The Modern Antiquarian is an eight-year odyssey in search of prehistoric Britain. Of the countless sites visited, over 300 of the very best have been selected, their remains photographed and their relationship with the landscape explained.
The Modern Antiquarian takes the traveller to the first temples built on these islands, in order to shine a light into the shadowy past of a modern people who have been hoodwinked into believing their history began with the Roman conquest.
Although essentially a travel book, the essay section of The Modern Antiquarian examines our prehistoric beginnings through the evidence of our megalithic remains and their surroundings, in order to help us reconcile where we are Right Now.
“Such a splendid book, splendid in both its illustrations and its prose, rare partners in the archaeological world. I shall use it, of course.”
— Aubrey Burl
“The best popular guide to Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments for half a century.”
— Ronald Hutton
“Just visiting the sites is a major achievement... If Cope can be regarded as a barometer of the wider expectations of what archaeology should be doing, and I believe he should, then we must sit up and take note of the implications of this book.”
— Timothy Darvill, Antiquity
“A fine balance between the academic and the personal and the poetic... Deadly serious about his chosen subject, Cope has amassed an impressive knowledge of our nation's landscape and its monumental masonry circa 3000BC.”
— Evening Standard
“A strange and marvellous artefact - remarkable for its seriousness.”
— The Independent
“A remarkable fusion of scholarship, practical advice and visionary insight.”
— The Express
“It is deeply impressive... Ancient History: the New Rock'n'Roll.”
The Megalithic European is the conclusion of a 10-year odyssey that began with my research for its predecessor, THE MODERN ANTIQUARIAN, and took me far beyond the prehistoric sites of Britain dealt with in that first book. From here I literally journeyed from the temple circles of Ireland to the stone boats of Scandanavia and megaliths of the Mediterranean. What emerged was a 21st-century travelogue through some of the oldest structures in the world.
I also realized that no-one had even attempted a thorough look at Europe before, and even the existing books that had skimmed the surface were long out of print. The Megalithic European is my second huge guide to the first monuments of humanity, this time taking in over 300 prehistoric sites on mainland Europe and in its islands. the essay section examines the mystery of our prehistoric beginnings in order for us to understand and enrich our lives in the here and now. The gazetteer section is relentlessly thorough, with detailed instructions on how to get to these sites, and is stuffed as full as I could make it with over 800 colour photographs, maps, antiquarian drawings, reconstruction illustrations of these sacred places, and my own black and white drawings which just seemed to multiply as I moved from place to place.
The secret weapon of this book is the surprising accessibility of these prehistoric megaliths. British travellers love to go abroad and the megalithic sites just happen to be in many of the places the British love to go already. Perfect. Low cost airlines can whizz you to places you've barely heard of and you're only a half-hour away from great stones! Mums or dads who always spoil their kids' holidays with re-routes away from the beach onto Bodmin Moor can now set their kids up and troll around umpteen Sardinian, Menorcan, Mallorcan, Maltese, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Breton or Irish stone circles, etc. Compromises can be had in the northern sites around the Baltic, where kids will be happy to spend the summer in clean seas, with megaliths close to the Dutch, German, Danish and Swedish coasts.
I felt that a British overview could get open-minded travellers out there to the monuments themselves - an ideal way to move the study up one further notch, getting some kind of dialogue going that will allow us all to see the context of our ancient past.
I'm past the stage of trying to theorize about these places. I know what I believe, but I'm more interested in getting other people to see for themselves. Yes, the book is heavyweight and archaeologically thorough, but, better still, it's full of amazingly photogenic sites across Europe that would make anyone travel!
In his review for The Times, Ronald Hutton described The Modern Antiquarian and The Megalithic European thus:
"They are a pair of gigantic concept albums that are both works of art and labours of love; and crackingly useful guidebooks as well."
Of The Megalithic European, Aubrey Burl has called it
"a magnificent production, handsome, astonishingly well-illustrated and rather well-researched ... a most impressive book ... my only advantage is that I started on the frustrating venture almost forty years before Julian. But I think he's caught up!"