want to find out more about Mick Manning and Brita Granstom have a look at their website. They have produced a wonderful selection of books, I for one will be ordering quite a few of them. You can order a copy of The Secrets of Stonehenge here.

Look out for more book reviews coming soon.