Search Site
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Cræft by Alexander Langlands

Cræft (edition 2017)

by Alexander Langlands

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
312780,649 (3.81)7
The Old English word "craeft" signified knowledge, skill, wisdom, and resourcefulness. Today, in the wake of industrialization, people are again seeking products made with authenticity -- artisan breads, local honey, craft beers, furniture and other goods made by human hands. Archaeologist and medieval historian Alexander Landlands travels from his home in Wales along the Atlantic seaboard of Europe learning a wide range of traditional manual skills, and searching for the lost meaning of craeft.… (more)
Authors:Alexander Langlands
Info:W. W. Norton & Company
Collections:Currently reading, ebooks, Cover done
Tags:!Po, History, Science:Archaeology, _import200129

Work Information

Cræft: An Inquiry Into the Origins and True Meaning of Traditional Crafts by Alexander Langlands

  1. 00
    The World Beyond Your Head: On Becoming an Individual in an Age of Distraction by Matthew B. Crawford (melmore)
    melmore: Both works address, among other things, the way in which skilled craft is a specific kind of intelligence, different from, but not less than, what we have traditionally thought of as intellect. Both make the case that this intelligence resides in the interface between the skilled worker and the material world on which he or exerts that skill.… (more)

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 7 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
Illustrations would have been helpful or even stills from the Farm series that related to the topic. Otherwise, a solid read. It does help to have watched all the Farm series beforehand so you have a good clue to what he's talking about ( and being able to picture what he's describing). ( )
  pacbox | Jul 9, 2022 |
I'm so delighted that another member of the archaeological team that brought us the British "farm" series is turning to authorship, and doing a bang-up job of it, too. I was initially a little skeptical -- the use of craeft, with it's odd spelling seemed like a potentially pretentious sign. Instead, I found a thorough and fascinating intellectual argument woven through both personal storytelling and thoughtful investigations of how things have been done through history. Thoughtful is a great word for this book -- Langlands does a wonderful job providing a vast historical context, both past and present, and manages to avoid sinking into a quagmire of nostalgia without practical purpose. He also links the evolution of crafts in ways that that I would not have thought of, and offers a lot of food for thought for incorporating this sort of work into modern life. I learned a lot here, and I enjoyed taking my time reading it.

Advanced Reader's Copy provided by Edelweiss. ( )
  jennybeast | Apr 14, 2022 |
This is not craft, this is history of craft and cosplay as a craftsman. I am interested in and respect the Amish and other societies that selectively accept technological progress but the author's objections to modern tools are based on some baseless romantic notions and have sod all to do with craft. ( )
1 vote Paul_S | Nov 27, 2021 |
A frustrating book; the kind that makes you want to say “What a deep insight!” on one page and throw it against the wall on the next. The jacket blurb describes Author Alexander Langlands as an archaeologist, medieval historian, and “regular presenter on BBC”; so far so good. But as we learn through the book, he’s also an avocational farmer.

Langlands praises “cræft”, spelled with the Old English “ash”; the process of doing useful things with your hands in the “traditional” manner. Chapters cover making hay, keeping bees, thatching roofs, masking pots, weaving baskets, and so on. And every chapter is full of fascinating details about how it’s done; making hay is more complicated than just cutting down grass with a scythe; thatching roofs is more involved than just throwing plants on top of your house. These are all things a medieval archaeologist should know how to do, just as a Paleolithic archaeologist should know how to knap flint and butcher a cow with the results.

But it’s one thing to know how to do these things so you can interpret what’s found in an archaeological dig, but it’s another to suggest that it’s somehow “better” that way. This starts in the initial chapter, where Langlands moans peevishly about the difficulty getting his “strimmer” (what would be called a “string trimmer” on this side of the Atlantic) to work, what with mixing the oil and “petrol”, decarbonizing the spark plug, replacing the nylon string, and then still be unable to get it to start. Well, guess what; maintaining internal combustion engines is a “cræft” – see Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. It gets worse; Langlands advocates farmers return to plowing with horse teams, because it’s more “cræfty”; and their dung will fertilize the fields. I think we need Vaclav Smil to do a little input-output analysis on that one. And last, I observe that my copy of this book was printed on a high speed rotogravure press with oil-based inks on mass-produced paper and machine bound, not hand lettered in a scriptorium on vellum using oak-gall ink and a goose feather quill.

No illustrations other than pseudomedieval line drawings leading off the chapters. No bibliography or notes. Perhaps I’m too harsh; there really are a lot of fascinating things in Cræft. But I just get tired of claims that “the old ways were better”; sure, 80% child mortality, serfdom, and now and then burning a witch for a little excitement. ( )
2 vote setnahkt | Nov 30, 2020 |
Almost everything that you buy these days has come out of a factory, probably based somewhere in the Far East and whilst the quality is generally serviceable, it often isn't. Quality has always come at a price, and more people are rediscovering the advantages of using a well-made basket, or correctly balanced tool. Something that has fascinated Alexander Langlands for years is looking at the way that we used to make and do things. As an experienced experimental archaeologist who has appeared on many BBC programmes alongside Ruth Goodman, Peter Ginn running a farm set in different eras, he has learnt the techniques and the ways that they farmed in those days.

His fascination or borderline obsession with crafts of all sorts has led to him considering it in a wider context. He calls this cræft. He considers it more than that just being able to make a useful object with your hands that you can use, it is sometime about technique, using limited resources in an intelligent way. A scythe is a good example. For large amounts of ground to cut, a form of mechanical mower will save you time, but not necessarily money. However, if you only have a small amount of land to cut with a bit of practice you can cut it in around the same time as it would have taken with a strimmer. There are plenty more examples in her, from coracle building, dry stone walls, beekeeping and the alchemy that fire can bring to materials.

A properly made product can last for a decent amount of time, are sustainable in the materials they use and can be readily repaired, unlike most modern things that break too soon, and get slung in the bin as there are no spares. It is an interesting book and Langlands is an entertaining writer. He picks up on the themes in Why Making Things is Good for You by Peter Korn. They are both right about the process of discovering, researching and making an item with our own hands is far more fulfilling that staring at a screen. It does occasionally ventures into hipster territory I think that it suffers from the a romantic view through rose tinted hand crafted spectacles of what was for a lot of people in the past hard and back breaking work. ( )
  PDCRead | Apr 6, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
Langlands, surprisingly unsentimental for someone who made his fame doing historical re-enactments, resists the pull of nostalgia. Yet he makes a persuasive case that the surrender of our lives to machines represents a regression. 'Factory manufacture,' he writes, 'robs us of a special something: contemplation.' He’s not talking about the big questions of human existence, but of the hundreds of small ones that go into something as simple — or as complex — as building a stone wall: 'Which to use? How to work it? Where to strike it?' In the end, this is the case he makes for craeft. At a time where our disconnection from the world around us is not just tragic but downright dangerous, recovering our status as Homo faber, the species that makes things, may be our salvation.
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
First words
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


The Old English word "craeft" signified knowledge, skill, wisdom, and resourcefulness. Today, in the wake of industrialization, people are again seeking products made with authenticity -- artisan breads, local honey, craft beers, furniture and other goods made by human hands. Archaeologist and medieval historian Alexander Landlands travels from his home in Wales along the Atlantic seaboard of Europe learning a wide range of traditional manual skills, and searching for the lost meaning of craeft.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary

Current Discussions


Popular covers

Quick Links


Average: (3.81)
2 1
2.5 1
3 9
3.5 3
4 12
4.5 1
5 7

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 197,687,216 books! | Top bar: Always visible