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Exploring the remnants of Britain’s prehistory

  • Date

    Wed 7 Jun 17

Remnants of Britain’s ancient societies are visible throughout the landscape of our modern world, from Bronze Age burial cairns dotted across the Scottish islands to clues found on the Norfolk coast of an Ice Age land now far under the North Sea.

What these sites tell us about our ancestors and their relationship with their environment is the subject of a new book by Essex wild writer Dr James Canton, who goes on to ask what we can learn about our own connection to our natural surroundings.

In Ancient Wonderings Dr Canton travels the length of Britain to discover the treasures, beliefs and cultural practices of our ancestors. Dr Canton said:

“I’ve long been obsessed with the ancient world and I set out to find the prehistoric sites and phenomena that most intrigued me. The lifestyle and ritual practices of our distant ancestors are fascinating, and many of their concerns mirror ours. For example, death rituals are an eternal human preoccupation and evidence has shown that Bronze Age people in the Outer Hebrides learnt mummification techniques.”

From an undeciphered script on a stone north of Aberdeen to remnants of the Roman road network that spanned England, Dr Canton immersed himself in the geography and geology of the landscape.

“There are still many spots in Britain that are untouched by modern times,” Dr Canton continued. “You can walk the same beaches as our ancestors walked four thousand years ago and the modern world of consumption and digital entertainment feels completely distant.”

Ancient Wonderings is published on 15 June 2017 by William Collins and will appeal to anyone with an interest in our natural landscape and British prehistory.

Dr Canton teaches on our MA Wild Writing, exploring the ties between literature and the landscape.