Warrior: A Life of War in Anglo-Saxon Britain

Warrior tells the story of forgotten man, a man whose bones were found in an Anglo-Saxon graveyard at Bamburgh castle in Northumberland. It is the story of a violent time when Britain was defining itself in waves of religious fervour, scattered tribal expansion and terrible bloodshed; it is the story of the fighting class, men apart, defined in life and death by their experiences on the killing field; it is an intricate and riveting narrative of survival and adaptation set in the stunning political and physical landscapes of medieval England.

Warrior is a classic of British history, a landmark of popular archaeology, and a must-read for anyone interested in the story of where we’ve come from.

A riveting, brilliantly written account.” Caroline Sanderson, The Bookseller.

The disruptive and imaginative force of archaeology revealed.” Alex Burghart, The Spectator.

First Published on 19 September 2019 by Granta Books.

Excerpt

People stop when they see an excavation. They stop and look and then, mostly, they move on. Some ask a few questions before going about their business. But there are those who stop and look without saying anything, then walk past only to return ten minutes’ later. These are the people who have something to say. Some theory of their own as to what might find be found, some idea they would like the archaeologists to investigate. Or sometimes they have a memory.

The lady was old with alert and penetrating eyes. She’d walked past with her dog and stopped to look, silently, at the small team of diggers arranged across the bottom of the trench, a series of hump-backed mounds sifting sand and earth. But then she returned when they stopped for tea and paused beside the trench.

‘I used to come here when I was a little girl,’ she said.

She looked down at the archaeologists with the upright deportment of an Edwardian lady and a voice that could have polished the glass after cutting it. She told the archaeologists that her family had lived in the village for generations before moving away, but she had come back to visit a cousin.

‘We would picnic on the beach and my grandfather, an antiquarian, would go off and dig.’ She patted the dog sitting beside her. ‘He found something. A skeleton.’

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