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PRESS RELEASE: Sacred Land book reveals Britain's secret history

February 6, 2012:

Sacred Land by Martin Palmer is published on March 1, 2012

Sacred Land was plugged on Aled Jones Radio 2 Sunday programme on February 19. Link here for more details

This press release was issued by St Stephen's Church in Bristol, UK

Sacred Land Launch event: Thursday 1 March 6.00 pm

Bristol's parish church, Saint Stephen's, launches Sacred Land, the latest book by Bristol-born religious historian and broadcaster, Martin Palmer, Secretary General of the Alliance of Religions and Conservation. It also announces an exciting new project - the Sacred City Labyrinth - to be built on the floor of the church.

With a foreword by Melvyn Bragg, Sacred Land shows how to decode every aspect of our landscape including the medieval map hidden in a modern city. 

Sacred Land, (published by Piatkus, £16.99), shows, for instance, how Bristol in the southwest of England was planned as a sacred city and laid out as a Celtic cross, with Saint Stephen's as one of the medieval churches in the design. 

The new reredos at St Stephen's
The book was inspired by a conversation Martin Palmer had with a Russian Orthodox priest that changed his view of the world. The old priest told him that Moscow was laid out according to images in the Book of Revelation. And, moreover, every city in Europe built before the 18th century incorporated circles, triangles and crossroads symbolising the Unity of God, the Trinity and the crucifixion. 

As a Bristolian, from a family with a 500 year-old Bristol history, Martin Palmer - who heads the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) based near Bath - looked at his home city through this new lens and found the most astonishing sacred landscape still visible. 

Martin Palmer says: "For decades we have travelled the world to find sacred India, sacred Egypt or sacred China without realising that we walk on sacred ancient land here. This is a guide to rediscovering the stories and beliefs which have literally shaped Britain."

The launch event at 6 pm on Thursday March 1 at Saint Stephen's church, in the old city centre of Bristol, will explore these discoveries as well as show how Sacred Land can be a handbook to rediscovering the sacred landscape, stories and beliefs of Britain. 

Sacred City Labyrinth

Martin Palmer at ARC's nextdoor church in Kelston, Somerset. Photo: Clint Randall
Saint Stephen's City Canon Tim Higgins will introduce the plan to create a Sacred City Labyrinth on the floor of Saint Stephen's, Bristol's parish church. 

City Canon Tim Higgins says: "This Labyrinth will connect the energies of the sacred city with our contemporary life, its personal aspirations and public issues. Martin's new book gives us more of the tools to see our city as it was conceived - laid out on the earth as a statement, part of creation, sharing a greater purpose. This stands in stark contrast to the way planning decisions are made today."

City Canon Tim Higgins adds: "This occasion marks an important publishing event, and a contribution to the vision and value of cities and our sense of creation and a sustainable planet." 

Link here to buy Sacred Land on amazon.co.uk and here to buy it on Kindle. Link here for links to Martin's other books about sacred land, religions and China.

St Stephens is near the centre of the sacred cross of medieval Bristol
As well as an introduction to Sacred Land and Sacred City Labyrinth, the event will also include the latest developments of ARC's Sacred Land Project - including the creation of a national centre for the study of churches and churchyards at Bitton, South Gloucestershire.

Event details: Thursday March 1: 6pm Arrivals and refreshments 

6.30pm - introduction to the Sacred Land Project and book including a film of Martin Palmer 'reading' sacred Bristol.

7pm - How to discover the sacred layout of a church: Martin Palmer 'reads' Saint Stephen's

7.30pm - Canon Tim Higgins announces the plans for the Sacred City Labyrinth (ends 8.30 pm). 

Martin Palmer will be available to sign copies of Sacred Land.

Weather permitting, Martin Palmer will also lead a Sacred Bristol walking tour from Saint Stephen's 4.00 - 6.00 pm, before the launch event. 

Friday 2 March 

4.00 pm -Tea and an introduction to walking the Sacred City Labyrinyth in Saint Stephen's church, led by Canon Tim Higgins, including a short walking meditation in the church. 

Press interviews: Martin Palmer - ARC 01225 758004 or arcworld@arcworld.org

City Canon Tim Higgins - 0780 436 3170 or communications assistant Elisabeth Winkler 0777 399 8642

Notes to Editor

1. Martin Palmer has led several guided tours of Sacred Bristol with Saint Stephen's. He co-founded the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) with the Duke of Edinburgh in 1995. The Sacred Land project was launched in 1997 in partnership with WWF, to protect and restore sacred sites around the world. This book is a companion to that programme. His previous book Sacred Britain (Piatkus) with a foreword by David Bellamy was a bestseller. 

2. Saint Stephen's is known for its radical projects linking art with heritage: its Bristol Reconciliation Reredos altarpiece, unveiled in 2011, was envisioned during Bristol's 2007 commemoration of the 1807 Abolition of Slavery Act. A UK-first for the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Bristol Reconciliation Reredos was also funded by the Bristol Legacy Commission and Bristol Charities. Saint Stephen's held a Citizen's Public Hearing last November to hear people's experience of the 2011 Bristol riots including planning issues around the high street. 

3. Labyrinths are found in many ancient faiths as a guide to meditation and the divine. 



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