What makes England great, has provided the drive to create and lose a lot of pink off the atlas, the attribute that has confused the rest of the world over the centuries, is our propensity for producing nutters. The way in which each generation throws up wide-eyed eccentrics, who understand that despite a lack of knowledge, experience or talent, they really are the people to do something fantastically off the wall and unexpected, and despite the odds stacked against them, do just that.
One such loony-tune, is the sometime popstar, druid and toy collector, ‘Saint’ Julian Cope, who having spent 15 years trying his best to destroy an acid-fried music career, decided that he was the man most qualified to put together the definitive guide to the prehistoric/megalithic sites of Britain. After eight years of travelling the country, this he finally did when the The Modern Antiquarian was published in the late nineties, and quite naturally it became regarded as one of the most complete guides in existence.
The book is mammoth, with the meat being a gazetteer of 300+ sites, but that is only half of the attraction. What makes this truly special and the one book I’ll read for the rest of my life, is the section where Cope outlines his theories on the Romans, Christianity and the myths, religions and people that came before. It is a beautifully off-key and unique book, lovingly produced (though at 400+ pages and coming in a slipcase, perhaps not one for the rucksack if you are going to use it as a guide) and no doubt useful if you want to know the grid reference for a pile of stones in Islay.
Most of all it is utterly barking and clearly the product of an obsessive and damaged mind. Total genius.