The Shaping Of The Countryside - Ralph WhitlockReaders Union, 1980, Hardback in Dust Wrapper.
Condition: Very Good — in Very Good Dust Wrapper. Leans slightly. Text complete, clean and tight.
Illustrated with black and white photographs. From the cover: “What a pity we can’t keep the place as it used to be! is a common lament in contemporary rural Britain. To which the proper retort is: As it used to be when?
There is nothing static about the countryside, and there never has been. In every age, those who had their homes in the countryside considered, rightly, that they were living in an age of transition. The young looked forward to an improving future, the old surveyed the past nostalgically. The author of this penetrating book pertinently asks, did a man who trod the Wiltshire trackways 4,000 years ago (and whose skeleton was discovered by another, during excavations in the 1950s) shake his head in disapproval when he first saw the new Stonehenge, deploring the changes typified by the erection of such a monstrous structure?
Each generation has left its signature on the landscape. Much of the writing has been eradicated by time or nearly obliterated by super-impositions, but those who search with patience and understanding may hope to decipher much of it. In this book a distinguished countryman, bred in a West Country village in the days before electricity, piped water, telephones, sewage disposal programmes, agricultural mechanisation and daily paper and television bulletins had made their impact, offers a guide to the legacy of the past. Here, in proper perspective, the contributions of Celt and Saxon, Roman and Norman, hunting monarch and land-enclosing noble are succinctly surveyed. Who laid out the pattern of fields and hedges which characterises our countryside and distinguishes it so clearly from the geologically similar downs of Northern France? Who placed those upright stones in the middle of so many western and northern meadows? What has been the role of man in the design of our ancient woodlands? What implements made the kaleidoscopic patterns we see in the fields?
From this survey of the forces that have shaped our countryside so far, can we trace future trends? The author believes we can. At every stage, we encounter a choice of several ways. The future depends on which one we favour..”