Take a journey into our ancient past. Explore a long-lost landscape and gradually discover the minds, beliefs and cultural practices of those souls who lived on these lands thousands of years before you.
Traveling the length and breadth of Britain, James Canton pursues his obsession with the physical traces of the ancient world: stone circles, flint arrowheads, sacred stones, gold, and a lost Roman road. He ponders the features of the natural world that occupied ancient minds: the night sky, shooting stars, the rising and setting sun. Wandering to the furthest reaches of the islands, he finds an undeciphered standing stone north of Aberdeen and follows the first footsteps on the edge of a long-lost Ice Age land in the North Sea.
As Canton walks the modern terrain, slowly understanding the ancient signs that lie within and beneath it, he weaves a gentle tale of discovery, showing how, beyond the superficial differences of life-style and culture, the ancient inhabitants of the British Isles were much closer to the present-day one than we might imagine.
Praise for James Canton’s Out of Essex:
‘Some landscapes are silent, others as eager to communicate as the shades in Homer’s underworld. But not everyone has the gift of hearing what they are saying. James Canton’s involvement with Essex is long and deep, and in this book of walking, remembering, and reflecting, he picks up echoes from many writers who are connected to its villages, towns and surrounding countryside. … His pilgrimage to the past is full of surprises and always enjoyable, as he reinvigorates the familiar scene and recovers unfamiliar associations.’ Marina Warner, chair of the Man Booker International prize 2015
‘Canton … is a stalker of literary ghosts, following traces across the Essex countryside that might lead him to the writers who might have lived and worked among these landscapes.’ Times Literary Supplement
‘A work of gloriously mixed genre – part memoir, part literary criticism and part book of place – but it is unambiguously shaped by Canton’s love for the often overlooked landscapes of Essex and the many great words that they have inspired.’ Mark Cocker, author of Crow Country and Claxton: Field Notes from a Small Planet
‘Out of Essex … enlightens the not-so-literary among us, it illuminates Essex in a new, fascinating, light. It offers a compelling read … At times conversational, at times meditative – it is always lyrically beautiful. Canton joins the Golden Age of East Anglian environmental writers – alongside the likes of Richard Mabey and Mark Cocker – and he has done Essex proud.’ East Anglian Daily Times
‘It’s impossible not to be swept along with Canton’s infectious enthusiasm for his quest. Out of Essex is endearing and honest … a refreshing look at landscape through literary history that encourages us to refocus our perspective.’ The Earthlines Review