Tantallon Castle was placed in State Guardianship in 1924. Its first official guidebook was prepared by J.S. Richardson, Inspector of Ancient Monuments for Scotland, and published in 1932 (and reissued in 1937). It was thus one of the earliest of the guides prepared for historic sites in Scotland. The guide starts with a description (pp. 3–11), followed by a history (pp. 12–31). A plan showing the outworks is printed opposite the title page, and a plan and cross-sections are printed on a fold-out sheet inside the back cover. The text is supported by black and white photographs.
Richardson’s guide continued into the 1970s as the blue guide. The format of description followed by history is the same. The fold-out plan continued to be placed inside the back cover. The side headings of the 1930s guide were turned into bold sub-headings.
Chris Tabraham revised the Historic Scotland ‘Official Souvenir Guide’. This contains a guided tour followed by a history. There is a section on the spectacular Bass Rock, home to gannets. There is no plan of the castle, but the guided tour has a number view from the air to help orientate the visitor.
Wicken Fen is a major National Trust property in Cambridgeshire, and a National Nature Reserve. The fen is a reminder of what so much of this part of Cambridgeshire would have looked like at the beginning of the twentieth century – and a reminder of what drainage and modern agriculture has done to these former wetland landscapes. There is a huge bio-diversity in the fen that makes it well worth a visit.
The ladybirds were gathering in large numbers over the weekend at Ickworth. We were able to count more than 55 on the west end of St Mary’s church (in the grounds), mostly, though not exclusively harlequins. They were clearly looking for cracks and corners as temperatures begin to dip.
The tower of the church dates to 1778. The church is now maintained by the Ickworth Church Conservation Trust.
The Neolithic flint mines at Grimes Graves must be one of the most unusual prehistoric sites in the care of English Heritage. Hard hats are worn for a steep climb into one of the pits where it is possible to look into the excavated galleries. Above ground the site is pock-marked with pits that are now covered in.
The heath is a wonderful place for wildlife: woodpecker, kite, larks and a range of butterflies were out enjoying the May sunshine.
Chedworth Roman Villa was acquired for the National Trust in 1924. The site is located in the Cotswolds.
Sir Ian A. Richmond prepared a 15 page guide in 1966. This was revised (‘in the light of recent work on the site’) by Roger Goodburn in 1981 guide (16 pages, paper). A reconstruction was placed on the cover, and there is a double page plan of the villa in the centre showing the sequence of construction, and then a second set of plans for the bath complex in the northern range. Essentially the guide introduces the concept of the villa and then described the ‘discovery, situation and plan’ (pp. 3-4). The rest of the guide consists of a room by room guide, with a short section on the Museum (pp. 14-15).
Goodburn prepared a more detailed illustrated guide in 1979 (my revised copy dates to 2002). This is illustrated with black and white images as well as plans. The main sections are:
The exploration of the site and a brief history of the villa
The Chedworth region in the Roman period
The growth of the house
The Museum (including a section on the coins by Richard Reece)
Buildings in the locality probably associated with the villa
The life and economy of Chedworth
The fate of Chedworth and its neighbours
There is a bibliography for the site.
The 2012 guide is by Simon Esmonde Cleary. It is fully illustrated in colour and has a fold out plan at the front.
The sections are:
Rise and fall and discovery
A golden age
The decline of the Empire
Springing from the earth
Preserved for the public
Landscape and layout
The villa’s layout
Life in the villa
Conserving and learning
Open to public view
The story so far
The rooms appear in double page spreads with plans and reconstructions, e.g. The west range, the dining room, the west bath house, the north wing, the north bath house, room for interpretation (a wonderful bit of honesty!), the south wing, the kitchen, and the latrine.
There is a section on the Museum.
There is a note about the room numbers that were assigned in the Victorian period.
I particularly like the stress on a heritage site as a home for nature conservation with lizards and a distinctive type of snail (see here).