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A Landscape Revealed: 10,000 Years on a Chalkland Farm by Martin Green. Tempus Publications. ISBN 0 7524 1490 9. £17.99.

I loved this book mostly for its patient uncovering of a host of fascinating facts, the marvellous illustrations of how life might have been in the Neolithic and bronze age, the illustrations giving a vibrancy to the text.

Martin Green has devoted a lifetime to patiently exploring and excavating the prehistoric sites on his farm. It was here at the Monkton Up Wimborne Neolithic Complex that the bodies of four individuals were found, three children and a woman aged about 30 years old. DNA analysis revealed that this small group had probably come from the Mendip Hills, some forty miles away to the north-west. Of the three children, two were unrelated to the women but were probably brother and sister, the third child was the daughter. What the chemical ‘signatures’ of these four revealed was that the women had travelled to Cranborne Chase ‘acquired’ the two children and then returned to the Mendips where she gave birth to her daughter. They then returned to Cranborne and met their death there. The specialist work was sponsored by the BBC during the making of a Meet the Ancestors programme. 

Publisher’s Review;  “The Down Farm landscape (where the author’s family have farmed for generations) is one of the most carefully studied areas in western Europe. The farm is part of Cranborne Chase, just South of Salisbury (where coincidentally, the famous General Pitt Rivers began his pioneering work in the 1880s). It not only contains the Neolithic Dorset Cursus, numerous long barrows and Hambledon Hill, but over the last 30 years henges, shafts, plastered houses, land divisions, enclosures and cemeteries have been identified and excavated.”

Foreword by Richard Bradley; “The story he has to tell is an exceptionally interesting one in which the development of Cranborne Chase is interwoven with an account of his own fieldwork. It begins with chance discoveries that could have been made on any part of the chalk of southern England and it ends with a unique programme of research, in which Martin plays a pivotal role, involving no fewer than five universities and a major field unit.”

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