Impetuous torrents: Scottish waterfalls in travellers' narratives, 1769-1830

Edward Cole

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

Abstract

This paper examines the waterfall in travellers’ accounts and guidebooks of Scotland
between 1769 and 1830. As well as providing easily accessible punctuation points in the
narratives of travellers journeying through the often bleak surroundings of the Scottish Highlands,
waterfalls were central to the main aesthetic categories devoted to interpretation of natural
features in this period, the sublime and the picturesque. With reference to these categories – the
sublime disclosing sentiments of awe, even of terror; the picturesque, detached contemplation –
the paper discusses waterfalls as static objects, and as instances of dynamic processes. Waterfalls
are perhaps the pre-eminent landform for static, picturesque appraisal. At the same time, they are
inescapably dynamic, embodying characteristics associated with the sublime such as multi-sensory
experience, non-human agency, and emotional and affective impact. These latter characteristics
are recognised by recent phenomenological approaches to landscape in human geography, in
contrast with more visual, representational treatments of landscape.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-66
JournalScottish Geographical Journal
Volume131
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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