This is a history of the moorlands and the part they have played in English and Welsh history over ten millennia. Ian Simmons combines the perspectives of natural science, archaeology, social history and historical geography, and draws on forty years of exploring and studying the moorlands. Starting with a description of their origins and how they have changed under the impact of human and natural forces, Simmons shows how perceptions of the moors have been influenced by writers, artists and the media (and how they have been inspired by the moors), and how these perceptions have resulted in great changes in attitudes to moorland use and management. The book begins by offering some concise understanding of the physical and natural characteristics of moorlands. It then gives an account of how hunter-gatherers of the Mesolithic period altered their surroundings using fire. It describes how millennia of agricultural production wrought distinctive moorland landscapes and how these in turn were affected and sometimes transformed by industrialisation, afforestation and changes in farming methods.The renewed impetus in the twentieth century for environmental management and conservation brings the story near to the present.
The North Pennines, Dartmoor and South Wales are the subject of detailed accounts that reveal the common characteristics of the moorlands as well as their marked contrasts. Beyond the recent crises of overgrazing and the 2001 foot and mouth outbreak, Ian Simmons lays out some possible futures for the moors.
Ian G Simmons retired in 2001 from his position as Emeritus Professor of Geography at the University of Durham. He is a Fellow of the British Academy, and the author of many books including The Ecology of Natural Resources(Arnold 1973), Environmental History: An Introduction (Blackwell 1994), Changing the Face of the Earth (second edn, Blackwell 1996), and Humanity and Environment (Longman 1997). He received the Victoria Medal of the Royal Geographical Society in 1998.