Grounded is about healing our ruptured connection with our ancestors and with the land
A WATERSTONES BEST BOOK OF 2023: NATURE AND TRAVEL
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.
“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”
mail On Sunday
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“A deep dive into ancient landscapes in search of the sacred. Beautifully written and profound in its insights”
“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”
“A vivid exploration to the hearth-heart of the sacred places of our past – brimming with warmth and gentleness”
“What interests [Canton] above all is British rural sites where the evidence of the deep past still lies on or close to the surface. These are his sacred places, the landscapes in which the world can be felt to be re-enchanted. The most affecting episodes in Grounded are those that evoke a specific and individual sense of the sacred”
times Literary Supplement
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.
@jamescanton | @jrcanton1 | jamescanton.co.uk