Growing up in Lancaster and around Morecambe Bay, the Lakes and the Dales my backyard, I early on developed a particular interest in archaeology, ruins and urban landscape, though I didn’t call it landscape in those days. Today I’m equally at home with the rural landscape as with the landscape of a town or city.
At University (Nottingham) I studied History & Archaeology, and started to research Roman urbanisation in Western Gaul, but in the mid ‘70s I stepped into heritage management, as an archaeologist in the government ‘Inspectorate’ of ancient monuments, which grew up to become English Heritage. There I stayed for 35 years, enjoying a wide a variety of jobs and travelling comprehensively around England, leading me to know a little about almost every part of the country; ‘my’ landscape is everywhere, defined by movement.
From about 1990 my interests, like those of many archaeologists, drew away from archaeological sites to the whole landscape. Hoskins – but also Conzen and later Rackham – had planted the seeds long before, but they germinated with the realisation that ‘heritage’ policy needed to join hands with nature conservation (as then still called), with rural landscape management as practised by the 1990s Countryside Commission, and most of all with the planning system – and therefore with change and development, and therefore through the lens of landscape. At the same time, almost always close to the question of landscape, I discovered the benefits and pleasures of European networking, working in several large projects and also on European policy – a 1993 Council of Europe ‘Recommendation’ on cultural landscape, the European Landscape Convention, the Faro Convention (about landscape by another name), and the recent ESF/COST Science Policy Briefing on ‘Landscape in a Changing World’, a European blueprint framework for increased interdisciplinary landscape research.
I became a Director of LRG in 2012, more or less as I left EH; I am currently partly self-employed and partly employed by Newcastle University within its new ‘McCord Centre for Historic and Cultural Landscape’. I co-edit the Maney/Oxbow journal Landscapes, and am the co-ordinator of CHeriScape (http://www.cheriscape.eu), a European network funded through the JPI on Cultural Heritage and Global Change – and I never seem to have enough time, being an archaeologist who does not understand the character of time.