The personal accounts, journals and letters of early West European travellers have, for many years, formed an important source of information for historians. In this lecture, delivered at New College, Oxford in May 2003, Malcolm Wagstaff examines why scholars have used travel narratives, how they have used them and the types of information they contain. Looking in particular at those who travelled to Greece in the `long' 18th century (1685/90-1830), he addresses the methodological problems in using them as a source, warning that they should not be plundered unreservedly for the data that they contain. Defining the remits of historical geography, Wagstaff reflects on the topics covered by those recording this golden age of travel, including personal observations and experiences of climate, the appearance of places, sites and landscapes, the economy and landuse, administration and routes.
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