Over the centuries how did our ancestors relate to their environment - the climate, the sea, the soil and other animals - in their everyday business of survival, as well as in a more spiritual role? Through a large number of case studies John Evans presents a history of the interactions between people and their biophycial environment in the British Isles - from the earliest inhabitants down to the emergence of towns and cities in the middle ages. Deliberately avoiding macro-schemes of causation and change linked to climate and other overall factors, he emphasises the importance of the small locale - of the interaction between people and environment that takes place there and so forms the basis for community maintenance. Examples range, in time, from Boxgrove Man to medieval York and, geographically, from north-east Ireland and the Shetlands to Dartmoor and the East Anglian fen-edge.
By showing what can be derived from conventional archaeological data, when analysed in relation to past environments, Professor Evans has not only produced an up-to-date and jargon-free textbook for all archaeologists - from first-year undergraduates to a wide range of amateurs - but has not produced a blueprint for future research by his professional colleagues.