Monday, 11 May 2009

Just a Thought

It's the middle of the afternoon and I'm on the way home from Salisbury and have stopped off at Birdlip, just off the A417 in the Cotswolds. There is a viewpoint here from which you can look out for miles across Gloucestershire and beyond, over the Welsh border to the Black Mountain and Hay Bluff.


There are probably about a dozen cars parked up, with people either standing around in the open or looking at the view through their windscreens.

Why are people instinctively drawn to places like this? Was there some evolutionary advantage for our ancestors in wanting to stare idly out across such wide panoramas? Maybe it just gave them the chance to become more familiar with the surrounding territory, or to see their enemies coming.

Is there still anything to be gained today from such seemingly unproductive tendencies? Maybe evolution will eventually update our ideas about what aspects of the world are worth contemplating, and some distant future generation will look at places like this and wonder what the appeal ever was.

1 comment :

  1. What I have also noticed is that these places often don't have an actual name that anybody uses to reference them, and are known simply as "Viewpoint", so you have an entire class of locations subsumed under a single term. It really suggests that it is some very basic function that they serve.

    It's not just a UK thing, either, I've seen the same behaviour in Guatemala and Taiwan. These locations often get used for smoking marijuana and illicit sex, too, as if they are a little further out of reach of the law, a place where you can see everybody else and they can't see you.