Any author, celebrity notwithstanding, trying to produce a new panorama of the landscape of these isles faces a major problem as they set to work: the bibliographical prospect is already crowded with other fine books on the same subject. The origins of the genre are routinely traced back to W G Hoskins’s The Making of the English Landscape (1955), while the late, great Oliver Rackham’s The History of the Countryside (1986) embodies a combination of learning, lore and fieldwork the likes of which we will not see again. In the case of Nicholas Crane’s new book, The Making of the British Landscape, the very title has been used already this decade in an authoritative and engaging work by Francis Pryor. In this context, does Crane craft a new, distinct approach to this well-trodden ground?
The answer must be a qualified ‘yes’. Crane’s book works hard to be a wide survey offering a balanced treatment of landscape change from the end of the last glacial epoch right down to the present day. On account of its ambitious scope, it is already distinct from