Books : reviews

Maurice Beresford.
History on the Ground: revised edn.
Sutton Publishing. 1998

Maurice Beresford is one of the pioneers of local history fieldwork, and his work includes studies of towns and villages as well as the more traditional landscape studies. In this classic book, he opens up the hidden world of urban, local and landscape history through the imaginative use of old maps and other documentary evidence.

In these six studies documentary evidence is brought to bear on particular fields, particular villages and particular towns. By examining the work of sixteenth and seventeenth century cartographers we can glimpse not only the landscape of the Tudors and Stuarts but also the far older landscape which had not then been completely effaced. From the limited number of surviving plans we can recognise the historical structure of certain landscapes and then apply this knowledge to the much greater numbers of towns and villages for which no such documentary evidence exists. It is an exciting and practical introduction to understanding townscapes and landscapes, written by a great local historian and innovator who has the gift of bringing alive both documents and landscape. Illustrated throughout with maps, plans and photographs, it is a book which all those interested in local, urban and landscape history will enjoy.