Re: Re: British History Books (fiction)

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#17623

anonymous
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I also read Edward Rutherford's “London”, “Sarum” and “The Forest” and thought they were marvelous. I have gone on holiday to the New Forest (the area in “The Forest” most summers since I was a kid and we went camping there more years ago than I care to disclose. The New Forest is in Hampshire, between Southampton and Bournmouth on the South Coast of England and it's beautiful and very old, codified by William the Conquerer around 1000 years ago as his personal Royal hunting ground but going back even beyond that relatively unchanged. The New Forest has a ready supply of flint everywhere (just look around your feet if you're not on a paved road and you'll see flint within 10 feet of where you are standing), so it must have been a paradise for stone age peoples. We buried our childhood dog in the side of an ancient burial mound on the heathland there, in amongst the flint and rabbit holes and ghosts of long forgotten warriors. Or at least, that's what my mum said the hill was, it's possible she was just stoking my interest in ancient British history with her lively imagination.I guess it worked. Incidentally Edward Rutherfurd has also written books based on other cities in other countries too. He takes a place and follows it's people from very early history through the centuries, in a very thoughtful and compelling way. Taking history and making it about people, showing how the culture and geography of the place they live in affects their psyche and their lives.The New Forest is an interesting place to understand British history from as it's rules and way of life today harken back to how common people lived centuries ago. Commoners grazing rights meaning some people can turn their animals (horses, cows, donkeys, pigs) loose to roam free over the entire area (which is about 150 square miles of heath and forest land fenced in with cattle grids across every exit road to keep the animals in), annual livestock roundups, pony sales, small villages with thriving local craft artisans, Forest Verderers who look after the land and hold Agister's courts to sort out disputes about local issues. As well as grazing rights, there are also some rights to mast (meaning to turn your pigs out on the land in Autumn to eat Haycorns) and to collect firewood and turf. I could be wrong, but I believe these rights come with certain cottages in the New Forest, although they might be passed down in families, I'm not sure, they are written down in "the Atlas".

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