the meshwork of motorways

May 22, 2020

The commonest map of Britain is the road atlas. Pick one up, and you see the meshwork of motorways and roads which covers the surface of the country. From such a map, it can appear that the landscape has become so thickly webbed by roads that asphalt and petrol are its new primary elements.

Considering the road atlas, an absence also becomes visible. The wild places are no longer marked. The fells, the caves, the tors, the woods, the moors, the river valleys and the marshes have all but disappeared. If they are shown at all, it is as background shadings or generic symbols. More usually, they have faded out altogether like old ink, become the suppressed memories of a more ancient archipelago.

Robert Macfarlane
The Wild Places

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