Watling Street

Paperback / ISBN-13: 9781474603485

Price: £9.99

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A journey along one of Britain’s oldest roads, from Dover to Anglesey, in search of the hidden history that makes us who we are today.

‘A bravura piece of writing – Bill Bryson on acid’ Tom Holland

Winding its way from the White Cliffs of Dover to the Druid groves of Anglesey, the ancient road of Watling Street has gone by many different names. It is a road of witches and ghosts, of queens and highwaymen, of history and myth, of Bletchley Park codebreakers, Chaucer, Boudicca, Dickens and James Bond. But Watling Street is not just the story of a route across our island. It is an acutely observed exploration of Britain and who we are today, told with wit and an unerring eye for the curious and surprising.


'One of the best books I've ever read . . . addictively illuminating in these turbulent times'
Martin 'Youth' Glover
'A truly fascinating book . . . from one of the best writers on cultural history we have'
Scott Pack
'[A] delightful and inventive contemplation of the way history has shaped Britain, and vice versa'
Mick Herron, Geographical
'Myths combine with staggeringly fascinating facts, while Higgs' take on our national imagination and the nature of history is refreshingly original . . . [A] mad, but brilliant, odyssey'
Rebecca Armstrong, I Paper
'Fascinating stuff'
History Revealed
'Watling Street is unusual, original and strangely beautiful. It's full of wonderful stories about this remarkable road, expertly brought to life by Higgs. And even though it's a travel book, it has more to say about the current climate than most political books'
Jamie Bartlett, author of <i>Radicals</i>
'In the same way that Watling Street slices through the UK, Higgs's trademark crystal clarity of thought slices through this country's nationalistic hysteria. We owe it to ourselves to join him on this vital and endlessly insightful journey'
Jason Arnopp, author of <i>The Last Days of Jack Sparks</i>
'It is an ambitious attempt to find a grassroots British identity that eschews the political, and one that ultimately succeeds'
Adam Cunnane, Big Issue in the North
'A bravura piece of writing - Bill Bryson on acid'
Tom Holland
'Wry and thought-provoking. Higgs expresses a history that is not simply that of kings or victors, but of the British people who have shaped the Britain we know'
Who Do You Think You Are? </i>magazine
'On a long drive like this, your companion matters as much as the route, of course - and Higgs is an entertaining one, garrulous but disinclined to hector'
Tom Sutcliffe, Mail on Sunday Event
'Mischievous and iconoclastic . . . [Higgs's] is a systematising imagination, able to harness disparate elements and find the patterns that animate them; that he does so in a more socially inclusive manner than many enriches his theories enormously'
Melissa Harrison, Financial Times
'The range of reference in this book makes for an inspiring read, and anyone with an interest in British history or identity will find something to learn, and something to think about'
Your Family History
'A fascinating, erudite and esoteric portrait of Britain . . . Cliche-free and engrossing, this is a wonderful book'
New European
A very interesting book . . . great fun and many surprises. One of its glories is that you feel you are in the company of a real person - this is somebody talking to you on a walk, and that's a great feature
Alexander McCall Smith, BBC Radio 4's A Good Read
'A new vision of England . . . full of magic, mystery and bits of William Blake'
Ian Samson, Times Literary Supplement
'It's erudite, funny, philosophical, often wildly esoteric and packed with factual asides . . . Above all Watling Street provokes a new and exciting discourse on national pride and identity. You can hear the singing of our ancestors in a chorus of shared heritage whose melody is steeped in the land'
Charlie Connelly, New European
'It has been said by the old magicians that Watling Street was created in a single night. Or revealed to us between sleeping and waking - a potentiality that is always there but which we have to learn to read. John Higgs does just that: a bright necklace of recoveries and collisions and remarkable witnesses. A tale-telling pilgrim to entertain and inform as we jolt along the way'
Iain Sinclair
'Juggling wit and wisdom, [Higgs] brings a lively twist to a thoroughly British story'
'In Watling Street, an exploration of modern Britain and what it means to be British today, Higgs offers a more nuanced understanding of the national psyche . . . a book for our times'
Ian Thomson, Observer
A timely look at national identity and how it forges the world around us.
'A humorous and thoughtful guide'
Huston Gilmore, Daily Express
'In these divisive times, when British identity is so much discussed, Watling Street is a rich and relevant work, making a compelling case that our truest heritage is simply the spirituality of the land and the vast, vibrant patchwork of our individual stories'
Richard Tarrant, The Lady
'One of those books where you constantly find yourself underlining pithy quotes, it's a compelling study of the origins of our national identity, at a time when it's becoming more complex than ever'
Caroline Sanderson, The Bookseller