Constructing a sense of place

So in fact this sense of permanence, this feeling of enduring history, is a tease: landscapes alter. Humans make their mark and then in a generation or two the marks are erased: the evidence of what has once been may be visible enough to archaeologists, ecologists, and topographers , to trained eyes but to most of us the countryside we see is timeless: because it is there, and because it looks just so . . . we find it easy to believe it has always looked so."

Tim Radford, The Address Book. (2011). pp. 51-52.


Greek | Roman | Medieval | Modern | Contemporary


Layers of words from antiquity to present times convey a deeply expressive and variety of meaning with respect to terrain.



Students when constructing a sense of place use words, literature, pictures, maps, painting, sounds, cuisine and describe ethnic varieties of inhabitants.


"of airs, waters and places," the Hippocratic Corpus

Herodotus notes the dependence of ethnic character on the erosiontopographical features, climate and geographical situation of distinct peoples.

phanearain, the manifestation of the divine embodied in the material conditions of places.

physis, the material, corporeal, or bodily condition of things.

pan the wild urge of the countryside to overrun civilized spaces.


chortos, food, fodder, tilled earth

hyle, wood, matter


topos, place

oikos, household

oikumene, fields, groves, structures

Olive culture in southern Spain reveals the impact of olive tree orchards on land-use.

Hekate was the goddess of Crete's crossroads.

Delphi was the omphalos of the Hellenistic world.

deltaic, the broad sinuous pathways of a river meeting the sea.

Greek | Roman | Medieval | Modern | Contemporary



natus, to be born, nativity, native

terra, terrain as a tract of ground

Sylvanus, god of fields and woods

Termini, deities of boundaries

hortus, an enclosed outside area 123

Genii loci, a peculiar manifestation of local power of terrains to influence customs.

forum, an area for human exchange

rivas, rivals referring to opposite sides or banks of a river.

fructus naturales, the fruit native to a region

garden, a places to cultivate plants.

rogation, from rogare to walk around; the annual walking of boundaries by elders and priests to establish common borders.

commons, those areas established for grazing and wood gathering adjacent to villages and held communally by all the inhabitants.

Greek | Roman | Medieval | Modern | Contemporary



ground grund, bottom (Swedish, Teutonic)

Holland land of woods 96

forest foris; an outdoor enclosure 76

park Royal hunting preserve parc

garden cultivated plot; Latin-Germanic

weal, weald woodlands from wald, Germanic


Greek | Roman | Medieval | Modern | Contemporary




scenery the view of a place from a fixed point of observation aided by painting in perspective.

Jacob von Ruisdael

The human influence barely rises above the naturally dominant rapids in Jacob van Ruisdael's [1628/29-1682], 1660-65, oil on canvas painting from the Dutch classical period.



Greek | Roman | Medieval | Modern | Contemporary


17th Century

tulip mania, commercial speculation wildly fueled by a bulb blossoming in the spring led to loss of excess commercial capital in the Netherlands.

landskyp – landscape, an expanse of natural scenery

engineer, a maker of defense-works


Greek | Roman | Medieval | Modern | Contemporary


18th Century

sublime, overwhelming scenery diminishing the human scale.

picturesque, having the quality of a painting in the proportion and array of natural objects.


Washerwomen, or The Marsh, Constant Troyon, oil on canvas, 1840. Art Institute of Chicago.

"a place being a fusion of human and natural order, and a peculiar window on the whole."

Richard Wilbur

evolution, Diderot, Buffon, Goethe. . . . Erasmus Darwin


Greek | Roman | Medieval | Modern | Contemporary


19th Century

Frederick Edwin Church, View of Quebec City on the St. Lawrence River.

William Cullen Bryant's publication of the collection Picturesque America the places where cultural landscapes are created and people dwell.


scenic, 1842 "bare of scenic interest," Dickens about America's prairies.



"tangled bank" Charles Darwin's imagery for the concept of natural selection.

Worm reef

Sabellariid Worm Reefs alng the Floridian Atlantic Ocean shore.

Russian "Zapovedniks"

"the essential condition for establishing zapovednost is the granting of land-use rights and removal of territory from previous ownership for the sole and free use by nature itself. . . . it remains the fundamental concept underlying zapovednost, and it cannot be abandoned. "

Feliks Robertovich Shtilʹmark. History of the Russian Zapovedniks, 1895-1995. p. 1

Leonid Shishkin [1832-1898], "Rye" – Russian; woods behind a rye field, 1878 landscape oil on canvas painting.

plant associations


sanitariums, the hospitals for TB set in cleanly watered and fresh air conditions.

Saranac Lake

Saranac Lake, in the Adirondack mountains was once a setting for sanitariums for tuberculosis sufferers and health seekers.


Greek | Roman | Medieval | Modern | Contemporary


line of spectrum



D. H. Lawrence, the sensitivity to conditions that impart a wholeness to human experience because of how we may feel grounded in certain places.

Robert Frost, "the land was ours before we were the lands."


Places are changed by human actions.



Greek | Roman | Medieval | Modern | Contemporary


Siry | Jackson | Williams | Bateson | Hundley
| Place as dimensions | Place defined | 3 authors on | related words for places | Sensitivity to places |

Jackson | Thoreau | D.H. Lawrence | Open Space of Democracy | Williams | Gerald Durrell | Pacey | Siry | Hundley | Austin