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GeoBritannica: Geological landscapes and the British peoples

Mike Leeder, Joy Lawlor

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Product Details
24 Nov 2016
Dunedin Academic Press
296 pages - 200 x 260 x 20mm
GeoBritannica concerns the geological legacy of Britain, an inheritance bequeathed by its bedrock to the peoples who have lived on the island for the eleven millennia since the final spasms of the last Ice Ages. The authors explain the geological diversity of the landscape and the raw materials that it provides. They show how these materials have been utilised by society and by individuals in creative acts of the imagination. The reader will discover how regional environments and resources have enabled and inspired endeavours as diverse as planning, mining, quarrying, architecture, literature and the visual arts. The authors provide a modern interpretation of the geological history of Britain and place this in its historic, social and artistic contexts. Why is geology so fascinating to us? How do geologists do their science? Why are the differing landscapes what, where and how they are? What is the nature of the geological foundations of the British landscapes? How have geological discoveries developed our understanding of the landscape of Britain over the past two hundred years? What is the geological context of the raw materials used in past and present industries and for historic and vernacular buildings? How have geological landscapes and materials influenced past and present architects, visual artists and writers? This is a book for those wanting to develop a better understanding of Britain and to develop their love and understanding of the island which we inhabit.
Acknowledgements. Preface. Forewords. Author Statements. Part 1 ‘the Little Space of this our Island’: 1. Introduction; 2. Affection for Things Geological; 3. Early Discoveries; 4. Works of the Imagination. Part 2 Assembling the Geological Jigsaw: 5. Mapping; 6. ‘Deep Time’ and the ‘Mobile Earth’; Part 3 Remembrance of Things Past: 7. Past Geography and Geological History. Part 4 Material GeoBritannica: 8. Settlement and Communication; 9. Natural Resources – General; 10. Building Stone and Aggregates. Part5 Mineral GeoBritannica: 11. Metals and Mineral Salts; 12. Coal, Peat and Oil. Part 6: ‘To show to the world what exists in nature’: 13. Architecture and Monuments; 14. Sculpture; 15. Painting; 16. Literature. Part 7 GeoRegions: 17. Introduction; 18. Assynt Foreland and Outer Hebrides; 19. North West Highlands and Northern Islands; 20. Grampian Highlands and Argyll; 21. Midland Valley; 22. Formerly Volcanic Islands of the Inner Hebrides; 23. Southern Uplands and Galloway; 24. Scottish-English Borderlands; 25. Lakeland, its Surrounds and the Isle of Man; 26. North Pennines; 27. South Pennines; 28. English Midlands; 29. Welsh–English Borderlands; 30. Northern Wales; 31. Southern Wales; 32. South West England; 33. Southern England; 34. Eastern and Central Scarplands. Glossary. Bibliography and Further Reading. Index
Mike Leeder attended Diss Grammar and the City of Norwich schools, graduating from Durham in geology and subsequently earning a PhD at Reading. He was on the faculty at the Universities of Leeds and East Anglia and is now Emeritus Professor. He is a medallist of the Geological Society of London and the Yorkshire Geological Society. He currently lives and writes alternately in West Cork and South Norfolk. Joy Lawlor attended Hinckley Grammar School, trained as an art teacher at Bath, taught at secondary schools in central Liverpool and graduated in English Literature at its University. She subsequently moved to West Cork, raised three children and became an award-winning art teacher. Since retiring she has gained an MA in art therapy and continues to paint, garden and write enthusiastically.

‘The 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!
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.’
Geoscientist Online Reviews

'The book is marvellous. The quality of the photos, maps and diagrams is outstanding, and I really love the constant admixture of geology, landscape, materials and cultural history. The book has an excellent hard cover, and the result is a remarkable synthesis covering Britain in a way that is really full of insight.'
Dr Peter Friend in Trilobite, Friends of the Sedgwick Museum, Cambridge

‘With the widespread recognition of the Anthropocene, the ‘Age of Man’, the role of human systems in the shaping of the physical, social and cultural landscape has increased in resonance. Researchers have not been slow to recognise the importance of this change in outlook, with a new-found interest in linking Earth and Human System models. Investigations of the linkages tend, at present, to be focussed on a better appreciation of the risks to economic and social systems of the workings of the Earth system, including the management of changes in land use and biodiversity as well as the more dramatic impacts of volcanic eruptions, earthquake activity, major floods and other extreme meteorological events. Understanding these risks has taken on added urgency in a world known to be undergoing planetary warming. Less emphasis is placed on the role of the landscape’s geological foundations in our cultural heritage. It is therefore refreshing to see Mike Leeder and Joy Lawlor’s vibrantly written and beautifully illustrated account of how Britain’s geological history, landscapes and natural materials can be placed into historic, societal and artistic contexts… GeoBritannica is a charming read, especially if you are interested in the many linkages between geology, scenery and culture. It is a springboard for the realisation of previously neglected connections, for sparking hitherto unasked questions and for marvelling anew at the richness of this ‘fortress built by nature’, this “sceptred isle”.’
For the full review see http://earth-literally.blogspot.co.uk/2017/10/geology-scenery-and-culture-in-britain.html

‘This book is the result of a marriage of two very different talents in the form of retired academic geologist Mike Leeder and Joy Lawlor who is an accomplished art teacher and art therapist. Together, they bring their respective talents and interests to bear on our diversity of landscapes. What is unique about this book is how their different approaches combine to present a clear Jove and appreciation of the landscape of Britain. These contrasting styles and approaches is nowhere better reflected than in the choice of illustrations. What other geological book would feature a sign proclaiming 'muddy boots welcome' or a Victorian sketch of Henry de la Beche at a rock face wearing a top hat and wielding a geological hammer! Yes, this book is very different, but is all the more endearing for it. It's arranged in seven parts; the little space of this our island, assembling the geological jigsaw. remembrance of things past, material GeoBritannica, mineral GeoBritannica. to show the world what exists in nature and GeoRegions. Within these various parts there hides some absolute gems. There are insights into the history of our subject, how people have utilized rocks and minerals for economic and industrial purposes and also for creative and artistic purposes. The final part examines many parts of the British Isles in a brief but stimulating way. I have nothing but regard for people who can present the geology of Northwest Scotland in a mere six pages and yet still excite me and make me want to go to see it for myself. This is a book for anyone wanting to understand Britain better and to develop their own love for the landscape. Everyone I know who has bought this book says that it's very difficult to put down. Every page engages the reader and tells a story. What's so amazing is that it tells so many stories about so many different subjects. Geology and landscape are the canvas on which the story is painted. Whatever your knowledge of the geology of the British Isles this is a book for you to enjoy.’
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