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Ceredigion Atlas Hanesyddol, gan W.J. Lewis, M.Sc\ Aberystwyth, 1955. viiid-91 tud.,
gyda 52 o fapiau a darluniau.
The relationships between history and geography have always been very close and
in modern times there has arisen what is virtually a new subject known as Historical
Geography, which endeavours to study the geography of past epochs. The historical
geographer aims at creating a number of period-pictures in map form and then
commenting on them. Work on these lines has resulted in the production of a
number of historical atlases in modern times, and while several have appeared on
Wales and the Welsh Counties this is the first one to appear on Cardiganshire. Mr.
Lewis is to be congratulated on an excellent piece of pioneering work.
The pattern adopted by the author is well suited for use in school. For each of
the many period-pictures covering the history of the county from prehistoric times
to the present day the author has given us a map, drawn usually with specially-
selected symbols, to show the respective distributions. There is also a little drawing
or photograph of the subject-matter of the map and then, oh the opposite page, is
the letterpress written in good Welsh describing both the general background and the
major features of the distribution concerned. One of the chief difficulties in a work
of this character is to make the right selection of topics for illustration and here again
Mr. Lewis has made an admirable choice. We are given a good cross section of the
major stages in the development of modern Cardiganshire. It is a pity, in a way,
that the Atlas concludes with a list of Cardiganshire-born notables grouped on a
parish basis. In the first place, this cuts across the whole concept of an Historical
Atlas and would lead to outmoded methods of presenting local historical material
in the schools, while, furthermore, any list of this character would be bound to
allow itself to be open to criticism.
As the Atlas was intended primarily for school children the author was presented
with a further difficult task-that of portraying all the map material at a reasonably
simple level. Here it is only natural that Mr. Lewis has experienced great difficulty,
but, on the whole, he has dealt with the matter extraordinarily well. It is, neverthe-
less, very difficult to agree that the excellent studies of the historical aspects of land
use and settlement in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries based on
original sources (pp. 61-7) are to be placed in the same category as the map of the
lead mines, 1800-1930 (p. 56), or that of the parish churches about 1750 (p. 26).
It would, however, be very ungracious to end on a note of criticism-the out-
standing merits of this Atlas far exceed its defects. In the absence of a complete
history of Cardiganshire it is the only source wherein all aspects of the life of the
county in past times are dealt with on modem lines. This is a book that should be
in the hands of all lovers of Cardiganshire and particularly in those of all members
of the Cardiganshire Antiquarian Society.
E. G. Bowen.
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