The Anglo-Saxon World M. J. Ryan, Nicholas J. Higham

Publication date:
27 Oct 2015
Yale University Press
496 pages: 246 x 190mm
100 color illus., 40 line drawings, 60 maps
Sales territories:

Buy this eBook

You can purchase this title from a number of online retailers:

The Anglo-Saxon period, stretching from the fifth to the late eleventh century, begins with the Roman retreat from the Western world and ends with the Norman takeover of England. Between these epochal events, many of the contours and patterns of English life that would endure for the next millennium were shaped. In this authoritative work, N. J. Higham and M. J. Ryan reexamine Anglo-Saxon England in the light of new research in disciplines as wide ranging as historical genetics, paleobotany, archaeology, literary studies, art history, and numismatics. The result is the definitive introduction to the Anglo-Saxon world, enhanced with a rich array of photographs, maps, genealogies, and other illustrations.
The Anglo-Saxon period witnessed the birth of the English people, the establishment of Christianity, and the development of the English language. With an extraordinary cast of characters (Alfred the Great, the Venerable Bede, King Cnut), a long list of artistic and cultural achievements (Beowulf, the Sutton Hoo ship-burial finds, the Bayeux Tapestry), and multiple dramatic events (the Viking invasions, the Battle of Hastings), the Anglo-Saxon era lays legitimate claim to having been one of the most important in Western history.

N. J. Higham is professor emeritus, University of Manchester. M. J. Ryan is a former lecturer in early medieval history, University of Manchester.

"University of Manchester academics Nicholas J Higham and Martin J Ryan reveal the richly textured tapestry woven between the last days of the Roman Empire and the Norman conquest of England. Drawing on a rich array of sources and disciplines such as historical genetics, paleobotany, and numismatics, the authors use primary material, illustrations, maps, photographs and genealogies to bring alive a part of history which 'witnessed the birth of the English people, the establishment of Christianity and the development of the English language.' Superb."—William Yeoman, The West Australian

". . . may well establish itself as the standard one-volume study of Anglo-Saxon England for several years to come."—Parergon

"Whether you want an accessible introduction to all things Anglo-Saxon, a thorough refresher of key points, or a reliably comprehensive reference tool to dip into, this is a wonderful book. Satisfyingly detailed, the authors assume no specialist knowledge on the part of their readers, but do not talk down to them either. It is an interdisciplinary work, combining lively analysis of written sources with archaeological discoveries, linguistic evidence, landscape archaeology, palaeobotany, genetics, and more. The scope is broad but often zooms in on interesting digressions...Complementing this treasure trove of information is a series of superb maps, we well as generous quantities of big, coloum either.rful photos that vividly illustrate the masterpieces that these supposedly Dark Age peoples were able to create."—Current Archaeology

"Higham and Ryan have managed to write a tome that provides a thorough introduction to the complexities of the ‘Anglo-Saxon world’ at a level that will challenge and stimulate informed readers while introducing those new to the subject to what makes it so fascinating."

"Of course, it helps that the book weighs in at 447 pages, and that with almost 300 colour illustrations it is a work of beauty: the publishers must be given full credit for investing in the production of such a richly illustrated work on this scale. But this is no picture book. Higham and Ryan do not dumb down for their readers. . . . The authors demonstrate that they are writing about a serious subject worthy of serious consideration."

"What is presented right not remains valuable and, indeed, a pleasure to read."—Ryan Lavelle, BBC History Magazine, 1st August 2013

"A magisterial new overview the Anglo-Saxon World. . . . Higham and Ryan, marshalling the latest research from archaeology, genetics, paleobotany, and even plain old literary studies... do a superlative job of putting actual day-to-day flesh and bone onto a period that for far too long was rather conveniently labelled ‘The Dark Ages.’ Their efforts – hugely aided by the glorious illustrations with which Yale University Press has packed this pleasingly oversized volume – are comprehensive and successful; the Anglo-Saxon worlds in all their violent splendour come alive in these pages. . . . By its very nature, The Anglo Saxon World represents a factual advance over all similar volumes that have preceded it, but the passion of its enthusiasms is its main recommendation. Our authors have a big, sprawling story to tell – of ornate tombs and sword-hacked skulls, of gorgeous handcrafts and marauding Vikings, and of some remarkable warrior-kings who stitched a country together out of fragments left behind by the most powerful empire the world had ever seen – and they tell it exceedingly well."—Steve Donoghue, Open Letters

"The Anglo-Saxon World is a beautifully illustrated overview of the foundational period in British history. . . . It’s a pleasure to peruse, and a mine of fresh insights and new discoveries."—Michael Wood, BBC History Magazine

"Full of fresh and original insights, and a delight to peruse, with informative maps and rich illustrations, this is a thought-provoking account that will be of value to specialists but accessible to the much wider range of readers who are fascinated by this formative period in British history. You could hardly have a better, more timely, and more attractive demonstration of why the Anglo-Saxons still matter to us."—Michael Wood, author of In Search of the Dark Ages

"This superb book explains clearly and engagingly how the nation of England began. A comprehensive, readable and up-to-date account of an extraordinarily creative period of history."—Francis Pryor, author of Britain AD: The Quest for Arthur, England and the Anglo-Saxons

"Higham and Ryan are . . . to be congratulated on their overall achievement. The book is immensely readable, and the new scientific and archaeological evidence it presents is bound to fascinate students."—Catherine E. Karkov, University of Leeds, UK