About the book
Grounded. A personal journey through our ancient landscapes, and how we can heal our ruptured connection with them and the natural world
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.
Praise for Grounded
‘Intensely alive to the landscape; its pasts, people and creatures’ – Robert Macfarlane
‘A vivid exploration to the hearth-heart of the sacred places of our past – brimming with warmth and gentleness’ – Keggie Carew, author of Dadland and Beastly
‘To know what we are, and so how to behave and to thrive, we need to know where we’ve come from. Canton is an acute, gentle, companionable and elegiac guide through our past – and so through our present and future. He lets the land and our ancestors’ bones speak. Their lessons could not be more urgent or exhilarating. You should join him in this sacramental journey’ – Charles Foster, author of Cry of the Wild and Being a Human
‘Canton’s gift for vivid description makes this journey — this excavation of place and purpose — a captivating and ultimately anchoring one. Grounded is a joyful peer beneath the surface to where our own roots channel those of ancient time: it has brought new meaning to my everyday rituals of walking and seeing’ – Matt Collins, author of Forest
About the author
Dr James Canton is Director of Wild Writing at the University of Essex. He is the author of The Oak Papers (2020), Ancient Wonderings: Journeys into Prehistoric Britain (2017) and Out of Essex: Re-Imagining a Literary Landscape (2013), which was inspired by his rural wanderings in East Anglia. He has written for the Guardian, reviews for the TLS and Caught by the River, and is a regular on television and radio.
Praise for James Canton
‘Canton’s writing has an exquisite, somewhat dreamlike quality’ – Peter Wohlleben
‘James Canton knows so much, writes so well and understands so deeply . . . Knowledge and joy’
– Sara Maitland
‘An enchanting piece of nature writing and a meditation on finding connection in a disconnected world’ – Independent
‘[An] ode to nature . . . In such turbulent times, Canton’s meditation . . . is a reminder to stop, take a breath and take note of our surroundings’ – Radio Times