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Grounded: A Journey into the Landscapes of our Ancestors

UK Publisher: Canongate
US Publisher: Harper One

For thousands of years, our ancestors held a close connection with the landscapes they lived in. They imbued it with meaning: stone monuments, sacred groves, places of pilgrimage. In our modern world we have rather lost that enchantment and intimate knowledge of place.

James Canton takes us on a journey through England seeking to see through more ancient eyes, to understand what landscape meant to those that came before us. We visit stone circles, the West Kennet long barrow, a Crusader round church and sites of religious visions. We meet the Dagenham Idol and the intricately carved Lion Man figure. We find artefacts buried in farmers’ fields. There is history and meaning encoded into the lands and places we live in, if only we take the time to look.

Our natural world has never been under more threat. If we relocate our sense of wonder, veneration and awe in the landscapes we live in, we might just be better at saving it.


“Canton evokes moments of vivid experience with unshowy power.”
Wall Street Journal

‘A vivid exploration to the hearth-heart of the sacred places of our past – brimming with warmth and gentleness.’

‘Canton’s research (chiefly in local historical and archaeological records) and his observations, paint a convincing picture of the English landscape and the people who lived in it. He assumes a role somewhere between that of an archaeologist, ghost hunter and pilgrim . . . The past is present in Canton’s writing’
Financial Times

‘A book of ghost trails, burial mounds and crop marks, of stone circles and ancient treasures rising from the soil . . . through his eyes we see the magic of discovery . . . Liminal and lyrical…Canton tries to inspire our sense of wonder at the natural world by offering us these glimpses into the lives of our ancestors.’
Mail on Sunday

Dr James Canton is Director of Wild Writing at the University of Essex. His most recent book, Grounded, was a Waterstones...