Of all Fay Godwin's photographs, there is none which more quintessentially represents longstanding British tradition of viewing the land while manifesting the appearance of its subject at the moment of taking. (see Moonlight, Avebury, 1974).
This photograph, in particular, demolishes at a blow the urbanite's notion that the works produced by William Blake, Sanuel Palmer, Edward Calvert and the rest of the Brotherhood of Ancients were, even in their own day, an exaggerated form of special pleading in the face of early industrialization;  idealized and romanticized beyond relevance to the issues of the real world.  For here it all is, not far off two centuries later, the moon and the stone;  the flock and the trees;   the dwellings tucked down, inconspicuous yet through their occupants vital to the organization, organization in the sense of organic patterning, of everything else present in the picture.
Avebury is one of the ancient centers of a part of Britain whose antiquity, or let us say, whose continuity of human usage remains palpable in marks on the land with origins stretching back to prehistoric times;  and whose earth forces, many claim, are still perceptible as leylines connecting centers such as Avebury and Stonehenge with myriad others across the islands.  This part of the country is indeed one of the main sources for the reports of phenomena that resist mundane explanation, such as UFO sightings, crop circles and like events.  Whether or not one's tendency is to dismiss speculations on such matters as ridiculously prescientific and downright superstitious, it would be an unperceptive visitor indeed who did not recognize the character of atmosphere that even today survives the worst tourist onslaught, to confer a unique presence upon Avebury.
Equally, it is a notable achievement by Godwin, employing her disciplined processes of photographic documentation, to have succeeded in representing the nuances of that presence in a single print on the wall;  or even more so, in allowing us to retain them at the further remove of a book, however well produced, as indeed Land is.  Top speak of photography in terms only of resolution, of information density, of tonal range, is to suggest a determinate activity that shows without comment.  Perhaps, in relation to straight photography, to the unmanipulated image, that has to be true.  Perhaps, given that this photograph, with its delicately interwoven truths, so clearly echoes the presence of the land at Avebury, it is the balancing of the determinate, of the concrete, in their many aspects, to an accuracy and a subtlety that defy definition, which indicates one of the doorways through which photography is enabled to pass from the ordinary to the magical, and is exactly the measure of  Godwin's attainment.
Until recently, the view thus far formulated, or something like it, would have done as basis for a judgment of Godwin that accepted her work at face value;  as photography excellently located within the tradition of aesthetic landscape.  Thus, pointing to a concept of the photographs as bounded by the notions that they are historically informed, visually refined and of a poetic which reflects the spirity of place.  Another cast of mind, seeking for a judgment of a more cynical nature, might perhaps see Godwin as someone working, wittingly or not, towards support for the less favorably perceived consequences of the heritage industry, that is to say, for denial by concealment of the transformation, commercialization and eventual erosion of the places it professes to nurture.  After all, Avebury may be less ground down and fought over, especially in the literal sense, than Stonehenge, but it still incorporates museum, restaurant and other facilities that are not even hinted as in the photograph;  though any who might seek to use such arguments against Godwin's work should be aware that Land also assembles imagery very different from Moonlight, Avebury, dealing with issues of exploitation and industrial damage;  albeit with the possibility of a suggestion, in the way in which the material is associated, that all things pass, and that the land will heal.
It is only in the context of the 1990 book, Our forbidden land that everything becomes absolutely clear and incontrovertible.  Godwin's work there is an unequivocal, impassioned account of the effects of the closure of vast tracts of countryside for commerical, venal reasons, such as the rearing of animals and birds merely to shoot them.  We see the final logic of the Highland Clearances, in concert with the destruction of the land by those who occupy it without regard for their longer-term responsibilites for its stewardship, on behalf of the wider population now, and in the future.
At a stroke, Godwin has changed the context in which her work is to be seen.  She has done it retrospectively, as well as prospectively, for Our forbidden land makes it impossible that we will ever be able to look at any of her photoraphs again without being aware of the passion which informs her output.  Nothing is lost of the beauty and subtlety of the Avebury half light:  if anything, we gain intensity, for the experience of the new work makes us savor the photograph of that unsullied moment, down to the last detail, obsessively, noting how it was, hoping that it still is, and praying that it yet will be;  despite the worst efforts of the barbarians, more often witless than unwitting, whom Godwin now reminds us are surging round the gate.
Whether events turn out so that we may continue to see this image as an outburst of lyrical praise for our iheritance, and was song raised in its defence, or whether eventually we must recognize it an an elegy for the passing of that which can never be regained;  the connectiion between Godwin's vision and that of William Blake and his friends is made clear.  They and we have the same battle to fight.  The difference is that the outcomes they predicted, are now movintg towards completion at a landslide rate.  How many more Aveburys will be there, perfect under future moons:
The answer to that question depends in part upon the extent to which her viewers allow themselves to understand how Godwin has completed the picture, and respond with sensitivity to the education in the politics of land use which she so powerfully offers them though her photographic vision.
Philip Stokes, essay in St James Modern Masterpieces, 1998