A podcast trilogy for Thames & Hudson, presented by David Miles

Archaeologist and Thames & Hudson author David Miles takes the listener to the prehistoric sites near his home in France’s Cévennes region, to explore three themes from the past that shape the preoccupations of our present. Recorded in summer (Land), autumn (Sky), and spring (Home), this new podcast trilogy reflects David’s deep knowledge of archaeology and the natural world, suffused with the birdsong and sounds from some of France’s most dramatic landscapes.

In Land, David explores a Neolithic stone circle, and meets a stonemason, to reflect on how prehistoric land clearances relate to anxieties about environmental degradation today.

In Sky, David’s encounters with a shepherd and a Neolithic tomb prompt reflection on our contemporary disconnection from the sky, and on a long-running archaeological question: How much did prehistoric societies know about the sky’s workings?

Finally, David visits the ruins of a Copper Age village to explore how our idea of Home emerged: a place of pots and permanence, and a boundary between the domestic and the wild.

David Miles is the author of The Tale of the Axe: How the Neolithic Revolution Shaped Britain, and The Land of the White Horse, Visions of England, both published by Thames & Hudson. A pioneer of rescue archaeology in the 1970s, David served as director of Oxford Archaeology, and then as chief archaeologist of English Heritage. David and his wife Gwyn have lived in the Cévennes for 20 years.

The Making of Land, Sky, Home
by Julius Purcell, Producer
My discovery of David Miles’s books published by Thames & Hudson brought joy to the lockdowns of 2020. Pitched between scholarship and storytelling, David draws the reader with warmth and humour into his rich, polymathic world.

Although neither The Tale of an Axe nor The Land of the White Horse are about the Cévennes, its author makes numerous references to his home there, and so, in late 2020, I phoned him out of the blue: “You don’t know me, but I want to make podcasts with you walking around the Cévennes,” I told him, and David said: “Yeah, alright. Let’s do it.”

In the course of the visits that followed, David juggled roles as archaeologist, twitcher, botanist, gardener, raconteur, and the chef of his favourite daube stew. My co-producer Daniel Saul and I have tramped with him through forests and over plateaus, recording reels of conversations with him and his wife, curator Gwyn Miles, whose expert discussion of ceramics is featured in Home.

Land, Sky, Home took shape in the shadow of the pandemic, an event that prompted widespread reflection on our place as humans in history and nature. Creating the series immersed us in the natural world: the baking heat of the limestone hills, the vultures that soared above the crags, and the Spring dawn choruses punctuated by woodpeckers. We hope that, along with David’s insights, the wild beauty of the Cévennes also infuses the episodes you are about to hear.


By Archaeologist David Miles, Writer Producer Julius Purcell, Script consultancy and Sound Design Daniel Saul