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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fresh look at the landscape and how it has been seen, 1 Mar 2012
By 
Jon (Grimsby, England) - See all my reviews
Imagine that AG Dickens and WG Hoskins had an illicit child who was brought up in Australia and then came to England for her doctoral work. Well OK it isn't very likely, and this conceit will only work for you if you were a student in the 1960s, when Dickens and Hoskins led their respective fields.
Whatever her background Alexandra Walsham is a consummate historian who has written a very compelling history of the way that the landscape has influenced religion and been influenced by changing religious sensibilities.
Her book covers a vast area of both space and time but her examples are sure to include some that will please you wherever you live in the United Kingdom, as she finds cases from each of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. She starts before the reformation looking at the way that features of the landscape were closely aligned to individual saints and orders. The tumultuous overturning of this sacred landscape leads her on to the way that gradually the protestants were reconciled to a religious landscape of their own, sometimes because they found themselves without places of worship and sometimes as they rewrote the theological significance of the holy places. Wells and springs for example are dealt with in considerable detail as the medicinal benefits of water wash away the sacred implications of cleansing. Along the way Alexandra Walsham discusses among many other topics the changing theories about standing stones and henges, and the evolution of antiquarianism and archaeology, as well as historiography and the relationship of folklore, belief and history. I am sure that this book will be enjoyed by readers of a wide variety of backgrounds, beliefs and interests; also that it will spur other historians into pushing research further and for non experts to wander into their own local landscape of ruins and wells with newly informed curiosity.
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