by Chris Currie
Practical Handbooks in Archaeology No 17.

Published by the Council for British Archaeology, York 2005
ISBN 1-902771-48-6

Paperback £12.50

The development of garden archaeology as a specialist field is a recent phenomenon, attributable to the increase in historic garden restorations in the past twenty-five years.  An extra impetus was given by the severe storm of October 1987, when many large trees in established landscapes and gardens were uprooted.  The author compiled this handbook based on his exploration of how to apply archaeological methods to practical fieldwork on historic gardens under the auspices of the Leverhulme Trust.  The largest (and best-known) project in the 1990s was the excavation and restoration of the Privy Garden at Hampton Court.

This handbook’s value to garden historians (and CGT recorders) is the significance Chris Currie attaches to research methodology, even before excavation begins.  Equally relevant to CGT garden recording are the detailed explanations of the sources, uses, and interpretation of documentary research, aerial photography, theodolites and GPS, as well as the various methods of recording garden buildings.  Case histories demonstrate the points made.

Currie died during the final preparation of the book, which would account for some repetitiveness, misspellings and typographical mistakes.  Nevertheless, this little handbook offers the most useful practical advice to garden recorders that I have seen so far.