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Geoscientist Online

Geobritannica

gdulThe authors state that this book “… attempts to put the geological history, landscapes and materials of Britain … into historic, societal and artistic concepts.”  They trace its ‘ancestry’ back to A E Trueman’s Geology and scenery of England and Wales, W G Hoskins’s The making of the English landscape and Jacquetta Hawkes’s A land, books that a certain generation of reader will recognise as ‘classics’.  We have waited a long time for a reputable heir! 

Early chapters introduce readers to basic geology and the history of geology together with its influence on art and literature and the use of rock in people’s lives, especially as building stone.  There is a chapter on palaeogeography with simplified maps which is particularly useful, explaining the concept of plate tectonics and placing Great Britain in context during each geological era

In the final section of the book entitled ‘GeoRegions’, Great Britain is divided into 17 areas with a chapter devoted to each.  Simplified geological and topographical maps are placed adjacent to each other at the beginning of each chapter to set the scene, making comparison easy, before the geology, culture and art is discussed.  Without doubt the section readers will turn to first.

It is beautifully illustrated throughout with clear captions and acknowledgment of sources.  The paintings shown are very often familiar but the book makes one look at them from a different perspective.  It is worth possessing a copy of the book for these alone!

There is a very useful glossary and bibliography at the end of the volume, my only criticism being that the bibliography, split into the three corresponding sections of the book, does not repeat the Chapter numbers contained in those sections.  It would have made finding references much easier, but it is a minor niggle, easily solved by annotating one’s personal copy!

The book has been written to appeal to the ‘interested amateur’.  This it does admirably, but I am sure a professional geologist will find it equally rewarding to read.   Copies are available for sale in the Society’s Bookshop (online and in Burlington House) at a discounted price of £22.49 for Fellows. 

Reviewed by Wendy Cawthorne

GEOBRITANNICA: GEOLOGICAL LANDSCAPES AND THE BRITISH PEOPLES BY MIKE LEEDER & JOY LAWLOR, 2016 Published by: Dunedin Press xiv, 281pp (hbk) ISBN 9781780460604 List Price: £24.99. W: http://www.dunedinacademicpress.co.uk/page/detail/GeoBritannica/?K=e2015040315443911