Like one of the ancient trees he wrote about so elegantly and perceptively, Oliver Rackham’s roots run deep while his influence branches far. He was undoubtedly the leading scholar in landscape history and historical ecology, and his work continues to resonate not just with his peers but with a much wider public audience too. His combination of extensive archival research, meticulous fieldwork and place-name analysis were truly ground-breaking.
He not only changed the way we think about the landscape; he in fact altered that landscape in turn – enriching, clarifying, bringing it to life. This book, which honours Rackham’s memory, is a unique collection of contributions from leading global authorities on countryside and landscape history. A number of chapters come from individuals who were his friends and collaborators, and they each share a debt to his scholarship and methods.
Ranging all over Europe from Bialowieza Forest in Poland to the Mediterranean, and across the world from New England to northern Japan, the wealth of perspectives gathered here makes for a diverse and weighty discussion. Collectively, the contributions represent an acknowledgment of Rackham’s huge impact and influence at the same time as offering a benchmark for current thinking in countryside history worldwide. This volume will appeal to researchers, postgraduate students, final-year undergraduates, lecturers and scholars on the one hand, but also to anyone who loves the countryside and is fascinated by its complex history.
As we lose irreplaceable heritage landscapes to climate change and development, an understanding of what they are and what they mean only becomes more vital.