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The Peak District: Landscapes Through Time (Landscapes of Britain) Paperback – 1 Dec 2004
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The book explores the Peak's prehistoric sacred landscapes; we learn how the builders of the great henge at Arbor Low may have viewed the world. It also covers the dramatic impact on the land over the centuries of farmers, miners and quarrymen. As well as new interpretative maps (of, for instance, Chatsworth Park), this edition also includes an updated gazetteer of sites and a comprehensive bibliography. It is an indispensable guide to the area's archaeology.
From the Publisher
John Barnatt has worked in the Peak District for five decades, as a survey archaeologist for the National Park since 1989, carrying out survey, excavation and assessment reports of many monuments and other sites here. One of his long-standing passions has been reaching understandings of the region’s prehistory.See all Product description
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There is the usual disadvantage of many walking books - its not designed for taking with you. Some companies, like Cicerone, realise that a book needs to be put in a map case so will be A5 size and able to open flat. Whilst it will open flat, it is not A5 size and it is best to photocopy the route as the book is a little cumbersome. But that aside, a worthy addition to any walking shelf.
Please beware that a number of reviews posted here concern a completely different book.
The book contains an introduction and twelve chronological chapters. There are seventy-four figures, all fully-captioned and referenced to their text. These comprise maps, archaeological plans, and monochrome photographs. In addition, there are seventeen excellent colour plates. But for a book about landscape, I was surprised to find little or no mention of place-name evidence, nor a map of parish boundaries. Another failing of this study is a lack of stated geographical parameters. There is no definition given of the area under study. Is it the border of the National Park? Is it the border of the limestone plateau and millstone grit? For example, does it include Leek in Staffordshire or Bradfield in Yorkshire?
In their introduction, the authors state that their aim is "to give a brief introduction to the archaeology of the Peak District from the earliest people to the modern era." They intend to concentrate on themes that have shaped the region's character. By and large this is done through a broad chronological framework, and one theme that is repeatedly made plain is the differentiation in landscape developments between the three broad divisions of the Peak District, namely the limestone plateau, the gritstone, and the valleys inbetween.
As expected, the descriptions of the prehistoric eras are replete with `maybes', `perhapses', and `possiblys', arising from the lack of evidence or the inability at present to interpret it well. This is rightly stressed in the text and yet there are also some statements made without supporting evidence, such as "Hillforts were frequently larger and more heavily defensive than practicality demanded ... [They were] the nuclear deterrents of the Iron Age." For those wanting to know how much of the book chronicles the prehistoric eras, the Romans arrive on page forty-six of its 138 pages of main text.
The book ends with some good suggestions about sites to visit. There is also an extensive bibliography, which I will make use of, and an index. Overall, then, a book of use rather than of pleasure.
Go read and then explore.