Britain and Ireland - off the beaten track; Traveller's History of Britain and Ireland, by Richard Muir. London: Michael Joseph. 304 pp. $22.95.
Will all who have visited Stonehenge for the purpose of taking atmospheric pictures and reveling in history, only to find it too crowded with tourists to accomplish either, raise your hands?
Richard Muir has written this book for you. It's a bit hefty to take along in your travels, but it will give you a good armchair trip through British history from an archaeological perspective.
The 54 places on the author's itinerary are not the most famous historical sites in Britain and Ireland. In fact, many are well off the beaten tourist track. Muir has chosen lesser-known and therefore uncrowded spots that will nevertheless give a feeling for the everyday lives of people from the Stone Age to the modern day.
With each site, the author includes directions, a small map, other places of interest in the area, and ''phototips.'' He backs up his hints with his own beautiful photography throughout the book.
But, as much as I like this book and would find it useful in planning a trip to Great Britain, I'm disappointed in Muir's treatment of Ireland. He seems not to realize that the Republic of Ireland is no longer a part of Britain. He even states his overall theme as, ''the British at home.'' His treatment leads to confusion in other spots, such as when he says that there are no cave paintings in Britain. Does he mean in Ireland as well?
Perhaps the greatest disservice done to Ireland, and Irish tourism, is in his otherwise excellent essay on Bunratty Folk Park, when he ascribes the sectarian conflict of Northern Ireland - an area politically a part of Great Britain - to the Republic in the south.