Matthew Green


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17 March 2022
ISBN: 9780571338023
368 pages

From the publisher


Drowned. Buried by sand. Decimated by plague. Plunged off a cliff.

This is the forgotten history of Britain’s lost cities, ghost towns and vanished villages: our shadowlands.

‘A beautiful book, truly original . . . It is a marvellous achievement.’
IAN MORTIMER, author of The Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England

‘Well researched, beautifully written and packed with interesting detail.’

‘An exquisitely written, moving and elegiac exploration.’

‘Consistently interesting . . . Green’s passion and historical vision bursts from the page, summoning up the past in surround sound and sensual prose.’
CAL FLYN, THE TIMES (author of Islands of Abandonment)

Britain’s landscape is scarred with haunting and romantic remains; these shadowlands that were once filled with life are now just spectral echoes. Peering through the cracks of history, we find Dunwich, a medieval city plunged off a Suffolk cliff by sea storms; the lost city of Trellech unearthed by moles in the Welsh Marches; and the ghostly reservoir that is Capel Celyn, one of the few remaining solely Welsh-speaking villages, drowned by Liverpool City Council.

Historian Matthew Green tells the extraordinary stories of how these places met their fate and probes the disappearances to explain why Britain looks the way it does today. Travelling across Britain, Green transports the reader to these places as they teeter on the brink of oblivion, vividly capturing the sounds of the sea clawing away row upon row of houses, the taste of medieval wine, or the sights of puffin hunting on the tallest cliffs in the country. We experience them in their prime, look on at their destruction and revisit their lingering remains later as they are mourned by evictees and reimagined by artists, writers and mavericks.

By exploring the lost causes and dead ends of history – places lost to natural phenomena, war and plague, economic shifts and technological progress – the precariousness of our own towns and cities, of humanity, becomes clear. Shadowlands is a deeply evocative and dazzlingly original account of Britain’s past.

‘An eloquent tour of lost communities.’

‘A haunting, lyrical tour around the lost places of Britain.’
CHARLOTTE HIGGINS, author of Under Another Sky

‘A miraculous work of resurrection, stinging in a perpetual present’.
IAIN SINCLAIR, author of The Gold Machine

‘Beautifully written.’ SUNDAY TIMES
‘Splendid.’ THE HERALD
‘Compelling.’ HISTORY TODAY
‘Excellent.’ THE SPECTATOR
‘Fascinating.’ DAILY MAIL
‘Accomplished.’ CAUGHT BY THE RIVER