Robert J Mayhew

Mapping the Past

The Making of the British Landscape: From the Ice Age to the Present

By Nicholas Crane

Weidenfeld & Nicolson 579pp £20 order from our bookshop

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?

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