A.D. 500: A Journey Through the Dark Isles of Britain and Ireland

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9780297848059: A.D. 500: A Journey Through the Dark Isles of Britain and Ireland

AD 500 is written as a practical survival guide for the use of civilised visitors to the barbaric islands of Britain and Ireland. It describes a journey which begins in Cornwall and continues through Wales and Ireland, then across to Scotland and eventually down to London and southern Britain. The Romans have left, and the islands are now fought over by Irish, British Celts, Picts and Saxons. It is a dangerous world, full of tribal war. The British Celts are enthusiastic head-hunters, while the Saxon gods require regular blood sacrifices, animal and sometimes human. There are social pitfals too ( Do not make fun of the Celts' beliefs about Arthur'...The traveller must not fall asleep while a saga poem is being recited'...'Don't refuse a place in a Welsh collective bed') Cheviot bandits, bizarre forms of Christianity, boat burials, peculiar haircuts, human sacrifice, poetry competitions, slave markets, the legend of King Arthur - these are the realities of life in the sixth century AD.

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About the Author:

Simon Young was awarded a starred First in Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic from Cambridge University, as well as the Chadwick Prize for Celtic studies. Since then he has lived in Spain, Ireland and Italy, where he is now completing a doctorate at the University of Florence. The author of many academic articles, he has also written about the Dark Ages for History Today, the Spectator, and the Guardian. He combines a commitment to serious history, especially that of the medieval Celts, with a desire to communicate Dark Age history to the general public. He lives in Florence with his Italian wife.


'Simon Young offers nugget after nugget of fascinating detail to paint a colourful portrait of a time when native savagery was being tempered by the arrival of Christianity in a country on the cusp between druidic power and the first cold grip of Church rule... This bawdy , picaresque and high-spirited book... wears its considerable learning lightly and opens a window on a time long neglected...' IRELAND ON SUNDAY 'Informative and entertaining, this is popular history at its best.' FINANCIAL TIMES 'A kind of Roman Britain version of Mad Max... a brilliant, funny, original book'. Yorkshire Evening Press 'Entertaining and informative... It throws new light on the mysterious Dark Ages'. Belfast Telegraph 'A cross between David Starkey and Bill Bryson with a bit of 1066 and all that mixed in'. BBC South East '... an accessible overview of what Britain might have been like after the Romans had left.' BBC HISTORY MAGAZINE 'Enjoyable and ingenious, this breathes life into the period.' SCOTLAND ON SUNDAY 'very clever' BRITISH ARCHAEOLOGY 'hugely entertaining... What a joy to be able to recommend a book about misery, bloodshed and grisly superstition for being funny, compassionate and clear-eyed.' INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY

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