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Nicholas Crane's Britannia -

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(generated from captions) the mist and the low cloud, Ahead of me, just visible in is the coast of Cornwall. many a shipwreck. This coast has seen many a warship, slightly forbidding perhaps. It's an eerie, mysterious place, It gives nothing away, of extraordinary variety, no hint that this is an island one man in the 16th Century, an island that so inspired the most famous in the world. he thought he could make it attempt to seize Elizabethan Britain sailed up the English Channel in an Two years before the Spanish Armada Britain in a very different way. London, which would take hold of for Spain, a book was published in transform the British Isles. was called Britannia and it would The year was 1586, the book is the work of staggering genius. This lost masterpiece ever been seen before. Nothing like it had described in great detail, the entire British Isles had been For the first time, the whole country in a single book. an encyclopaedic tour of hold Britain in their hands. Elizabethan readers could is William Camden. The name on the title page William Shakespeare, Unlike his contemporary, Camden is scarcely known today. And yet for 150 years, the first port of call this book was anything about Britain. for anybody needing to know the hopes of Britain This was an era in which was staked on world exploration, of Drake, Hawkins and Raleigh. on the foreign adventures and people of Britain. all his faith in the landscape But William Camden put just what I'm planning to do too. Scotland and Ireland - and that's Britannia explores England, Wales, school I learned the big history Like everyone else, when I was at the power marriages, the beheadings. of the Elizabethans - the politics, been fascinated by But what I've always was like, the life of the land. is what ordinary Elizabethan life three-part series. to investigate in this That's what I'm going of Camden's Elizabethan Britain. I'm going to rediscover what I can in a right fruitful and mild place. as well for airs as soil "Britain is seated be not excessive hot, that not only the summers "The air so kind and temperate the winters are also passing mild." winds that abate their heat, but "by reason of continual gentle Britannia was hugely ambitious. most famous island in the world? How could Camden make Britain the required evidence, That sort of claim evidence of a unified nation, a nation rich in natural resources, and common purpose. a nation steeped in enterprise county by county study of Britain. So Camden set out to make the first the British book of self-belief. Elizabethan national treasure - What he produced was an And it all started in Cornwall. the best of Elizabethan Britain. the places that are going to reveal From Britannia, I've picked was the centre of religious, Port Eliot on Plymouth Sound so that's got to be worth a look. commercial and naval pass, and the people of the city. a feud between a local aristocrat Exeter, where Camden writes of A Roman amphitheatre in South Wales. describes as the British Alps. And then the place Camden mountains of Snowdonia. To you and me, the spectacular England is the Lake District. My final port of call in to open a door into a lost world. miles is this book and it's going And my guide for the next 1,500 his comments on the county's name. county entries begins with Each one of Camden's derives from colonel, Cornwall, he believes, scattered along the coast. the horns being the promontories the old British word for "horns", are hardy and courteous. The Cornish people, he says, is their enterprise. But what Camden admires with seaweed to produce corn. They fertilise the poor soils throughout Europe. They mine tin for export And they risk the dangerous seas by the boat-load. to catch a dozen kinds of fish a horn of plenty. Camden's Cornwall is a cornucopia, of that? Is there any present day evidence to meet up with Phil Trebilcock, I've come to Newquay 21st century fishing compare? coast for over 30 years. How does who's been crab-fishing around this Very good to meet you. Yes. How many pots are we picking up? out there? 500. 500? Yeah. pick up. How many have you got As many as you like to three to four per cent of our diet. 'Today, fish accounts for only the figure was nearer 25 per cent. 'But in Elizabethan times, was supported by laws prescribing 'The livelihoods of fishermen some Wednesdays and throughout Lent. 'fish days on Fridays, in prison or the pillory.' of meat and you could end up 'Break the law with a plateful there plenty of them down here? How are crabs stock out here? Are coast of Cornwall that I would say on the north and the spiders are in good order. the lobster stock and the crabs maybe next year or the year after. going back into the sea, live, for 50 per cent of what we catch is coming into this business? And many young fishermen It doesn't appeal to everybody. wet and cold, isn't it? It's kind of dangerous, No. Unfortunately, there aren't. And one of the main reasons why is that when we started, we had very little paperwork, you were full of it, you know. and you were keen, you were young, but you followed on a tradition "You thought you were King Kong!" The first time you caught a lobster, been a religious duty to eat fish. 'In the medieval past, there had for more practical reasons. valued their fishermen 'But the Elizabethans in the country's defences. 'They played a vital part and they were the navy sailors.' fishermen in Cornwall and Devon 'In 1582, there were 2,000 Wow, he's beautiful, isn't he? Yeah. Yeah, massive. That's a male spider. He's absolutely beautiful. yourself, Phil? I do, yeah. Do you like eating crab have a nice crab sandwich As a preference, I would sooner I really do. as paying ?25 for a lobster. a poor man's food, sometimes. Elizabethan days, it was Do you know? Back in to please the appetite. to preserve life but not enough They said it was sufficient Woah! Look at the lobster! Yes, woah! Fantastic! of the sea before. That's amazing! I've never, ever seen one taken out Isn't that incredible? Nice Cornish lobster. 1580s but this was an era of change. Cornwall was a fine county in the Camden knew as Port Eliot. I'm on my way now to a place Behind me is the village of St Germans and the river here is the Lynher. The water could get quite shallow, so ships had to drag a chain behind them to stir up the silt and keep the river navigable. Camden described this as a place where the fishing trade sat alongside cargo ships and pious monks. But in fact, by his time, the quayside markets were in decline. They belonged to a past era when the river was owned by the priory of St Germans and the main fish eaters were monks. What a grand boathouse! Just look at this door. It's got an exquisite carved granite lintel, which looks pretty old. It's rather odd though because this wall is much more modern. Look, there's more huge granite blocks here. I reckon this granite's been recycled from probably a medieval building maybe near here. The likelihood is that the boathouse was built using stone from the walls of the old priory. Before the dissolution removed Catholic monasteries from the British landscape, this whole area was called Port Priory. Some years later, the priory buildings and the land were acquired by a local gentleman, John Eliot, and things began to change. Just over there through the trees, you can see a curl of the river. But once upon a time, it flowed much further to the left in a huge sweep across the grass and then one of its tidal creeks ran right across the foreground here, following the line of that modern road. It used to lap the walls of the priory right below this tower. So for half the day, the priory looked out over glittering water but for the other half, it was facing a stinking stew of deep, tidal mud. A place like this gives you a fascinating insight into just how much landscapes can change through time. All this was filled in, in the late 1700s, but it was a process which began in the Elizabethan era. Fashion was taking over from function. Mud, working rivers, the fish trade, monkish ruins were plain out of date. For over 100 years, the seat of the bishops of Cornwall was at Port Priory in the old Saxon cathedral. "There are certain, as I hear, who take it impatiently that I have "mentioned some of the most famous monasteries and their founders. "I am sorry to hear it." Camden was often accused of being a lukewarm Protestant. He wasn't very pleased by the destruction of the monasteries and once described the dissolution as that fatal thunderclap. My own view is that Camden was a Protestant keen on reforming the church but is very unusual for his times because he believed that faith could take many forms. The diocese of Cornwall was eventually added to Devon and the bishop moved from Port Priory to Exeter and that's where Britannia is taking me next. William Camden was in his 30s when he began Britannia. He was, by then, an under-master at Westminster School. With long holidays for research, he left behind London and his life of libraries and Latin and became an explorer. How much time he spent in Devon is hard to tell. But it was long enough for him to pick up some gems of local history. This is the Old Harbour at Exeter. It was from here that ships used to sail to Spain and to France with their hulls loaded with woollen cloth. Exeter was ideally located on the river for trading and merchants here were making a stack of cash. Then in 1316, it suddenly changed. Ships could no longer get up the river, all because of one aristocrat and a place called Topsham. Exeter had been a battleground for Romans, Danes and Normans. But in Camden's view, none of them inconvenienced the city half as much as the noble family of Courtenay. "Exeter received not so great damage at these enemies' hands "as it did by certain dams, which were called weirs. "But Edward Courtenay, Earl of Denshire, taking high displeasure against the citizens, "made in the river of Exe, which stopped the passage so that no vessel can come up to the city. "But since that time, all merchandise is carried by land from Topsham, three miles off." So, somewhere between here and Topsham were some weirs obstructing the river. I wonder if any of them have survived. Rivers were crucial to the country's transport and trade and the Exe would have been busy. The growing towns needed supplies of rural products like wood and leather. Wow, look at the size of this weir! It crosses the river from one side to the other and there's no way a sea-going trading ship is going to get up this. I'm not sure I can even get down either. Woah! Didn't fall out. Amazing. That's not much of an Elizabethan trading route. So why were the weirs built? I've canoed down to Topsham Quay to meet David Clement. He's chair of the South West Maritime History Society so I'm hoping he can sort out what the Courtenays gained by creating their weirs. Well, the weirs were built by the Earl of Devon, Hugh Courtenay, basically to protect his fishing interest. And what effect did that have on Exeter? It immediately stopped any trade coming up to Exeter and to the Exeter quays and diverted all the trade through to Topsham, which was actually owned by the Earl of Devon. So he gained in all the tariffs and taxes for discharging and exporting of materials from Topsham. What does that mean in the long run for Topsham? In the long run, it brought Topsham up to the position of being the second most important port in the entire kingdom in terms of trade. How amazing! Absolutely. So weir building pays off? Well, it did in that case, yeah. Was there anything that people of Exeter could do about it? Nothing at all, really. All they could do was to surreptitiously purchase land along the side of the river, which enabled them subsequently to build a canal across the way there. Well, the canal was built in the mid-1560s and originally, it was around about three feet deep and ten feet wide. So, it was basically used for lighter and barge traffic because it was not deep enough to take a sea-going vessel. That's amazing! I mean, all dug by hand? Well, presumably, yes, absolutely. They didn't have JCBs in those days. No. Extraordinary. The Exeter Canal, a brand new enterprise in 1566 and the first canal in the country to use lock gates, owes its existence to an arrogant earl and his obstructive weirs. Talk about one law for the rich. Society was changing in Elizabethan times. Many country people had been thrown into poverty by field enclosures. Others were migrating to towns for the better trading opportunities and jobs. The population, which had been in a slump, was rapidly rising. By the end of the century, London had quadrupled to 200,000. Not all country people did badly though. Smallholders like yeoman farmers found themselves getting wealthier and able to build large houses for themselves. And the gentry too, who'd gained land from the demolished monasteries, were also busy extending their houses. Architecture was changing, as a result. More houses had second floors, ceilings, glass windows, fireplaces and chimneys. This house, Chavenage, belonged to an Edward Stephens. In the 1570s, he added two wings and a central porch. The glass for those huge windows came from a local priory. William Camden would have found his food and lodging in houses like this. The main meal of the day was between 11 and 12 noon, nobility a little earlier, merchants a little later. And labourers, when they got a break. If you think there's too much interference in what we eat today, you should try being a low-income Elizabethan. If you earned ?40 a year or less, you were only allowed to eat two courses plus soup or the food police would come and break your door down. On the other hand, if you're a knight or a bishop, you could eat nine courses. And they ate everything. On top of lamb and mutton, pork and veal, they ate bustards, cranes, storks and swans and plenty of conies - rabbits. Camden's contemporary, William Harrison, decided this was, "a conspiracy with a great deal of meat for the speedy suppression of natural health." The poor settled for chicken and cheese. Vegetables were only eaten if nothing better was available. Although there was a new vegetable from America which people seemed to like, the potato. Everybody ate bread, of which there were several classes. Wheat bread was the finest followed by rye. Barley bread was less good and in hard times, the poor made bread from beans or peas, sometimes with acorns mixed in. Wash it all down with a flagon of ale, or a pint of wine, then off to bed. And by the way, the Elizabethans slept sitting up. With open fires filling rooms with smoke, you were much less lightly to cough or to choke if you slept upright. There's also a slight risk that if you slept lying down and your mouth fell open in the night, the devil might jump in and steal your soul. Heading through Somerset now, a county Camden says has mild summers. But in winter, "it's so wet and weely, so miry and moorish". Camden was interested in weather and he seemed to have grasped how the gulf streams softens Britain's climate. "The sea," he says, "which compeseth it with moderate warm, doth comfort the land." The Elizabethans made some real advances in science - in astronomy, anatomy, botany and zoology. And Camden was ahead of his time in many of his scientific comments. And as he reaches Gloucestershire, he finds himself puzzling over the discovery of some oyster shells a long way from the sea. "Up on the hills near Alderley, "a small town, there are found certain stones resembling cockles, "or periwinkles and oysters, which whether they have been "some times living creatures or the gamesome sports of nature, I leave it to philosophers." As it happens, Alderley lies right at the foot of the Cotswolds and I reckon this must be one of his hills. The thing is, where are the stones shaped like shellfish? "Fracastorius, the principle philosopher in this our age maketh "no doubt but that they were living creatures engendered in the sea and by waters brought to the mountains. "For he affirmeth that mountains were cast up by the sea." It's in limestone like this... that I'd expect to come across... Camden's crustaceans. What I'm looking for are patterns on the rocks. Not rocks like this, which is just an ordinary, rough, old rock with no shapes in it at all, but rocks which have smooth mathematical curves on them that suggest a living creature. This is the kind of thing, with these smooth curves here. That's not a very good example but that's the kind of thing. There's...there's a much smaller one there, part of it. So that's the kind of thing I'm looking for. Yeah, this is more like it, look at this. Yeah, here we go. That is a very clear seashell that once contained a little sea creature. Camden's oysters might look as though they were deposited here a couple of days ago, but what we know now is that they are in fact 175 million years old, a good deal older than Camden's famous island. This whole area was once beneath a shallow sea filled with tiny life forms like cockles and oysters. Back then, Britain was close to the equator, pretty much where Bermuda is today. Fortunately, for those of us who enjoy this climate, Britain drifted a long way northwards, and the shallow sea disappeared. Then the continent of Africa collided with Europe. The Alps were thrown up and so were various outline ranges. So, the oysters which lived and died in that shallow sea are now found up here on the top of this hill as fossils. The description of the Alderley fossils typifies a new Elizabethan approach to the study of the natural world. Camden feels he needs to get out there to understand the history. He takes what is gleaned from personal observation and puts together with what he's learned from books. Well, I've reached Oxford, where Camden came as a student aged 15 in 1566. Although he left without taking a degree, he must have been fired up by the humanist scholars he heard and talked to. Alongside his classical studies, he went to lectures on cosmography and on a subject new to university, geography. Humanists saw geography as the natural and necessary partner to history. With the two of them, you could celebrate a nation. Oxford reinforced in Camden's mind the power of books. It's easy to forget today that although printing had been around in England for a century, book publishing had been slow to get off the ground. All that changed in Elizabeth's reign. In under 50 years, 7,000 titles appeared. So what have we got here, Paul? We have type cases. The uppercase contains the capitals, which is why we call them uppercase. And the lower case contains the smaller letters, punctuation and spacing and so forth. Uppercase and lowercase. To do some hand setting, we need a text to work from. I have one, a favourite phrase from Britannia. Camden's mission statement is beautiful. "The blessed estate and happy wealth of Britain". This is what he's trying to demonstrate in his book, Britannia. Right, to start, you take the composing stick - this little tray, which you hold in your left hand. Start with the first letter, an uppercase "T". and because we're not professional compositors, we have a lay of the case here. That's like a little map of where all the letters are in the trays. Exactly. The "T" is this character here. And you put it into the composing stick upside-down, like that. How can you tell it's upside-down? It has a nick on the bottom of the type. You put it in so the nick points towards your thumb and the "T" is pointing towards you so you can read what you're doing. Then the second character is a lowercase "H", which is there, followed by a lowercase "E". How long did it take to train a compositor to work? It was a seven-year apprenticeship. So it was a long process. So, I'll hand it over to you now and you can take over. If you tilt this too much, the whole will slide on the floor? It is. Keep it at the right angle so that gravity is with you. Small "B". Lowercase "B" is here. Little nick along there "B". Oh, God, they're fiddly, aren't they! Yes, and the type used to set Camden's Britannia was smaller. So, that would have been even more fiddly? Yes, absolutely. The "L" is a bit of a nightmare. Yeah. Don't worry, pick up another one. If a compositor dropped one, he'd just carry on. We've got a double "S". Did they have a special ligature? They did. If you look at the upper case, there are a number of long "S" ligatures. And if you go right along. That one. That's right. That is an "SS" ligature. OK. Up three. Looks rather like the German eszett. Do you think I'd get a job as a compositor? After seven years, I think you probably would! Britannia was a pretty big book. Yes. 550-odd pages. That's right. More, yes. How many lines, do you reckon? I've worked it out and it's roughly 23,000 lines. 23,000?! Yes. 23,000 lines like this to be set in type? Yes, and you've only done two words of one. Exactly! And it's taken me about quarter of an hour. Yes. How long did it take to type-set Britannia? Well, it's difficult to say, but I suppose something like 1,600 man hours to set the whole of Britannia. Unbelievable! A huge amount of time. About 22 weeks for one person, but there would have been several compositors working on the book. But it was still a major undertaking. So, I've done one whole word, OK. Congratulations. The blessed estate, "E", that's an "E". Let's speed up a bit. Let's see if we can rush through this. "The blessed estate and happy wealth of Britain." That's a line, what next? Now we can take your type, put it in the press and print a proof. Good. I'm going to ask you to remove the galley and the block. There we go, done that. And then I'm simply going to slide that in to there. So what next? The next thing to do is to ink the form. And for that, we need inking balls or dabbers. I have a couple which I've charged with ink here. They're made from leather and the leather was tanned with urine, so it smelt foul. So the main smell of a printing house was the smell of this foul leather used for the inking balls. Yuk, that's pretty nasty. We can now put the inking balls aside and look to the paper. I've put a sheet on to the tympan, which is this part here. If you could fold down that frame, the frisket. The frisket and tympan, an incredible lexicon of printing terms! Yes, marvellous language. Fold the two over together so that the ink type touches the paper. Very gently, OK. Now, turn the handle on this side, which is called the rounce. Here we go. Until it goes as far as it will. Take hold of the lever and pull it towards you. Grab that, round we come. Then just ease it back until it's gone as far as it will. That's it. Put it back. Now, turn the rounce clockwise. Take it all the way out. Here it comes. And now, for the moment of truth. If you grip the tympan and frisket together and pull them up... Look at that. There it is. "The blessed estate and happy wealth of Britain." Here's a first edition of Camden's Britannia. It's got the date 1586 on the title page. It's in Latin but the interesting thing is that it doesn't have any maps. Camden deeply regretted the lack of maps and he apologises to readers for not putting them in. But it probably wasn't his fault. It's much more likely that maps at the time were regarded as being far too useful to Britain's enemies who might have been planning an invasion. So it wasn't till the early 1600s that Camden got his way and turned Britannia into a very different kind of book. And here it is. Just look at this. Complete with maps and translated into English. Onto the next leg of my journey. For a new and enlarged edition of Britannia, William Camden decided to visit Wales, the second country on his famous island. He learnt Welsh prior to going and then set off in 1590. His purpose was to persuade his readers that Wales was a natural part of Britain. So he wanted evidence of similarity, what had shaped the character of the two countries. Like many of his contemporaries, Camden believed it was the Romans who'd had the greatest influence. The Elizabethans were rediscovering the Romans. Shakespeare was writing plays about Roman history. There was a whole new antiquarian excitement about Roman literature, Roman soldiering, Roman monuments. This is Caerleon in Monmouthshire. The Romans arrived here around AD74 and it soon became, after Canterbury and York, the third most important province of Roman Christianity in Britain. With a whole legion stationed here, 6,000 men, a little entertainment was called for. Traders, taverns, shops, brothels were all drawn here like a magnet. And in around AD90, the Romans built themselves an amphitheatre. Here's the ticket booth and just through here is the arena. Magnificent! For Camden, Roman civilisation provided Elizabethan Britain with a model of law and Christian obedience. They might have been harsh masters, but the benefits outweighed the cruelties. "This yoke of the Romans, although it were grievous, yet comfortable it proved and a saving health unto them. "For that healthsome light of Jesus Christ shone with all upon the Briton. "And the brightness of that most glorious empire "chased away all savage barbarism from the Briton's minds." "Chased away barbarism" - not so sure about that. There was something going on in the arena almost every day. The army did its drills and weapons training in here. And this is where the award ceremonies and speeches were held. And of course, there were the usual blood-thirsty entertainments. Caerleon would have been a regular date for bands of gladiators touring Roman camps with their wild beasts. Just imagine yourself 2,000 years ago, walls of soldiers baying for contests to start. Gladiatorial combat, bears savaging criminals, horsemen spearing deer, blood on the sand. I've got a long journey ahead of me now to the north and the mountains of Snowdonia. The middle years of Elizabeth I's reign were hardly the most propitious moment for a great British survey. It's true that the theatre flourished and gold rolled in from the Americas courtesy of buccaneers like Sir Francis Drake. But these were troubled times. The picture Britannia gives us, however, is the long view of a timeless land and an old face. Camden believes in an underlying continuity between the achievements of the past and Gloriana, the glittering era of Elizabeth. He says he's "an oarsman who pulls himself ahead while looking backward". Of course, that means he largely ignores the crises of his own times. We don't hear about starvation or plagues or about the execution of Catholics for plots the Queen was convinced were being hatched all about her. In 1586, the year of Britannia, Mary Queen of Scots was implicated in an attempt to overthrow the English throne. Elizabeth had taken to sleeping with a sword beside her bed. None of that in Britannia. Traditionally, there had been two Wales. One ran from the border along the southern rim and up the west coast. Not perhaps a conquered Wales but a country used to living with foreigners. The other Wales was older, Celtic, unbowed and living in the mountains. When he arrives in Snowdonia, Camden is amazed by the mountains. Not having been to Scotland, he thinks they're the highest peaks in the whole country. A Great Britain the most famous island without comparison of the whole world no less needed its own awe-inspiring mountain range. So he christened Snowdonia the British Alps. And it's chucking down with rain and I'm really starting to sense why Camden might have found Snowdonia slightly unpleasant and intimidating. Way up on top of these mountains he says there are pools and bogs, hard rocks and year-round snow. There's a real sense of him putting these mountains on the Elizabethan map, of trying to tame the wilderness. This is Glyder Fawr, 999 metres above sea level at the summit. I want to find out how Camden justified using a grand term like the British Alps. Wasn't he exaggerating just a tad? Here's one of his bogs. Historically, the mountains had been a hiding place for Welsh rebels. They knew all the mountain paths, the caves to hide out in. No army, Camden says, could find its way through. Screes made up of rocks this size are just perfect for breaking your ankle. I haven't had to cross rubbish like this since climbing the Paps of Jura. These must be what Camden called cragged and rent rocks. When Britannia was being compiled, nobody knew that fragmentation of this kind was caused by expanding ice. What happens is that water runs into cracks in the rock like this. It freezes and then as ice, it expands and it prises the rock apart. The whole mountain looks as if it's been hit by a sudden bomb blast but actually, this whole process took place in the final chaotic phases of the last ice age around 10,000 years ago. Up here at 3,000 feet in a 40-mile-an-hour cross wind and driving rain, these rocks are like a steep ice sheet. Every step has to be judged and even with good kit, the freezing cold gets through eventually. Camden was writing during a 500-year climatic era known as the "little ice age." One of the coldest snaps in that era was towards the end of Elizabeth I's reign, between 1570 and 1600, when temperatures plummeted. In London, the Thames froze solid. Camden wasn't exaggerating when he said that the snow lay all the year round up here. This stuff explains why William Camden described these mountains as the British Alps. The other feature of Snowdonia that impresses Camden is the number of pools or lakes. There's one in particular that intrigues him. He says it has an island in the middle, which floats. Well, here's the lake sitting on this vast undulating plateau, and over there beyond those three rowing boats must be the island. Why did Camden think it was worth noting? Was the island an important point on the landscape? There it is! Strange, back there, it looked pudding shape but from here, it's more like a whale. Doesn't appear to be floating though. Since 1536, Wales had been joined to England. A Welsh family, the Tudors, were on the English throne. Leading Welsh gentry were now represented in the English parliament. The English county system had been imposed on the geography of Wales. Wales, in other words, was becoming part of Britain. I'm just wondering now whether the clue to the island is higher up. Now, I've got some height, I think I've solved a mystery of Camden's wandering island. Depending on whether you look at the island against a bay or a peninsula, it appears close to the shore or far from the shore. So as you walk round all these indentations, the island appears to move to and fro across the water. It wanders. Which raises the question, how on earth did Camden know about it? Well, you can see the answer from up here too. Here in the heart of cattle country, three huge valleys all meet. One of them over there, one here and the third of them running inland from the sea, here. The lake would have been a key Elizabethan landmark, a crossing point on a vital drover's route. This was a time when cattle farming here was changing from seasonal grazing to keeping cattle in the mountains all the year round. What an eerie ruin and fairly massive too for a mountain house. Just look at the size of the rocks the walls are built from. And it's surrounded by a pretty sizable plot and the rooms are pretty big too. A tiny window to keep the weather out, fireplace. This was probably a cattle farmer's house. As population soared, so did the demand for beef and it made living high in the mountains worthwhile. Cattle and sheep were crucial to the economy of North Wales and that required good pasture. Reading Britannia, you can't really miss Camden's preoccupation with productive land. Food shortages were not uncommon in Elizabethan times. The 1580s and 90s were blighted by frequent bad harvests and people would starve. So Camden was keen on anything that would improve yields. In parts of Denbighshire, he found what he was looking for. "After they have, with a broad kind of spade, "pared away the upper coat, as it were, "or sword of the earth into certain turfs, "they pile them up artificially on heaps, "put fire to them and burn them to ashes, "which being thrown upon the ground so pared and flayed "causeth the hungry baroness thereof so to fructify "that the fields bring forth the kind of rye or amelcorn "in such abundance as it is incredible." 'So does the kind of farming Camden's writing about make any sense 400 years on? 'I've arranged a meeting with beef and dairy farmer, William Edwards.' Hello, Will. Hello, Nick, how are you? 'His family has been farming this part of North Wales for five generations.' Yeah, we do get a lot of rain up here. It's not going to be sunny today? I don't think so. How many acres in total do you have? About 300 acres. A little over 300 acres at the moment. And is it mixed or mainly grassland? It's mostly improved grassland. Yes, this used to be moorland but started ploughing it in the '70s and clearing the rocks out of it because in those days the in thing was to develop the land, and moorland wasn't much good. And this is pretty typical of the sort of land that we had here. You say you converted that rough moorland into this cricket pitch-style grassland? That's right, yes. That's amazing. Yes, it is, yes. Not encouraged today, mind you. Things have changed a great deal since the early '70s. There's much more concern now about wildlife habitat and this was ideal for hares, skylarks and curlews and that sort of thing, you know. I think that's a skylark, isn't it? Can you see one there somewhere? You can hear it. You can hear it, can you? Yeah. One of the things that William Camden wrote about here, one of the ideas he said was being applied to the land, was that certain turfs were cut from the ground, piled up, set on fire and then the remains were then flayed, as he puts it, and spread back on the fields. What was all that about? I do know that we have a term in Welsh called braenaru, where you skim the turf off. They might have done it on small areas with shovels but they could easily have done it with a plough as well and just taking the crust off and turned it over. They would leave it like that over the winter and that would help it to break up. And then when they wanted to cultivate in the spring, it would be much easier to break it up to get a tilth, you know. Setting it on fire, spreading it on the land would enrich the soil? Oh, yes. I'm sure the ash would have, yes. I'm sure it would, especially peaty land. This looks like the ruin of a house up here, Will. Did you collect all these stones together? Yes, yes, yes. That must have been... As we ploughed, whenever we came to a rock, we would get it out with a digger. Some of them are enormous. Some of them are pretty heavy, yes, yes they are. Massive. What a labour just to create a field. I know, yes, but it's very stony ground, you know, underneath. The understatement of the century! You can't do anything with it unless you get those out of the way. Camden writes that Welsh farmers are famous for their painful diligence and witty industry. Well, you know, you just have to be flexible and adapt to the idea of lifelong learning really. You're a farmer straight out of Britannia. WILL CHUCKLES Am I? Perhaps! Heading east again now out of Wales. I'll be crossing Cheshire and into Derbyshire. On the whole, the Elizabethan authorities weren't keen on the public travelling. The idea of people wandering around the countryside was closely associated with rebellion or vagrancy. So it was discouraged. Homeowners, for instance, could be fined if they allowed travellers to stay in their homes without a licence from the local bailiff. If you did have a licence, you could offer board and lodging. Board being the plank of wood that served both as your tabletop and as a bed for visitors. One kind of traveller that Camden may well have met on the road was Gypsies, or Egyptians as they were known at the time. I'm off to find some caves now, which were once a Gypsy haunt. Gypsies were not well treated by the Tudors. Shortly after they first arrived in England, probably from France in the early 1500s, Henry VIII tried to expel them. His son, Edward VI, had them branded on the chest with a "v" for "vagabond". And old Bloody Mary was for executing the lot. By the 1570s, it was thought there were 10,000 living in England. Queen Elizabeth's view was that provided they stopped wandering the country, gave up their ungodly ways and became loyal subjects, they could stay. Otherwise, she'd put them to death. This was no idle threat. In York, over 100 men and women were condemned to death for no crime other than being Gypsies. It was some incentive to settle down, but many didn't and took refuge in remote spots like this. "There is a cave or hole within the ground called, saving your reverence, "the devil's arse, that gapeth with a wide mouth and hath in it many turnings and retiring rooms. "This hole is reckoned for one of the wonders of England." The playwright Ben Johnson, who incidentally was a pupil of Camden's at the Westminster School, refers to an annual gathering of Gypsy clans down here. It must have been an extraordinary spectacle. The blazing fire, silver smoke, shadows flickering against the rocky walls, the brightly coloured clothes, music and dancing. Not the restrained formalised steps of the Elizabethan galliard, but the wild exuberance of free spirits. I'm on to the last big stage of my journey now. From Derbyshire, I'm going to sweep through Lancashire and up to the Lakes, which Camden visited in 1600. Camden leaves behind the civilised world here and enters the wilderness. To us, these remote parts have a compelling beauty. But they were a far cry from the creature comforts of the Tudor court. To Elizabethans, these would have been terrifying places. Camden describes the area from Lancaster up to Kendal as "wild, barren and uncultivated". Hardly the tourist honey pot it is now. When he finally reaches the Lakes, he gives us a picture of Skiddaw, a mountain of just over 3,000 feet. "As for that mountain, Skiddaw, it riseth up to such a height "with two heads like unto Parnassus." Frightening as a mountain might be to an Elizabethan, the comparison with Mount Parnassus, the home of the Greek muses and, incidentally, twice the height of Skiddaw, makes it into something magnificent and inspiring. A mountain fit for a world famous island. So where did Camden get his view of the great twin-headed peak? I've chosen a little hill called Cat Bells from the Ordnance Survey, which I reckon's worth a try. Climbing this hill in the far north, I have a real sense of what Camden achieved with Britannia. Ben Johnson said his old teacher was the embodiment of humanism, a searcher of truth. And he was the first to describe the entire country in such astonishing detail. Britannia gave Elizabethans a vision of remote parts they'd scarcely heard of. It gave them a pride in their own nation. Wow, fantastic! Just look at that! From up here, the most elusive element of Camden's Lake District makes sense because there is Skiddaw with its twin peaks. He was absolutely right. And he's brought me to what must be the most delightful panorama in England. Thank you, Master Camden. Britannia suggests that most things in Camden's England and Wales are in very good shape. He says there's plenty of food, corn for bread, fish, sheep and cattle for meat. Very good supplies of ores and minerals. The rivers that transport these goods are excellent. If there are problems, the people overcome them. Above all, the country is at peace with itself. Well, it's certainly a point of view, the long view perhaps, reflecting the Elizabethan craving for order. But it glides over troubled waters. The truth is that Britain wasn't so tranquil. It wasn't unified and it didn't share a common purpose. That was all too apparent in Scotland. On the next leg of my journey, I'm going to find out how Camden dealt with the most Catholic, most rebellious part of Elizabethan Britain. Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd.

E-mail 'Here is a broadcast by Tony Abbot, Joe Hockey and Andrew Robb for the Liberal Party for the 2010 Federal Election.' Restoring the budget to surplus by cutting government waste and paying off Labor's debt to put downward pressure on interest rates to help families. That's what we're standing for. We have a strong plan for action to build a strong economy and secure Australia's future. We will manage Australia's economy and finances responsibly and prudently. We will, in fact, take spending back to the realistic and practical levels of the last five Coalition budgets. We will take real action to tackle the waste. The Coalition has announced a responsible plan to pull back Labor's reckless and wasteful spending. The home insulation program was a $2.4 billion disaster that will cost more than $1 billion to fix. The school halls program went $1.7 billion over budget. on a scheme that added up to over $16 billion. And that doesn't include all the cost over-runs of building rip-offs in the BER program. Remember computers in schools? Well, that program blew out by $1.2 billion. And we will all remember the Grocery Choice website.