Showing posts from January, 2023

Psycho's Geography : With Vitriol

  There is a continuum that runs through town guides; from tourist puffery, through the closely observed and fanciful perceptions of the pyschogeographers, to…(Link)……. Do you have an overload of bile that needs to be dumped somewhere? Ilivehere is the dump. It sucks in advertisers and attracts eyeballs by letting locals vent. Even though they are frequently misogynistic and snotty and their grammar and spelling are often as bad as mine, they sometimes sport a lovely turn of phrase.  I have left all of it, and the  shower of asterisks,  in the extracts here.  Douglas Think of 1950s East Berlin crossed with North Korea. The principal economic activity is selling over priced coffee to lazy people who can’t work a kettle. Sometimes when the weather is nice, a ferry runs. People have to sell their children to afford the fares. When they’re sick, people try to avoid going to the Hospital which is run by a Farmer. Lowestoft …..couldn’t even believe they had a coffee s

10 : From Britons to Saxons

  West Stow. A Recreation of a Saxon village. This post  will  (I hope)  complete my effort to track the population of this sceptred isle. In future posts, I will turn back to the evolution of the landscape through the Middle Ages and beyond. These are the Dark Ages, so-called not because they were particularly gloomy, but because we don't much about them, filling the gaps by superimposing our current notions on how things are organized around kings, nations and regular armies. The reality was almost certainly more chaotic.  It  might be better to think of early England as being a bit like the Congo with weak or non-existent central control, quite tribal with strong family loyalties, informal invasions, lots of refugees and the odd wandering, plundering warlord. It all started with what appears to have been the takeover of much of this part of the country by a consortium of tribes whose business plan was international expansion.  Procopius, a historian in the embers of the Roman Em

9 : Bronze and Iron

The last post saw the rise and fall of the last of the neolithic populations of England. In the same way as they had replaced the earlier population, they in turn were replaced by lighter-skinned settlers originating from the Caucasian Steppe; people who used bronze tools and kept horses and cattle. The  changes on the ground were gradual but eventually profound, and the  region might have got its first blond, as well as one of the earliest flavours of the Indo-European group of languages which predominates today.  One of their villages has been unearthed in Norfolk and tells us a lot about them. See (Link)  Must Farm   I am not inclined to do a cycle tour thereabouts because while today's landscape is just too dull, but i f you are interested in pre-history you could also check out (Link)  Flag Fen where there is an exhibition of what has been found.  These people added the Sarsens to the already ancient monuments at Stonehenge, the King's Men to the Rollright Stones and, late

Deep Past 8 : Enter the Flintstones

  In the last post, I covered the arrival of people from the start to the time at which the hunter gatherers seem to have been elbowed out of the picture. For you lovers of jargon, that is is the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic periods.  I tend to believe everything from Hollywood so m y take on it is a simple progression from Raquel Welch, in her fetching furs in the film 'One Million Years B.C', to the urban stone age sophistication of the Flintstones.  These 'Neolithic' incomers were our first farmers. They took their time getting here; farming is thought to have originated in the East some 6000 years earlier and edged in our direction at less than a mile a year. Farming can support more people than hunter-gathering, so the head count grew rapidly. W hile their predecessors adjusted their lives to survive in the landscape they found, the newcomers more effort into shaping it to suit their needs. T his was the start of the clearance of the original and extensive wildwoods

Deep Past 7 : Meet the P(re)eople

  I have avoided the human story in the blog so far because there wasn't one  until around a million years ago. The visible impact of our species of  homo, who we laughingly call sapiens, has only been recent. Notwithstanding,  I want to tip my cap to our predecessors, to  avoid the implication that one day around 5000 years ago and got to work doing a bit of landscape gardening and monument building,   Summary first, then a tad more detail for the interested.   Britain was still very much connected to Europe when early human hunter-gatherers arrived some 900,000 years ago. It wasn't a permanent stay; the country was virtually uninhabitable for long periods in the ice-ages. During the warmer breaks the ice melted, the sea levels rose and those connections to Europe shrank.  Neanderthals appeared around 400,000 years ago. They are an under-rated lot who had fire and probably some language and who came and went until roughly 20,000 years ago when our species turned up and then di