Lost Gods of Albion: The Chalk Hill-Figures of Britain, by Paul Newman. Published by Sutton Publishing, 260 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10001. 212-213-2775. 216 pages. $39.95 hardcover.
Because so little is known for certain about the origins of many of Britain’s famous hillside chalk figures, they have prompted much investigation by both professional and amateur antiquaries over the centuries, have given rise to some colourful myths and legends, and have prompted raucous celebrations revolving around either their maintenance or their supposed mystical powers.
Paul Newman has gathered together these strands of fact and fiction into an exhaustive survey of this uniquely British phenomenon. His descriptions include not only the most famous figures–the Uffington White Horse, the Cerne Abbas Giant, and the Wilmington Long Man–but also many obscure and even vanished figures known only from 17th- and 18th-century literary references. In each case he provides the known history of the figure and a summary of how it has been interpreted by researchers. Down-to-earth scientific findings stand side by side with tales of Anglo-Saxon warriors, Celtic gods, dragons, and wizards. The total amounts to easily the best singlevolume source yet for lore relating to some of Britain’s most enigmatic ancient monuments.