Over recent years English Heritage, and public archaeology more generally, have eagerly embraced Historic Landscape Characterisation. This alone should encourage us to examine the technique critically, in terms of both theory and practice. This paper argues that HLC exercises have frequently been marred by a failure to engage with pre-existing research, and with wider academic discourses relating to the landscape. It suggests that the approach is essentially technology-driven, and too visually clumsy to adequately capture the subtleties and complexities of the English landscape, and that it is embedded and implicated in wider political agendas concerning regional planning and development which are essentially undemocratic in character. Above all, HLC singly fails in its stated aim of capturing and recording local and regional distinctiveness in landscape character.