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About The Book


'Compulsive . . . A wonderful display of how modern archaeology can bring hidden histories to life' Daily Telegraph

'Gripping . . . I found it hard to put down' Evening Standard

'Another really good book from archaeologist Alice Roberts . . . Helps you understand the facts on a technical level, but also makes you feel them in your bones' New Scientist

'Robert's reflections on Thomas Becket and Canterbury Cathedral are especially entertaining . . . Fascinating' Spectator

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

We can unlock secrets from bones preserved for centuries in tombs, graves and crypts.

The history of the Middle Ages is typically the story of the rich and powerful, there’s barely a written note for most people’s lives. Archaeology represents another way of interrogating our history. By using cutting-edge science to examine human remains and burials, it is possible to unearth details about how individuals lived and died that give us a new understanding of the past – one that is more intimate and inclusive than ever before.

The seven stories in Crypt are not comforting tales. We meet the patients at one of the earliest hospitals in England and the victims of the St Brice’s Day Massacre. We see a society struggling to make sense of disease, disability and death, as incurable epidemics sweep through medieval Europe. We learn of a protracted battle between Church and State that led to the murder of Thomas Becket and the destruction of the most famous tomb in England. And we come face to face with the archers who went down with Henry VIII’s favourite ship, the Mary Rose.

Beautifully written and expertly researched by Professor Alice Roberts, Crypt is packed with thrilling discoveries that will make you see the history of Britain afresh.

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 (February 29, 2024)
  • Length: 352 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781398519244

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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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