Prehistoric Lancashire

By David Barrowclough. History Press (formerly Tempus Books) 2008
This book is the product of a number of years of research into the history and archaeology of the local area, particularly the early history of Cheshire and Lancashire, beginning with the first hunter-gatherer groups about 10,000 years ago. It includes new research on the archaeology of the area, including the excavations at Manchester Airport and Tatton, where evidence of early settlement was found. The book also includes evidence for the early Bronze Age burials found at Grappenhall and Winwick. Of particular interest are thirty recent radiocarbon dates from the burials, which give new insights into changing burial practices through the late Neolthic and early Bronze Age. There is also osteological evidence, based on studies of the cremated bone, from which it has been possible to determine the sex/age of the person buried. This evidence has also shed new light on the associated burial goods. Other chapters deal with the Bronze Age metalwork finds, such as the Congleton Hoard and stray finds revealed by farmers and metal detectorists; and with the Hillforts, including Beeston Castle.
The book, which costs £19.99, is available from  Amazon, or from local bookshops. It can also be ordered directly from the author. Please send a cheque payable to: Dr David Barrowclough, Fellow in Archaeology, Wolfson College, University of Cambridge, CB3 9BB.

Excavations at Chester, 25 Bridge Street 2001: Two Thousand Years of Life in Microcosm

By Dan Garner and Others. Chester City Council 2009. (Archaeological Service Excavation & Survey Report No 14)

Excavations in the backlands on the east side of Bridge Street have provided a wealth of archaeological evidence for 2000 years of the city’s history. Combined with documentary references, this has enabled us to build up a detailed picture of the evolution of Chester’s urban form and the trades, lifestyle and status of the people who lived in the area.

The groups of Roman and early post-medieval ceramics, clay pipes, vessel glass, well-preserved animal bones and plant remains are the largest to be published from the city and, in some cases, from the north-west, and will ensure that this publication remains a major reference work for years to come.

Life in a late medieval city, Chester 1275 – 1520

By Jane Laughton. Windgather Press 2008.
In the late medieval period, Chester was the most important place in north-western England, serving as administrative centre of the county palatine and as the regional capital. The city was not large but was further enhanced by its role as ecclesiastical capital and garrison town. Chester’s location ensured close links with Wales and Ireland. This study of Chester is based on a wide range of sources, written and archaeological, and contains much that is new. It reveals a city with its own distinctive character but one which shared the experiences of towns throughout medieval England. Particular use is made of the court rolls, records that have the potential to illuminate social relationships at the neighbourhood level. The book therefore makes an importnat contribution to the study of medieval urban history. The picture that emerges is of a lively community that responded to social and economic change with enthusiasm and enterprise.

Irby, Wirral: Excavations on a Late Prehistoric, Romano-British and Medieval site 1987-96

By Robert A Philpott and Mark H Adams. 270 pp. Liverpool: National Museums Liverpool 2010.  ISBN 9781902700410

A chance find of Roman pottery in a garden at Irby, Wirral, in the 1940s led in 1987 to the discovery of an important and long-lived settlement site by archaeologists from National Museums and Galleries on Merseyside (now National Museums Liverpool). Excavating from 1987 to 1996 in a series of suburban gardens, they found evidence for a long sequence of occupation from the Bronze Age, Iron Age, Romano-British, early medieval and later medieval periods. This report presents the evidence of the structures, artefacts and plant remains from this long-lived settlement. Key discoveries include regionally important buildings from the middle Bronze Age and from the Viking period, as well as extensive Roman and late medieval occupation, which contributes significantly to our understanding of settlement and economy in Wirral and the wider region during these periods.
This report can be bought from the National Museums Liverpool online bookshop( http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/onlineshop/product-list.aspx?cat=22) for GBP 16 plus p&p or from Amazon.

Viking DNA: the Wirral and West Lancashire project

By S Harding, M A Jobling & T King.  Pbk. 150 pp, numerous colour illustrations. Birkenhead: Countyvise, 2010. ISBN-10: 1906823464; ISBN-13: 9781906823467.

This new book by Steve Harding, Mark Jobling and Turi King sets out the results of the first part of a genetic survey of northern England ? embracing the Wirral and west Lancashire  ? and explains the basis behind the DNA method to probe ancestry.

The book is introduced with a foreword by UK/BBC historian and broadcaster Michael Wood, after which the authors set out to show, with the help of full colour illustrations and in plain language, what DNA is and how DNA methods can be used to probe both individual and population ancestry.