Countryside History

The Life and Legacy of Oliver Rackham

  • A unique, far-reaching tribute to the late Professor Oliver Rackham.
  • Wide-ranging contributions from the world’s leading landscape and countryside historians.
  • Offers fresh understandings of the importance of heritage landscapes in the context of climate change and rampant development.
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    • countryside
    • ecosystem
    • farmland
    • habitat
    • habitat management
    • landscape


    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.

    This book, 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 Białowieża 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 acknowledgment 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.

    DOI: 10.53061/PTLZ6584

    Table of Contents

    Foreword by Peter Grubb
    Information on Contributors
    Introduction: An Overview of the work and influences of Oliver Rackham Ian D. Rotherham and Jennifer A. Moody
    DOI: 10.53061/JDWL9754

    1. Concepts of Ancient Woodland George Peterken
    DOI: 10.53061/HADM7492
    2. The Influence of Oliver Rackham in our Understanding of Wooded Landscapes Della Hooke
    DOI: 10.53061/KAFR1092
    3. How the Wildwood Worked: Rackham’s Contribution to Forest Ecology Adrian C. Newton
    DOI: 10.53061/CTHR2729
    4. Stability and Change in Woodland Ground Flora Keith Kirby
    DOI: 10.53061/HARR7482
    5. Echoes of the Wildwood? Investigating the Historical Ecology of some Warwickshire Lime Woodlands 1986–2000 David R. Morfitt
    DOI: 10.53061/YDWO7681

    6. On the Shoulders of Oliver Rackham Frans Vera
    DOI: 10.53061/PHPS7491
    7. Forest History versus Pseudo-History: The Relevance of Oliver Rackham’s Concepts in the Conservation of Białowieza: a Primeval Forest Tomasz Samojlik, Piotr Daszkiewicz and Aurika Ričkienė
    DOI: 10.53061/JELX1549
    8. Old-Growth Forests in the Eastern Alps: Management and Protection Elisabeth Johann
    DOI: 10.53061/ZOMX6997
    9. Biocultural Landscapes of Europe: A Journey with Oliver Rackham Gloria Pungetti
    DOI: 10.53061/WDZI5893

    10. Trees Grow Again: Greece and the Mediterranean in Oliver Rackham’s Publications J. Donald Hughes
    DOI: 10.53061/HYHD2779
    11. Friend or Foe? Oak Agroforestry Systems in the Mediterranean and the Role of Grazing Thanasis Kizos
    DOI: 10.53061/GNCJ6247
    12. The Irreplaceable Trees of Crete Jennifer A. Moody
    DOI: 10.53061/RWNP5374
    13. Walking in Sacred Forests with Oliver Rackham: A Conversation about Relict Landscapes in Epirus, North-West Greece Rigas Tsiakiris, Kalliopi Stara, Valentino Marini Govigli and Jennifer L.G. Wong
    DOI: 10.53061/COCN2417
    14. Historical Ecology and the History of ‘Individual Landscapes’: Oliver Rackham’s Field Visits to Liguria (North-West Italy) Roberta Cevasco, Diego Moreno and Charles Watkins
    DOI: 10.53061/KTIQ6027

    15. Oliver Rackham, Archives and Ancient Woodland Research Melvyn Jones
    DOI: 10.53061/ILKY7287
    16. From Household Equipment to Countryside in Eleventh-Century Bavaria Richard Hoffmann
    DOI: 10.53061/HGRC3840
    17. It’s a Fair Coppice: Methodological Considerations of the History of Woodland Management Péter Szabó
    DOI: 10.53061/QLUX8152
    18. Oliver Rackham and Shadow Woods Ian D. Rotherham
    DOI: 10.53061/ZHEH8716
    19. Oliver Rackham and the Archaeology of Ancient Woods of Norfolk Tom Williamson
    DOI: 10.53061/ZYLE1649

    20. Reflections from the Antipodes Paul Adam
    DOI: 10.53061/XDRB9807
    21. Managing Pollards and the Last Forest Vikki Bengtsson
    DOI: 10.53061/ZPLM6676
    22. The Value and Meaning of Traditional Natural Resource Use Systems in Satoyama Landscapes in Japan Katsue Fukamachi
    DOI: 10.53061/KONR7906
    23. Pollard Beech Trees in Snowy Areas of Japan Tohru Nakashizuka, Hideo Miguchi and Tomohiko Kamitani
    DOI: 10.53061/MASW5073
    24. So Human a Landscape: Oliver Rackham’s Influence on a New England Ecologist Henry W. Art
    DOI: 10.53061/IGHM6239

    25. Conclusions: The Legacy of Oliver Rackham Jennifer A. Moody and Ian D. Rotherham
    DOI: 10.53061/ETMV8679
    An Oliver Rackham Bibliography


    • Iconoclastic, Indomitable, Indefatigable, above all Investigatory – Oliver Rackham had all these “Is” in spades! This book is a genuine homage to him, in a clear, yet not uncritical, way from scholars around the world who came to know and work with him. Perhaps Rackham’s greatest achievement was in changing the way scholars thought about landscape and history, and if you are not familiar with his work, you should become so – and this book is the best way to get acquainted!
      —Peter Bridgewater, Chair, UK Joint Nature Conservation Committee 2007-2014
    • Oliver Rackham’s writing opened my eyes to a new world, as it did for so many others. It provided the tools to read the countryside and made us appreciate the deep history of the landscape. In this insightful book, an international team of authors look at a galaxy of problems, showing how Rackham’s insights repeatedly improved understanding of history, ecology and conservation. Read it and have your eyes opened.
      —William Sutherland, Department of Zoology and St Catharine’s College, University of Cambridge
    • This magnificent collection celebrates Rackham's many achievements and underscores how his seminal work laid the foundations of what we now understand as environmental history. Here, in this superb gathering of scholars who are field-leaders in their own right, we see the living legacy of Rackham's impact internationally and the proof of his wonderful ability to engage and enthuse readers.
      —Richard Oram, Professor of Medieval and Environmental History, University of Stirling

    About the Author

    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 A. Moody is an Aegean archaeologist at the University of Texas, Austin, specializing in landscape and paleo-climate reconstruction and ceramic fabric analysis. She is an advocate for landscape conservation and the preservation of cultural heritage in Greece and elsewhere. She was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, the so-called genius grant, for her research on the intersection of changes in climate, culture and landscape on the island of Crete, Greece. She has directed four archaeological surveys on the island and consulted for many more. She has worked on Crete for over 40 years, and collaborated there with Oliver Rackham for 32 years. She and Oliver Rackham co-authored The Making of the Cretan Landscape, for which they won the Runciman prize.

    Bibliographic Information

    • 438 pages
    • 150 colour photos, 10 b&w photos, 31 maps, 21 diagrams
    • BISAC SCI011000, SOC026020, NAT000000, SCI020000