Time’s Anvil: England, Archaeology and the Imagination by Richard Morris - review by Jonathan Meades

Jonathan Meades

The Pen & the Spade

Time’s Anvil: England, Archaeology and the Imagination


Weidenfeld & Nicolson 466pp £25

When Hugh Trevor-Roper, lately ennobled as Lord Dacre of Glanton, was appointed ‘Master of a Cambridge college’ in 1980 – it was Peterhouse, which has a significance Richard Morris ignores – he expressed to a colleague, the sometime television archaeologist Glyn Daniel, what appears to have been a scornful and effete surprise that archaeology should be an honours subject at that university when it was not so at Oxford. No matter that it is rash to take a bitchy ironist such as Trevor-Roper too literally; Morris does so, for he is a member, perhaps the leader, of archaeology’s militant tendency. 

He is forever alert to any sort of slight on his discipline’s primacy as a tool for understanding the multitudinous pasts of this planet’s inhabitants. He is all too aware of Oxford’s eschewal of the subject from his own youth, when he turned down the chance to read archaeology at

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