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The Lost Gods of England by Brian Branston

The Lost Gods of England (1957)

by Brian Branston

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I looked forward to reading this book after Kathleen Herbert's excellent "Looking for the Lost Gods of England". The book had excellent reviews at Amazon and so I thought it was worth buying the hardcover.

The book is presented as an academic tome, examining the archaeological evidence for the gods of the northern pantheon being part of the pagan tradition in England. It has various illustrations throughout of archaeological finds.

Here my interest ended. It has taken me several long months to get through this book because I find it so frustrating.

Perhaps the nature of archaeology has changed since this book was first written (1974), but I find the author only to willing to build very unstable bridges between what is fact and what he wants to be true. He almost forces the evidence to fit his theories and, to me, this is bad methodology indeed.

One can theorise, but one should be careful saying, "The evidence could suggest this, or it could suggest that", not: "One has this theory and the evidence proves it categorically", when there are clearly other explanations.

For instance, he provides explanations for various images found on objects; his tone and manner implying that his is the accepted meaning amongst historians, when, in fact, it is not.

The other problem I had with his assertions is that the link between certain names in Old English and the Nordic gods was tenuous indeed. Having read various books, and theories on the northern gods and looked at the links in various old languages, Mr Branston seems to take things that little too far.

Mr Branston is very enthusiastic, but, perhaps in his enthusiasm, he leaves much to be desired in terms of accuracy.

For me, at least, and my opinion is very personal, this book is one I will not be keeping; it contradicted far too many other books on archaeology and the northern gods. I like people who can back up their statements with substantial evidence, not mere hope. ( )
  Sile | Apr 24, 2007 |
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