The woods up on the ridge have been full of walkers over the last month or so. All sorts of folk; floppy urban 20 somethings, suburban dogwalkers, locals with time on their hands. Grandparents and grandchildren, parents and children. It's lovely to see them all, but a bit odd.
There are iron age settlements up there, on the northern edge of Durotriges territory. There are medieval field markers, ancient beech, 18th century follies, nice botany. Alfred raised the Fyrd here to march to the battle at Edington; this was the furthest the Danes reached westwards. Today's woods were part of a Royal forest, with all that entails - deer, wild boar, veteran oak pollards, and, down the hill, extant wood pasture.
Degraded landscapes like these woods had much more wildlife too, of course, and some of it seems very exotic to us now.
All this completely passes people by. Information boards can help, but only to a very limited degree. We have feeble imaginations at the best of times, and even knowing a little more than many I can't really understand what walking here would be like, even a hundred years ago.
This difficulty is compounded by the base effect, which is one of the issues frustrating efforts to get people to understand the current parlous state of nature. People's understanding of "normal" is predicated on their own experience. If they grow up without birdsong, they assume that's the way it has always been.
But suppose there was an immersive way to help us imagine how these places were in the past. Wouldn't this help us to understand how they had changed?
That's why I think soundscapes are such a lovely idea, and so evocative. This is one put together to give you a sense of the Levels before the Romans. Close your eyes and you will transported.