As the glaciers of the last Ice Age receded, Scotland's earliest ancestors ventured northwards, exploring a wild, fertile territory. Nomadic hunter-gatherers at first, they made the decision to stay for good – to farm and to build. From that moment on, people began to write their story firmly into the fabric of the landscape.
Our landscapes are a product of human invention and intervention. The first farmers, who began to clear homesteads from the ‘wild woods’, saw landscapes of rich, fertile soil. The societies who created some of our earliest architecture – massive stone tombs and circles built in alignment with the sun, moon and stars – saw the landscape as a bridge to an afterlife.
Millennia later, the philosophers of the Enlightenment judged the landscape as a resource to be changed and ‘improved’ for the sake of progress and productivity. The artists, poets and writers of the late eighteenth century pictured the landscape as the setting for poignant history and sublime romance. And the engineers of the Victorian era took the landscape on as a challenge – terrain to be bridged, tunneled and crossed, as a symbol of man’s all-conquering ingenuity.
In RCAHMS new book 'Scotland's Landscapes', author James Crawford tells the fascinating histories of how Scotland’s places came to be. Through stunning new aerial photography, unique tales emerge of communities, their landscapes and their architecture.
All the images in this gallery come from 'Scotland's Landscapes: The National Collection of Aerial Photography' (RRP £25). This lavishly illustrated, 224-page book, brings together some of the finest and most recent photographs taken by the RCAHMS dedicated aerial survey team.
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