23 December 2009

The Year 1000

Remember the Millenium and the threat of Y2K crashing computers and the world? Seems a long time ago. At the time, Robert Lacey and Danny Danziger wrote a social history of England in the year 1000, the first Millenium.

It is the world of the Anglo Saxons, with the book structured around the Julius Work calendar, but ranging widely. Slaves, Vikings and war. Feasts, famine and hunting. Money, trade and divorce. Religious life and medical knowledge. Did you know Wales was a source of slaves and that the stench of smouldering goat hair will relieve lower back pain?

Lacey and Danziger write an accessible book. Some of their comparisons bring home the everyday ordinariness of Anglo Saxon life. So, people's familiarity with lives of the saints is compared to present day familiarity with the lives of soap opera stars.

This is a history book to enjoy. As the authors say, quoting Bede: May you read happily.

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