Britain's landscape is scarred with haunting and romantic remains; these shadowlands that were once filled with life are now just spectral echoes. Peering through the cracks of history, we find Dunwich, a medieval city plunged off a Suffolk cliff by sea storms; the lost city of Trellech unearthed by moles in the Welsh Marches; and the ghostly reservoir that is Capel Celyn, one of the few remaining solely Welsh-speaking villages, drowned by Liverpool City Council.
Historian Matthew Green tells the extraordinary stories of how these places met their fate and probes the disappearances to explain why Britain looks the way it does today. Travelling across Britain, Green transports the reader to these places as they teeter on the brink of oblivion, vividly capturing the sounds of the sea clawing away row upon row of houses, the taste of medieval wine, or the sights of puffin hunting on the tallest cliffs in the country. We experience them in their prime, look on at their destruction and revisit their lingering remains later as they are mourned by evictees and reimagined by artists, writers and mavericks.
By exploring the lost causes and dead ends of history – places lost to natural phenomena, war and plague, economic shifts and technological progress – the precariousness of our own towns and cities, of humanity, becomes clear. Shadowlands is a deeply evocative and dazzlingly original account of Britain's past.
Dr Matthew Green is a historian, writer, and broadcaster with a doctorate from Oxford University. He has appeared in documentaries on the BBC, ITV and Channel 4, and has written historical features for the Telegraph and Guardian. He is the co-founder of Unreal City Audio, which produces immersive tours of London as live events, audio downloads and apps. His first book was London: A Travel Guide Through Time.
"A beautiful book, truly original [...] It is a marvellous achievement."
– Ian Mortimer, author of The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England
"Well researched, beautifully written and packed with interesting detail."
– Claire Tomalin
"An exquisitely written, moving and elegiac exploration."
– Suzannah Lipscomb
"Consistently interesting [...] Green's passion and historical vision bursts from the page, summoning up the past in surround sound and sensual prose."
– Cal Flyn, The Times, author of Islands of Abandonment
"An eloquent tour of lost communities."
– PD Smith, Guardian
"A haunting, lyrical tour around the lost places of Britain."
– Charlotte Higgins, author of Under Another Sky
"A miraculous work of resurrection, stinging in a perpetual present"
– Iain Sinclair, author of The Gold Machine
– Sunday Times
– Financial Times
– The Herald
– History Today
– The Spectator
– Daily Mail
– Caught by the River