Highstead, near Chislet, Kent (Hardback)
In the Foreword, Barry Cunliffe writes: "The publication of the excavation of the multi-period settlement site at Highstead near Chislet is a matter for celebration. Highstead, with its long sequence of occupation spanning the first millennium B.C. and early first millennium A.D., was excavated under difficult conditions between 1975 and 1977 in those pioneering days when rescue archaeology was in its infancy. It is a story well told by Paul Bennett in his preface and is a stark reminder of how hand-to-mouth archaeology was in the era before developer-funding. What the small dedicated team managed to recover during the course of those three punishing years was little short of remarkable. More remarkable still has been the dogged determination of the Canterbury Archaeological Trust to see the project through to the completion of full academic publication." The value of Highstead is two-fold. It is a type-site for Late Bronze Age and Iron Age settlement in eastern Britain and it provides a pottery sequence without parallel in the region which demonstrates not only the longue durée development of ceramic technology throughout the first millennium but also the mobility of ideas and of course people between the Continent and Britain. It is no exaggeration to say that Highstead calls for a complete reassessment of connectivity in the ChannelNorth Sea zone. Paul Bennett, in his preface, says that this report is unashamedly old fashioned. If by this he means it is designed to be used rather than to impress, he is right. There is an unfortunate tendency these days to produce either superficial, colourful accounts bereft of necessary detail or tortured constructions muddling interpretation with observation. The Highstead report is crisp, well structured and a delight to use. The facts are logically presented and easy of access, and there follows a splendid interpretative essay succinctly placing the site in its national and international context. What more could one want?