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Not so long ago, our roads, buildings, gravestones and monuments were built from local rock, our cities were powered by coal from Welsh mines, and our lamps were lit with paraffin from Scottish shale. At the height of the empire, British stone travelled across the world to India and China, Sri Lanka and Argentina, Singapore and South Africa. There were thousands of mines, quarries, slag heaps and brick pits across the British Isles. We live among the remnants of those times - our older cities are built from Bath limestone, or Aberdeen granite - but for the most part our mines are gone, our buildings are no longer local, and the flow of stone travels east to west. Spurred on by the erasure of history and industry, Ted Nield journeyed across this buried landscape: from the small Welsh village where his mining ancestors were born and died, to Swansea, Aberdeen, East Lothian, Surrey and Dorset. Delving into the history and geology of this forgotten Britain, and into his ancestors' connection with its rocks, Nield unearths the veins of coal, stone, oil, rock and clay that make up the country beneath our feet, exploring what the loss of kinship between past and present means for Britain and the rest of the world today.
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Journeying across the British Isles and drawing on his own mining and stonemasonry background, geologist Ted Nield unearths the ways in which the rocks beneath our feet shape our lives

About the Author

TED NIELD holds a doctorate in geology and works for the Geological Society of London as Editor of the monthly magazine Geoscientist. He is a Fellow of the Geological Society and a member of the Meteoritical Society. He is the author of Supercontinent (2007) and Incoming! (2011). He lives in London.


"[This book has] great charm and humour... [I was] genuinely moved by its messages... [Geology] can be oracular still, fiercely warning us against the degradation of our planet, and in the hands of Ted Nield it edges its way towards art" - Jan Morris, Literary Review"A poetic remembrance of forgotten time and lost perspectives" - Iain Finlayson, The Times"The ability to see the past and the future is both a blessing and a curse. I found that particularly strong testimony coming from someone who has spent a career in the oil industry - Paul Pearson, TLS"Nield brilliantly explores this underworld of mines, quarries, brickworks and concealed formations to show how much of the character and history of our country is written in rocks" - Richard Fortey"This is an entirely novel, and powerfully illuminating, look at the world literally below our feet and in front of our eyes. Read it and your vision will improve" - Bill McKibben"Expansive and enthusiastic, brimming with insights and extraordinary details, Underlands is a dispatch from the Deep Time of geology. In guiding you through the unseen world below us it delivers what the best books do: a transformation in perspective" - Gavin Francis"Nield's memoir moves seamlessly between personal history, family history, industrial history - and geological time. Underlands will make you see the ground beneath your feet in a whole new light" - Neil Ansell"Nield eloquently explores the foundations on which our cities have been built and the geological wonders that lie beneath us" - Mayfair Magazine"[Readers] will be both informed and enchanted by Underlands, a personal memoir with an important scientific message" - Andrew Robinson, Engineering and Technology"Nield deftly combines geological information, with history, politics, philosophy and personal memoir to highlight the important role geology plays in so many practical aspects of our lives... A great read" - Geoscientist"[A] heartfelt book" - Alastair Mabbott, Herald

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