Landscape character assessment – 2

Flicking through the landscape character assessments available on the SNH website has provoked the following observations.

1. The use of the word landscape as a opposed to land implies a particular perspective that may include scenic beauty or aesthetic judgement. Landscape by definition is something that is a cultural framing that includes the raw material of land and nature but adds a human value that is informed by a maturing appreciation and ordering of our natural surroundings. This appreciation is to a degree reflected in and informed by western arts practice.

2. Landscape character assessments contain little direct reference to the above perspective though they contain a range of illustrative drawings that draw on a particular traditional aesthetic framing of the land they describe. Maybe they should draw from the well of literature and art in order to support the description and assessment of a particular area.

eg Here’s a pretty good highland landscape character assessment by Steve Greaves 2002

Steve Greaves - Scottish Highlands - landscape painting

or how about this:

“See that kingly Cairngorm

From his heaven-kissing Crown.

On the wealth of pine-clad valleys

Northward looking grandly down;

From his broad and giant shoulders,

From huge gap and swelling vein

Through the deep snow-mantled corrie

Pouring waters to the plain….”

John Stuart Blackie 1888 

would these kinds of description enhance the  landscape character assessment documents? anyway they would maybe justify the use of the word landscape.


3. Final thought: with this in mind can there be such a thing as wild landscapes in Scotland? Are Scotland’s wild landscapes only an ‘other’ that is not seen by most people apart from in images or in the minds eye but can never be wild due being codified in these images. Maybe the best and most important wild land (as opposed to landscape) are not areas of scenic beauty but areas of little interest to people due to lack of attractiveness and therefore don’t exist in images, but are nevertheless ecologically diverse with for example Golden Eagles. It’s a shame this tends to be where wind-farms end up being built.



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