Iâve just read - or rather looked at - an utterly fascinating book written by Louise Purbrick and photographed by Donovan Wylie. Itâs called âBritish Watchtowersâ and is a photographic history of the infamous and now (sadly?) demolished security towers that so dominated the South Armagh landscape for the last 25 years or so. For anyone thatâs ever lived in one of these places itâll really jog the old memory bank and will almost have you nostalgic for those hot summer days, when you could enjoy a sense of splendid isolation and detachment from the troubles on the streets and in the towns. Of course, if you had the misfortune to police a tower in the bad old days then your memories might not be quite as fond. Anyway itâs a real hidden gem of a book and the pictures taken from the air will give you a whole new sense of perspective and âtime passedâ from when you yourself were out there. The images feel incredibly current, fresh, vital and alive to me as I spent a couple of months in Golf One Zero in 2004 with the RGJ, and the towers and scenery used here are exactly as I remember them. I think the army began compiling an airborne photographic record for posterity in about 2006, just before they all came down in 2007, and that this book was a part of that historic project. The thing that immediately strikes you is just how green, verdant and clear a South Armagh at peace really is â especially when contrasted with the grim, dust-ridden, sandy images that weâre now constantly bombarded with from the Middle East and later wars. It seems as though itâs a land from a bygone, almost innocent rural age, when you compare it to the scorched hellhole of Afghanistan; although we all know that at its worst its capacity for terror stood comparison with anywhere. From the Amazon blurb: Observation, whether by the human eye, or the technical eye of a surveillance camera, requires an architectural structure that elevates the viewer into a position of command. The system of Iron Age hill forts, built across Britain from around 500 BC, used natural promontories to survey the surrounding landscape. Two thousand years later, the British army used a similar system of watchtowers to survey the territories of Northern Ireland, and to observe the actions of the local people under their occupation. The lines of sight from the watchtowers generated a kind of virtual environment enveloping the border region of Northern Ireland. These high tech towers, constructed in the mid 1980Ã¢s, primarily in the mountainous border region of South Armagh, were landmarks in a thirty year conflict in and over Northern Ireland, euphemistically called âThe Troublesâ. The Towers were finally demolished between 2000 and 2007 as part of the British governmentâs âDemilitarizationâ program for Northern Ireland. For over a year Donovan Wylie photographed these towers. Working entirely from an elevated position, enabled by military helicopter, he created a systematic survey of the towers, their positions and perspectives within the landscape. The Amazon link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/3865214991/?tag=armrumser-21 If youâve ever spent so much as a day in an NI tower then youâll get a hell of a lot of pleasure out of perusing this remarkable, historic book â no matter which era of soldiering you belong to.