Kent Archaeological Review extract

by Peter Grant (Reviewer).

Annotated and Edited by Gordon J. Copley (Published by Hutchinson Publishing Group, price 7.50).

In 1586, William Camden, the Tudor historian, published his well known Britannia, a topographical and historical survey of England, county by county. As such it has long been a valuable source of reference for scholars, archaeological groups, historical societies and enthusiasts. Its value and attraction of course is that it is local history written at a crucial time in the development of this country, but still history that is more personal than the remoter sweep of national events. It is a useful tool of present day archaeology but it has to be remembered that a great deal of historical research and scientific archaeological excavation has taken place since the survey was last edited in 1789, and so its information and comment must be regarded accordingly. In this new edition Dr Gordon Copley has undertaken the enormous task of adding an extensive up to date annotation to Camden's text. Thanks to his efforts we now have in one handy volume a modern edition of Camden's 'Kent' that will be welcomed not only by the scholar or student, but also by all those who simply get pleasure from the study of their own localities, indeed the author had the latter much in mind when preparing this new edition. Calling on a vast range of sources including those subsequent researches, and a personal knowledge of all the places mentioned, he has produced an annotation that is scholarly and comprehensive, adding enormously to the clarification and information of Camden's text, yet it is always easy and enjoyable to read. The note and text references are clearly numbered and being on the same page there is no irritating flicking from one page to another. The many 18th and 17th cent. engravings are a useful and attractive addition to the text and notes.

Dr Copley is to be congratulated on producing not only a renewed and valuable source of reference, but also a strong reminder that although much has gone, a great deal of Camden's Kent still remains to be watched over and fought for. Recording and protecting the past as we know is not always easy. If motive were required, we could do worse than quote the old historian himself who said of his survey, simply, `for love of my country'.

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