Other Sellers on Amazon
Download the free Kindle app and start reading Kindle books instantly on your smartphone, tablet or computer – no Kindle device required. Learn more
Read instantly on your browser with Kindle Cloud Reader.
Using your mobile phone camera, scan the code below and download the Kindle app.
Please enter your mobile phone number or email address
By pressing "Send link", you agree to Amazon's Conditions of Use.
You consent to receive an automated text message from or on behalf of Amazon about the Kindle App at your mobile number above. Consent is not a condition of any purchase. Message and data rates may apply.
Follow the Author
The Ancient Paths: Discovering the Lost Map of Celtic Europe Paperback – 3 July 2014
Save Extra with 4 offers
Enhance your purchase
Frequently bought together
'a wonderful writer . . . No one else can make a bike ride through the French countryside so enthralling. No one else so relishes the odd corners of history.' Sunday Times
'Robb produces an elaborately detailed account of [Celtic] society and ideas . . . Those who enjoy a mixture of myth and archaeology, who admire a vivid metaphor and a fine turn of phrase, will find much in this book to enjoy.' New Statesman
'He is such a warm, gentle and generous writer, with no faux scholarly tosh or solitary ecstasy riffs [and] Robb's own calm eloquence is deeply persuasive . . . If Graham Robb has discovered that Ancient Gaul was arranged as a reflection of the universe, then that amazing discovery, and this heroically courageous publication of it, is a wonder and a marvel.' Adam Nicolson, Evening Standard
'The findings of Graham Robb, a biographer and historian, bring into question two millennia of thinking about Iron Age Britain and Europe and the stereotyped image of Celts as barbarous, superstitious tribes.' Daily Telegraph
‘Presenting one of the most astonishing, significant discoveries in recent memory, Robb, winner of the Duff Cooper Prize and Ondaatje Award for The Discovery of France, upends nearly everything we believe about the history―or, as he calls it, protohistory―of early Europe and its barbarous Celtic tribes and semimythical Druids. Popularly dismissed as superstitious, wizarding hermits, Robb demonstrates how the Druids were perhaps the most intellectually advanced thinkers of their age: scientists and mathematicians who, through an intimate knowledge of solstice lines, organized their towns and cities to mirror the paths of their Sun god, in turn creating the earliest accurate map of the world. In his characteristically approachable yet erudite manner, Robb examines how this network came to be and also how it vanished, trampled over by a belligerent Rome, which has previously received credit for civilizing Europe―though in Robb’s account, Caesar, at the helm, appears dim, unwitting, and frankly lucky, and the (often literally) deeply buried Celtic beliefs and innovations seem more relevant in modern Europe than previously assumed. Like the vast and intricate geographical latticework that Robb has uncovered, the book unfurls its secrets in an eerie, magnificent way―a remarkable, mesmerizing, and bottomless work.' Publishers Weekly, Starred Review and Pick of the Week
'One certainly has to admire the perseverance Robb has shown, not just researching in libraries and map rooms, but also following trails on the ground. Fifteen thousand miles on a bike, very often to places that no tourist or researcher has ever visited or even inquired about before . . . If you accept Robb's complex arguments, drawn from astronomy, philology, archaeology and history, you do indeed get a new view of an ancient civilisation . . . all those miles on the bike. All those archaeological discoveries pointed out. If nothing else, The Ancient Paths creates a new respect for the ancient Gauls, and the ancient Britons. Whatever Caesar may have said, they weren't all woad and moustaches.' Tom Shippey, Guardian
'an enthralling new history . . . 'Important if true' . . . rings loud in the ears as one reads the latest book by Graham Rob, a biographer and historian of distinction whose new work, if everything in it proves to be correct, will blow apart two millennia of thinking about Iron Age Britain and Europe and put several scientific discoveries back by centuries . . . it presents extraordinary conclusions in a deeply persuasive and uncompromising manner. What surfaces from these elegant pages - if true - is nothing less than a wonder of the ancient world: the first solid evidence of Druidic science and its accomplishments and the earliest accurate map of a continent . . . a book almost indecently stuffed with discoveries . . . suggestions follow thick and fast, backed by a mixture of close reading, mathematical construction and scholarly detective work . . . Robb manages his revelations with a showman's skill, modestly conscious that his book is unfurling a map of Iron Age Europe and Britain that has been inaccessible for millennia. Every page produces new solutions to old mysteries, some of them so audacious that the reader may laugh aloud . . . Beautifully written . . . It's a magnificent piece of historical conjecture, backed by a quizzical scholarly intellect and given a personal twist by experiment . . . watching its conclusions percolate through popular and academic history promises to be thrilling. Reading it is already an electrifying and uncanny experience: there is something gloriously unmodern about seeing a whole new perspective on history so comprehensively birthed in a single book. If true, very important indeed.' ― Daily Telegraph
'The Romans did a good job of writing their predecessors out of history . . . As the conquerors got to write the history, we have to rely on their account of what they found. But as Robb makes clear, they told only part of the story.' Observer
An ingenious and thoroughly gripping historical and archaeological bolt from the blue -- Books of the Year ― New Statesman
From the Back Cover
'An ingenious and thoroughly gripping historical and archaeological bolt from the blue.'
New Statesman, Books of the Year 2013
When Graham Robb made plans to cycle the route of the legendary Via Heraklea, he had no idea that his journey would change his understanding of pre-Roman Europe. The ancient path he followed took him deep into the civilization of the Celts, where his discoveries were so extraordinary that he spent years trying to disprove them.
Grounded in astronomy, philology, archaeology and history - not to mention 15,000 miles on a bicycle - this book presents nothing less than a new wonder of the ancient world.
'The Romans did a good job of writing their predecessors out of history . . . As Robb makes clear, they told only part of the story.'
'The findings of Graham Robb, a biographer and historian, bring into question two millennia of thinking about Iron Age Britain and Europe.'
'Remarkable . . . an overarching, wondrous reworking of history.'
Philip Hoare, Literary Review
- Publisher : Picador; First edition (3 July 2014)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 400 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0330531514
- ISBN-13 : 978-0330531511
- Reading age : 18 years and up
- Item Weight : 291 g
- Dimensions : 13 x 2.5 x 19.7 cm
- Country of Origin : USA
- Best Sellers Rank: #507,242 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from other countries
History is written by the victors, and historians don't like oral histories, so often our "history" tends to start with the Romans.
Looking beyond the Romans offers many challenges, but this seems to have been a worthwhile exercise. Starting from the Heraklean way this progresses to describe a system of laying out routes and measuring the land, with enough remaining evidence to make it seem quite likely. I like to see technological capability of pre-Roman civilisation investigated and acknowledged, so for me this was very much a welcome work.
Some times I found the book a little hard to follow, but I am getting used to this, reading Celtic work, where one person has about four common variants to their name, which are used variably according to the context.
I would have liked more illustration - pictures in the earlier part of the story, but as much of it revolved around explaining why there was nothing to see, that might be futile.
The hardback book is one of those with thick but low density low quality pages, and only line drawn illustration, essentially a paperback in a larger format. I guess this keeps the price down.
This is a welcome addition to my collection of works on pre-historic (pre-Roman) geometry, surveying, and astronomy, being already a great fan of Prof. Thom's works. Pre-Romans were not ignorant. The Romans might actually have suppressed some of the learning of the Druids.
An informative and generally enjoyable read.
From the early parts of his theory I was suspicious; he acknowledges that the "solstice lines" - the direction of the solsticial sunsets and sunrises - change with latitude. What he does not address is the fact that they change quite a lot, especially the further north you go; within Britain there is a six degree difference from Dover to Edinburgh, and a further five degrees as you travel to Orkney. There's even a ten degree difference between the "Pillars of Hercules" and northern Gaul - so the carefully drawn lines across his maps are pretty meaningless.
Unfortunately Robb doesn't explain how exactly the druidical experts set about setting up these incredibly long lines which cross varied terrain, and in places wide estuaries. He increasingly uses the work "exactly" as the book progresses, leaving me feeling in the company of someone who is getting desperate in trying to convince me of his arguments.
So, I was somewhat disappointed. However, "The Debatable Land" was written after this stuff, so it won't entirely put me off reading another of his books.
Graham Robb discovers how the roads of Europe were laid out - long before the Romans - according to Druidic calculations based on the summer and winter solstices and named poetically. This includes the Four Royal Roads of Watling Street, the Fosse Way, Ermin Street and the Icknield Way.
His section on Britain is mindblowing because he explains how the Druids' teachings on the maths for this kind of surveying was hidden in the Welsh myths about Lludd and Llevelys, the battling Red and White Dragons of Dinas Emrys and in Celtic and Pictish art.