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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but contentious
This is a very good book to have for reference on your shelf and you'll soon start spotting things about places that you wouldn't have done before. The author's viewpoint that you must necessarily be religious to appreciate a place, or that lack of belief has previously sparked the collapse of eras is contestable. However don't let this spoil your enjoyment of an...
Published 9 months ago by Clare Louise Fryer

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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting, if slight introduction to the subject
The subject of this book is fascinating. A history of the spirituality if Britain from the megalithic to the modern day told through the landscape, architecture and even language of the isles. Each chapter is themed around one aspect of this impact and relates to a particular theme (locations of worship, architecture, town design, agriculture etc). With some 7,000 years...
Published on 28 Jun 2012 by Amazon Customer


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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting, if slight introduction to the subject, 28 Jun 2012
By 
Amazon Customer (Leamington Spa, Warwickshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Sacred Land: Decoding Britain's extraordinary past through its towns, villages and countryside (Paperback)
The subject of this book is fascinating. A history of the spirituality if Britain from the megalithic to the modern day told through the landscape, architecture and even language of the isles. Each chapter is themed around one aspect of this impact and relates to a particular theme (locations of worship, architecture, town design, agriculture etc). With some 7,000 years to investigate, this can never be more than a superficial study but it is, nevertheless, never less than interesting.

The structure gives it the feel of an almanac - particularly since each chapter ends in a gazetteer of notable sites.Consequently, it does have a slightly Victorian feel, although every chapter provided me with at least one nugget of real interest. These ranged from the history of pub names to the lost practices of the medieval church still evidenced by the architecture of the modern church.

Those expecting a scholarly work will be disappointed. Not only does the book lack proper footnoting/bibliography (there is a tilt in the direction but by no means comprehensive) it is also structured around a hypothesis which is never really tested. This argues that society and spirituality in Britain has gone through five cycles of emergence and collapse. Each of these cycles is characterised by a spiritual dimension integrated with nature that is ultimately undone by increasingly a monumental structures and the arrogance of man. This results in famine/pestilence etc. The evidence provided is intriguing but by no means robust. As a casual reader without a broader contextual knowledge of megalithic/iron age/Roman Britain, I was not convinced, although the narrative is seductive. There is a clear attempt to link collapse to our current situation but it felt more like a plea than a reasoned analysis.

My biggest concern on picking up this book was that I would be subjected to a diatribe on religion. This was not the case; the author explains something of his own spirituality in the introduction and touches on it again in the summary but for the most part this is a book which tries to treat its subject relatively objectively.

Despite its faults, I found Sacred Land entertaining and informative. It was a book I dipped in and out of over several months whilst reading other things and it never felt jarring to approach it like this. On the whole, I'd describe this as a good springboard into the subject; there's plenty of points that could be picked up for further study here and plenty of conclusions to disagree with.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but contentious, 20 Oct 2013
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This review is from: Sacred Land: Decoding Britain's extraordinary past through its towns, villages and countryside (Paperback)
This is a very good book to have for reference on your shelf and you'll soon start spotting things about places that you wouldn't have done before. The author's viewpoint that you must necessarily be religious to appreciate a place, or that lack of belief has previously sparked the collapse of eras is contestable. However don't let this spoil your enjoyment of an interesting reference book.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars disapointing, 10 Jun 2012
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Anne Wareham "Anne Wareham" (UK Welsh border) - See all my reviews
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Sounded great but is full of very familiar material, rather antiquarian. Lots of references to 'Celts' - which kind of says it all since it's not clear what this is referring to.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Scholarship, 6 Jun 2012
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J Knight (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sacred Land: Decoding Britain's extraordinary past through its towns, villages and countryside (Paperback)
Other than a few brief notes, the book is not furnished with any scholarly information so would not help someone using the book as a gateway to any sustained study.
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4.0 out of 5 stars SACRED ENVIRONMENT, 2 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Sacred Land: Decoding Britain's extraordinary past through its towns, villages and countryside (Paperback)
I found this book quite fascinating and fairly persuasive. One thing seems to have escaped Martin Palmer: Christians have prayed towards the East (not towards Jerusalem, nor towards the sun) from the first century. When I was a 7-year old chorister (not in the 1st century, but back in the 1940s) we always turned towards the Altar (i.e. to the east) to recite the Creed. At Evensong of course our backs were towards the sun. The reason was the same as that for burying us on our backs with feet towards the east: we are expecting the return of Christ on Judgement Day. (Mt 24,27.) It is like facing the engine on a train journey; that's the way the planet is turning!
The disappearance of this credal custom is perhaps another example of what Martin Palmer deplores - a loss of the sense of the sacred in the environment.
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4.0 out of 5 stars very informative, 8 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Sacred Land: Decoding Britain's extraordinary past through its towns, villages and countryside (Paperback)
You end up with insight into the multiple layers of history under which our true roots are buried, and with a great respect for the ability of anglo saxon and celtic ability to adapt and survive the many invasions.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Let your heart be guided, 28 Sep 2013
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Sometime we forget that this land was sacred before St Augustine arrived and ignored the Celtic Church. Occasionally we ignore the sacred lived of the ancient Britons.

We need to enrich our souls by being led to those places which are "thin" - nearer to God.
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0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My wife liked it, I haven't read it yet, 23 Jan 2013
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D. Headey "daveh" (Oxfordshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sacred Land: Decoding Britain's extraordinary past through its towns, villages and countryside (Paperback)
She's a good judge of books, and was impressed with it as a Christmas present. Can't say fairer than that
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1 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't comment as I have not yet read the book, 30 April 2012
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This review is from: Sacred Land: Decoding Britain's extraordinary past through its towns, villages and countryside (Paperback)
I don't feel that I can comment on this book. I only flipped through a few pages when I received it, but as yet have not actually started reading. It looks interesting and I am looking forward to reading it at leisure.
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