Historic landscapes

Authored by: Jonathan Finch

The Routledge Companion to Landscape Studies

Print publication date:  December  2012
Online publication date:  February  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415684606
eBook ISBN: 9780203096925
Adobe ISBN: 9781136220609


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The study of the historic landscape has a diverse and rich heritage within a number of cognate disciplines across the social sciences and humanities. Attempts to define the historic landscape as an academic commodity have, mercifully, proved notoriously difficult, preserving its multi- and inter-disciplinary appeal. Historic landscape studies can, however, be broadly characterized as sharing a central concern with ‘how people in the past conceptualized, organized, and manipulated their environments and the ways that those places have shaped their occupants’ behaviors and identities’ (Branton 2009: 51). As such, the inter-relationships between place and human activity are clearly important, yet the landscape is not limited to being the passive, neutral, setting for human activity, nor should it be seen as merely another form of artefact, created by human activity, instead it encompasses material, cognitive and symbolic realizations of human-environmental relationships.

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