Temporary Palaces: The Great House in European Prehistory [Paperback]

Richard Bradley (Author)

ISBN: 9781789256611 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Series: Oxbow Insights in Archaeology | Volume: 7 | Year of Publication: 2021 | Language: English 256p, H198 x W126 (mm) B/w

Also available as an ebook from:
Buy From Amazon Amazon
Buy From Barnes and Noble Barnes & Noble
Buy From Kobo Kobo
Buy From Google Google

Oxbow Books will earn a small commission if you buy an ebook after clicking a link here.

Temporary Palaces


The Great Houses of the prehistoric and early medieval periods were enormous structures whose forms were modelled on those of domestic dwellings. Most were built of wood rather than stone; they were used over comparatively short periods; they were frequently replaced in the same positions; and some were associated with exceptional groups of artefacts. Their construction made considerable demands on human labour and approached the limits of what was possible at the time. They seem to have played specialised roles in ancient society, but they have been difficult to interpret. Were they public buildings or the dwellings of important people? Were they temples or military bases, and why were they erected during times of crisis or change? How were their sites selected, and how were they related to the remains of a more ancient past? Although their currency extended from the time of the first farmers to the Viking Age, the similarities between the Great Houses are as striking as the differences.

This study focuses on the monumental buildings of northern and northwestern Europe, but draws on structures over a wide area, extending from Anatolia as far as Brittany and Norway. It employs ethnography as a source of ideas and discusses the concept of the House Society and its usefulness in archaeology. The main examples are taken from the Neolithic and Iron Age periods, but this account also draws on the archaeology of the first millennium AD. The book emphasises the importance of comparing archaeological sequences with one another rather than identifying ideal social types. In doing so, it features a range of famous and less famous sites, from Stonehenge to the Hill of Tara, and from Old Uppsala to Yeavering.

Table of Contents

Chapter One ‘Nobody on earth knew of another building like it.’
Chapter Two From Anatolia to Zealand: an A to Z of Great Houses
Chapter Three From the foundations
Chapter Four Castles in the air
Chapter Five On a larger scale
Chapter Six Social distances
Chapter Seven Halls of residence and Halls of Fame
Chapter Eight Building societies: a summary and some conclusions

Reviews & Quotes

"A stimulating review. "
Mike Pitts, Reviews Editor
British Archaeology

"[T]his is wide-ranging and thought-provoking book which should be read by anyone interested in the architecture of European prehistory but equally by early-medieval archaeologists engaged in buildings and their meanings."
Marianne Hem Eriksen
Medieval Archaeology (16/01/2023)

Product Tags

Use spaces to separate tags. Use single quotes (') for phrases.

Memory usage: real: 24117248, emalloc: 23644872
Code ProfilerTimeCntEmallocRealMem