Philip Parker

Mercian Hymns

In the Land of Giants: Journeys through the Dark Ages

By

Head of Zeus 444pp £25 order from our bookshop

In the early pages of In the Land of Giants, Max Adams quotes an eighth-century Anglo-Saxon poem that describes the shattered stone shells and jagged masonry still standing, three centuries after the end of the Roman occupation of Britain. ‘A hundred generations/have passed away since then. This wall, grey with lichen/and red of hue, outlives kingdom after kingdom,’ the anonymous poet marvels. Adams’s latest book is very much an attempt to instil in the reader that same sense of wonder, cataloguing the huge range of monuments that survive in Britain from the little-documented period between the departure of the Roman legions early in the fifth century and Alfred the Great’s drubbing of the Danish Viking invaders over 450 years later.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Tarantino's latest film is 'a fairy tale about Hollywood, where fantasy is an industrial product and the boulevards… ,
    • 'I don’t think we’re here on Earth to be Happy. I think we’re here on Earth to help God. I am a messianic writer'.… ,
    • 'Darley’s book is not a mad dash through this most compelling and complex of English counties. Nor is it another ti… ,
    • 'Moser’s book offers such a gripping account of a profoundly damaged human being, trapped in a cycle of repetition,… ,
    • 'Ideas that I’d thought were set down in full continue to smoulder ... this book is only a snapshot of some larger… ,
    • 'Full of invention which, at its most pedestrian, is eminently Victorian, and at its most unrestrained wildly imagi… ,
    • 'What in other hands could have been a dry, pedantic account of Christianity’s birth and evolution becomes in Holla… ,