Hidden Histories: A Spotter's Guide to the British Landscape

Hidden Histories: A Spotter's Guide to the British Landscape

by Mary-Ann Ochota


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'A definitive classic field guide [...] Its scope is as magnificent as our countryside itself.'
BBC Countryfile Magazine

'This book is perfect for anyone who’s travelled through the countryside, scratched their head, and thought, ‘what on earth is that thing?'' 
Tony Robinson

Have you ever driven past a lumpy, bumpy field and wondered what made the lumps and bumps? Or walked between two lines of grand trees and wondered when and why they were planted? Entertaining and factually rigorous, Hidden Histories has the answers and will help you decipher the story of Britain's landscape through the features you can see around you.

In this spotter’s guide, Mary-Ann Ochota arms amateur explorers with the crucial information needed to understand the landscape and spot the human activities that have shaped our green and pleasant land.

  • Photographs and diagrams point out specific details and typical examples to help the curious spotter understand what they’re looking at, or looking for.
  • Specially commissioned illustrations bring to life the processes that shaped the landscape (from medieval ploughing to Roman road building).
  • Stand-alone capsules explore interesting aspects of history (like the Highland Clearances or the coming of Christianity).
  • Feature boxes provide definitions of jargon or handy references as required (like a glossary of what different field names mean).
  • Each chapter culminates in a checklist of key details to look for, other things it might be, and gives details of where to find some of the best examples in Britain.

From lumps and bumps to stones, lines and villages, Hidden Histories is the must-have spotter’s guide to the British landscape.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780711236936
Publisher: Frances Lincoln Adult
Publication date: 04/05/2018
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 6.95(w) x 8.75(h) x 1.05(d)

About the Author

Mary-Ann Ochota is a broadcaster and anthropologist who gained her MA from Emmanuel College, Cambridge University in 2002. She is a reporter on Channel 4's Unreported World documentary strand, has presented on Time Team, and also programmes on ITV (including on Britain's Secret Treasures, for which she wrote the tie-in book), BBC4, BBC3, Discovery, Animal Planet and is a regular guest on Sky News newspaper review. She has written for the Daily Telegraph, Independent, Sun and the Mirror and has contributed to adventure and outdoors magazines in South Africa, USA and the UK, including Getaway, Women's Adventure and Countryfile Magazine.

Table of Contents

Introduction 6

How to be a Landscape Spotter 7

Why do Things Get Buried? 10

Reading Grid References 11

Lumps and Bumps 12

Is that an Ancient Tomb? 14

What is a Tumulus? 24

Where are the Other Prehistoric Bodies? 30

What does a Hillfort Look Like? 31

Mystery Enclosures 40

Conical Hill? Could be a Castle 42

Moots and Things: Law-making on Mounds 47

Why Does this Field Have Rows of Ridges? 48

Field Names 55

Who Made that Hole? 56

Stones 64

Is this an Ancient Standing Stone? 66

How Do Stone Circles Work? 74

Stone Alignments 88

Is that Ancient Rock Art? 91

Symbol Stones 96

Stone Crosses 97

Stone Writing 104

Prehistoric Stone Strongholds 106

Is this an Ancient Stone Tool? 107

Fieldwalking, Mudlarking and Beachcombing 111

Lines 112

It's Straight, but is it Roman? 114

Is this an Ancient Trackway? 121

Highways and Byways 130

Milestones and Markers 138

Linear Earthworks 142

The Shapes of Fields 146

Enclosures and Improvements 148

How Old is this Hedge? 152

How Old is this Dry Stone Wall? 156

What Was Taken Across this Bridge? 166

How Peat Made the Norfolk Broads 172

Why is there a White Horse on this Hillside? 174

How Do I Spot an Ancient Woodland? 178

Woody Placenames 181

Ancient Trees 182

Royal and Noble Estates 186

In The Village 188

How Old is this Village? 190

Placenames 200

The Hidden Histories of Pub Names 202

The Village Green 204

How to Read a Cottage 206

Walls, Windows and Roofs 216

Special Homes 225

What was Kept in There? 232

Who Can Graze Animals on this Common? 238

What Does a Deserted Plague Village Look Like? 244

How Old is this Church? 250

Anglo-Saxon 254

Norman 256

Gothic 260

Hermit Cells 264

Later Churches 265

Marking in Churches 268

Things in Graveyards 270

Index of Places 280

Index 282

Picture credits 286

Acknowledgements 288

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