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About The Book

The new book by Sunday Times bestselling author of Ancestors and Buried - the final instalment in Professor Alice Roberts' acclaimed trilogy.

In her previous two bestsellers, Professor Alice Roberts powerfully and evocatively revived people of the past through examining their burial rites, bringing a fresh perspective on how they lived. In Crypt, Professor Roberts brings us face to face with individuals who lived and died between ten and five centuries ago.

The stories in this book are not comforting tales; there’s a focus on pathology, on disease and injury, and the experience of human suffering in the past. We learn of an episode of terrible brutality, when hate speech unleashed a tide of violence against an ethnic minority; of the devastation caused by incurable epidemics sweeping through medieval Europe; of a protracted battle between Church and State for the heart of England – a battle that saw the most famous tomb in the country created and destroyed; and a tumultuous story, forged in the heat of warfare, that takes us out of the Middle Ages into the sixteenth century and the reign of Henry VIII.

In the Middle Ages, there’s barely a written note for most people’s lives. The information we can extract from archaeological human remains represents is an essential tool for understanding our history. Most of these dead will remain anonymous. But, in the thrilling final chapter, Professor Roberts introduces an individual whose life and bones were marked by chronic debilitating disease – and whose name might just be found in history…

Beautifully written, vividly drawn, and expertly researched, this is a brilliant and unexpected portrait of modern Britain.

About The Author

Professor Alice Roberts is an academic, author and broadcaster, specialising in human anatomy, physiology, evolution, archaeology and history. In 2001, Alice made her television debut on Channel 4’s Time Team, and went on to write and present The Incredible Human Journey, Origins of Us and Ice Age Giants on BBC2. She is also the presenter of the popular TV series Digging for Britain. Alice has been a Professor of Public Engagement with Science at the University of Birmingham since 2012.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (July 17, 2024)
  • Length: 352 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781398519237

Raves and Reviews

'An addictive picture of medieval Britain from a cutting edge perspective . . . Roberts is a brilliant guide to the cutting-edge fusion of archaeology and genetics that is doing something special: revealing new facts about a past most people consider dead and buried'

– Evening Standard

Compulsive . . . A wonderful display of how modern archaeology can bring hidden histories to life. Crypt, in fact, is often as much a story about archaeological research techniques as it is one about the Middle Ages. As Roberts surveys the medieval graves, she deftly explains the processes through which the archaeologists working on them came to their discoveries . . . one really gets the sense here of being at the vanguard of the discipline . . . It’s fascinating

– Pablo Scheffer, Daily Telegraph

‘Sainthood, leprosy, Paget’s Disease, the Black Death, the drowned archers of the Mary Rose and anchoresses are all given thoughtful scrutiny, and Roberts’s reflections on Thomas Becket and Canterbury Cathedral are especially entertaining . . . Overall the book is fascinating, and you certainly get your money’s worth

– Spectator

'A gripping set of tales . . . demonstrate[s] how the disciplines of osteoarchaeology, palaeopathology, osteobiology and, newest of all, archaeogenomics, are increasingly used to modify, amplify and even correct written records with all their slant and spin . . . Fascinating'

– Guardian

‘Demonstrates that science can now tell us what killed our predecessors and, aided by historical records, reveal how society treated them. It is detailed and research-heavy but related so engagingly – from time to time Roberts seems suddenly to turn and speak directly to camera – you want to share nuggets with whomever is around . . . She is our renaissance woman, our divided culture’s missing link, and huge fun too'

– The Times

Another year, another really good book from archaeologist Alice Roberts . . . For me, the chapter on the Black Death was a highlight. Roberts weaves together historical accounts of the epidemic with the more recent research . . . Helps you understand the facts on a technical level, but also makes you feel them in your bones

– Michael Marshall, New Scientist

Perfectly riveting reading . . . truly fascinating case studies . . . Prof Roberts is an engaging academic and broadcaster who loves and knows her stuff . . . Crypt focuses more specifically on disease and injury and how scientific advances can help us understand both the cause and context of a person’s death . . . Prof Roberts carries the reader with her, out to the mournful burial sites then back to the labs. Many questions are left hanging, but there are some satisfying conclusions. She reports on the latest international experiments providing supporting evidence . . . she is good at explaining complicated science clearly

– Bronwen Riley, Country Life

‘Roberts coaxes incredible stories from the skeletons’

– Radio Times

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