Review of ‘Shadowlands: A Journey Through Lost Britain’ by Matthew Green

Vanished cities, towns and villages have a strange appeal. We can admire how nature takes over them while we mourn what was lost. Moreover, we have a glimpse of what our own habitations might look like in the future. This history book is not a comprehensive guide, but focuses on the following places: Skara Brae, Trellech, Winchelsea, Wharram Percy, Dunwich, St Kilda, Norfolk military training sites and Capel Celyn. The author narrates the history of each place, looks at it in the context of British history and goes to visit – or rather, visit what little might be left – of the sites. Dunwich was the only place I already had significant knowledge of, while I knew of Skara Brae but wasn’t sure I’d ever heard of the others.

The topic is fascinating, which made the book a worthwhile read. However, the word ‘Journey’ in the title suggested that this would be one of those history / travel hybrids which I enjoy. The travel element is quite minor, I suppose because there isn’t much to see! It’s more of a straightforward history book. The writing style was denser and more academic than I usually read. Although the book is clearly well-researched and has a brilliant attention to detail, I found it difficult at times. I’m not sure I’d recommend it, unless you’re used to reading serious history books.

Thank you to the publisher Faber and Faber for the advance copy via NetGalley. The book will be published on 17th March.

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