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Gardens of Earthly Delight (Paperback)

The History of Deer Parks

By John Fletcher
Imprint: Windgather Press
Pages: 296
Illustrations: b/w & col illus
ISBN: 9781905119363
Published: 15th March 2011
Casemate UK Academic



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This is a highly original, profusely illustrated, and well  researched account of deer parks. With humility and respect  Fletcher touches on errors commonly made by archaeologists and  historians, taking issue with long held theories while drawing on  his lifetime working with deer to formulate plausible  explanations as to, for example, why they were not domesticated  until the 20th century, how parks evolved from  haga  and  elricks , why deer parks were created throughout Eurasia, why fallow so rapidly ousted red deer from medieval British parks, and much  more.  


He ranges from meat sharing amongst chimpanzees to the symbolism  of venison as the elite product of  hunting, ensconced within  seven centuries of the English Royal Warrant, through the 300  year long prohibition on its sale within England and the  continuing illegality of selling hunted venison within the USA,  the aristocratic pursuit of park breaking, and the imposition of  the Black Act. He stresses  the cross-cultural importance of  rulers being seen to hunt, compares ancient Chinese parks, the  colossal Asian ring hunts, and the water hunts of Germany as  expressions of man's urge to contain deer.


Within Britain, which has for a thousand years held more deer   parks than any other part of the world, he describes how deer  were fed, transported, enclosed, captured, castrated and housed,  and how they were hunted in the confines of parks. The recent  theory as to the use of trenches for handling deer in medieval  Scotland is explored.  The international symbolism of white deer,  collared deer and enclosed deer is discussed. Recently, parks  provided deer for English carted hunts  and Scottish sporting  estates;  now we recognise their ecological and recreational  value. We learn how parklands may be our spiritual home - the  environment in which we are most content  - and that parks have  always been, in a fashion, designed landscapes.

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About John Fletcher

John Fletcher is a specialist deer vet who took a PhD from Cambridge on the breeding behaviour of deer. He has, over many years, established a worldwide reputation in the behaviour, biology and practical management of deer especially in parks and on farms. His last book explored several historical theories and he has now developed these into a significant contribution to the history of deer parks.

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