On and off, maybe, but I’ve been writing about ‘heritage’ and the presentation of history within Britain since the early nineteen eighties. The articles gathered here were written over decades that saw historical conservation become a major theme and, for better or worse, an issue over which wider battles were fought.
Looking north from Brough Castle, 3 September 2007
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Open this book at random and you might imagine it to be another example of the new nature writing. Dillon makes generous concessions to the genre, and not just in his description of the explosive ripples caused by a darting insect known as the pond-skater (helpfully identified as Gerris lacustri). Yet a stricter naturalist may still wonder when he lists so general a creature as “the woodpecker” among the birds to be found at the watery woodside to which he has brought us. Who is this unexpected guide, standing there with his old three-speed bicycle and an equally archaic Rolleiflex camera in his hand? …
Publication of the first images of the set for Danny Boyle’s opening extravaganza for the Olympics prompted me to write this article for Our Kingdom, published on 22 June 2012.
This article, co-written with Stephen Daniels, Patrick Keiller, Doreen Massey and Anderew Flintham, describes a collaborative project conducted under the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s “Landscape and Environment” programme. It was published in Tate Papers 17 on 11 May 2012. The main outcome was Keiller’s film “Robinson in Ruins”. For more information see here…
Art historian, wild mushroom hunter, curator, bee-keeper, independent film-maker – a few otherwise lost words about Timothy Neat: »October 22nd, 2011 | Posted in: Articles General, Englishness and British national identity, Heritage & History, Music
I spent part of last summer writing a long review of Timothy Neat’s two volume biography of Hamish Henderson, the poet and campaigner who made such a profound contribution to the Scottish folk revival in the 1950s and 1960s. The review appears in the London Review of Books, issue dated 3 November 2011.
The final version of this conversation with Jeremy Davies is published as ‘Just start digging: Memory and the framing of heritage’ in a special issue of Memory Studies entitled ‘Nostalgia and the Shapes of History’, edited by Nadia Atia & Jeremy Davies (3:3, July 2010, 196-203).
I can’t be entirely sure when this was recorded, but my diary suggests it was on 8 February 2008…
‘I know the Muse of History is a sycophantish partisan; a pretentious, often ignorant humbug. She dotes on Satan, cloaking in exemplary denunciations what psychiatry might call a sadistic taste for works of his which only dirty the memory and spread retaliative infection to the feelings…’ Vernon Lee, writing at the end of 1918.
‘Television producers sometimes speak of the ‘golden hour’ – that time in the late afternoon, when the sinking sun casts even routine landscapes into brilliant relief. But the early twentieth century photographers who interest Hauser had a different interest in such tricks of the light…’
About Kitty Hauser’s book Shadow Sites: Photography, Archaeology & the British Landscape 1927-1955, Oxford University Press, £65. This is the ‘pre-print version of a review published in the journal Twentieth Century British History.
A note on Agatha Christie’s novel, At Bertram’s Hotel.
Some reflections on history and heritage in East London and the Thames estuary. I refer to ‘Millennium Mills’, an old flour mill standing opposite the Millennium Dome, and the Richard Montgomery, a sunken US Liberty ship loaded with explosives that lies not far offshore from Sheerness – whence it was memorably described by the resident German novelist Uwe Johnson.