I’ve been sorting out my books: those at home and in my work office, and I finally decided to tackle the disorganised debacle of my National Trust, English Heritage and Cadw guidebooks.
This reveals some sad things; including just how few Historic Scotland sites I’ve visited in comparison with English and Welsh sites, and that the Welsh ones out-number the English Heritage ones but a significant margin (although not quite so starkly as the images suggest: I found a stash of other EH guides after taking these photos).
This is perhaps not surprising given that over the last 20 years I’ve been living in Carmarthen, Swansea, Exeter and Chester.
I don’t seem to have amassed many NT guidebooks, even for sites I regularly visitor in both Wales and England: their interior focus isn’t my bag.
Still, I must make more efforts, when possible, to do better regarding NT guidebooks and to visit more sites in Ireland and Scotland, as well as farther afield (although, for balance, I have nearly as many Swedish church guidebooks as English and Welsh ones).
For the moment, my personal identity as revealed by guidebooks to ancient and historic monuments is demonstrable and clear: I’m Welsh.
I’m a Guidebook ‘Repeat Offender’
The second stark point is a realisation that, despite my best efforts, I’m a repeat offender in regards to buying guidebooks. In some instances this is perfectly legitimate: the guidebook has been updated and I’ve bought a new copy. The content may be similar, but augmented and adapted, and so it is legitimate and useful that I have different versions. I can use this for teaching and research about the changing content and character of guidebooks, set against the longer-term backdrop of the history of such publications, as explored by David Gill.
Yet in some instances, I find myself with identical guidebooks, bought years apart. No excuse here, I just can’t help buying those guidebooks when I visit places it seems: it’s ingrained as a practice: visiting involves purchasing one of these things….