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.
Countryside History, 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 acknowledgement 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.
Ian D. Rotherham is Emeritus Professor at the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK. He is an authority on landscape history and particularly on the history, heritage and ecology of woodlands and peatlands. He has published widely, including over 500 academic research papers, around 50 books and many hundreds of popular articles. He is co-editor (with Alper H. Çolak and Simay Kirca) of Ancient Woods, Trees and Forests: Ecology, History and Management.
Jennifer Moody is an archaeologist of the Aegean, specializing in ceramic fabric analysis and landscape and paleo-climate reconstruction. She has worked on the island of Crete for over 40 years, where she has directed four archaeological surveys and consulted for many more, both on Crete and elsewhere in Greece. She is an advocate for landscape conservation and preservation of cultural heritage in Greece and elsewhere. In 1989 she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, the so-called genius grant, for her research. From 1991 to 2001 she was Visiting Professor and Senior lecturer in Anthropology at Baylor University and since 2006 has been a Research Fellow in Classics at the University of Texas at Austin. In 1996 she and Oliver Rackham co-authored The Making of the Cretan Landscape, for which they won the Runciman prize.