‘Intensely alive to the landscape; its past, 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
‘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
This book is 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.
Grounded opens up the sacred spaces of the past and shows us how amongst the frenzy of the modern world we can find spaces of quiet reflection and learn to stop and slow down.
‘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
‘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.’
‘James Canton takes us on a journey through England, seeking to understand what landscape meant to those who came before us.’
‘[An] ode to nature . . . In such turbulent times, Canton’s meditation . . . is a reminder to stop, take a breath and take note of our surrounding.’
Grounded is also in part a personal journey, as James tries to make sense of his father’s death from twenty years ago. As well as the public and ancient monuments he visits on his journey, he also invites us to consider the private markers in the landscape which are sacred to individuals and which connect us to the people from our past.
‘The Stag-Headed Oak’ copyright Lara Kinsey.