The 2010 issue of the UK passport contains imagery of different ‘landscapes’ of the UK. They are named on the pages - ‘Coastal Cliff’, ‘Fishing Village’, ‘Village Green’, ‘Canal’, ‘Woodland’, ‘River’, ‘Moorland’, ‘Mountain’. The only signs of human inhabitation in the passport are the villages, and the row of quaint stone cottages that creep anciently across the inside front cover. There’s no sign of the environments that the 83% of the English population living in urban areas inhabits1. Is a cityscape not a landscape?

Jungian psychology contains the concept of archetypes - primordial, there-from-birth concepts that await activation in the world and are shared universally among humans. They crystallise through experience and culture into archetypal images such as the mother, the maiden, the trickster and the wise old man. I have wondered if we might also speak about landscape archetypes - ocean, forest, desert, mountain - as concepts which are universally recognisable and can carry a consistent core across cultures. Well, perhaps not as universal as Jung envisioned, but enough to reliably communicate ancientness and magic (the forest), the cruelty of nature (the desert) or the power and awe-fulness of the earth (the mountain).

The choice of landscapes by the HM Passport Office was surely deliberate - an emphasis on the coastline (4 of 13 images) to symbolise the romantic and individual nature of Britain, perhaps, and pastoral scenes (e.g. the village green) to evoke peaceful tranquility. If we could say that these are archetypal landscapes in the UK (but not universally), I wonder how much landscape archetypes like this shape conceptions of national identity. After all, they have been chosen to represent it in the principal document of citizenship: the passport. I wonder how much the disjuncture between the idea of the nation and the reality of the nation (to return to statistics, only 17% of the population of England lives in rural areas2) has contributed to the UK’s current identity crisis.

Page 13 of my passport: ‘Fishing Village’
1., Rural Population and Migration Statistics, January 2020 Report, <> [Accessed 9 March 2020]

2. Official statistics for the whole of the UK are not available, but according to the Scottish parliament the proportions in Scotland are also 83%/17% <>
In Northern Ireland, 37% of people live in rural areas <>, and in Wales, 35%