The Chinese curse – ‘May you live in interesting times’ – has unquestionably fallen upon those involved in landscape studies, as many papers previously published in this journal attest. Derks' contribution adds an attractive case study, drawn from the Roman world rather than from the more frequently visited prehistoric periods, to this ferment. Derks reviews recent interpretive arguments, before turning to the landscapes of northern Gaul: landscapes in the plural, for in his study area Derks teases out the existence of two zones which develop in distinctly different ways. His major achievement is to divert explanations for this development from the more usual channels of thinking, such as pondering economic and ecological variables, or categorizing areas as ‘Romanized’ or ‘non-Romanized’. His addition of social values and cosmological principles as ‘filters’ helping to determine the trajectories followed by these two zones is bold and, whether or not one agrees with the details of his arguments, his basic contention – that such elements are just as vital as imperial policies and environmental conditions in determining the creation of provincial landscapes – cannot be challenged. I predict that within five years a wide variety of such locally sensitive, landscape-based case studies will be available from across the Roman world, leading to fresh analyses of provincial variability within the empire and to cross-regional comparisons no longer strictly determined by administrative boundaries.