Circles of Stone - Max Milligan, Aubrey Burl
Hardcover - 224 pages October 1999 Harvill Press
Hear the story behind the book:
My interview with Max Milligan, photographer with a painter's eye. (6'20'')
Here is my first impression of the book: Wow! I can see how some people got the idea that this book was an update of Burl's 1976 'Stone Circles of the British Isles'. It covers seventy sites in 230 pages and it's no coffee table book. Each circle has an outline plan and most sites have three or four photos giving Milligan the chance to pick interesting angles and individual stones. This is a philosophy I have tried to follow on the web where photos are almost free, but your average book shows one rather boring overall view of each site if you're lucky.
This, and things like the super-strokeable front and end-papers are why this book costs what it does. Milligan is described as one of Britain's most exciting new photographers, and he tackles the subject with energy. Commendably, he uses no ghastly graduated filters or other such fiddles. It hardly needs saying that Burl's lucid text and pithy wit are a pleasure, as always. There's even a 'carved head' from the Ring of Brodgar (frost action says Aubrey).
It's unusual in that there are no maps, and the circles are in order of date and name. Perhaps it's trying to steer away from being thought of as a guide book. Stirring the sites together like this makes for a fresh approach, and gives me the urge to reach again into the sack of reviewer's clichés and use the word juxtaposition. Apparently Circles of Stone was delayed three months from a July launch because the photography didn't come out 100% first time. This fanatic attention to quality is apparent throughout, and is doubtless why the Dr Burl was approached to write the text. Step aside Julian Cope, suddenly your holiday snaps look rather sad. I've run out of stars: 5/5!
Circles of Stone - Max Milligan, Aubrey Burl The amazing photography of Max Milligan combined with Burl's scientific survey.
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