Book Review: Underlands by Ted Neild


‘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

Nothing could be colder and more impersonal than a book on geology and nothing could be further from the truth here. We live among the remnants of coal, stone, oil, rock and clay extraction. Our mines are gone, our building stone is no longer local, yet spurred on by erasure – of history and industry – Ted Nield explores the land beneath our feet – our articulate, buried landscape – delving into the history and geology of Britain and into his ancestors’ connection to its rocks, exploring as he goes what the loss of kinship between past and present means for modern-day Britain.

More than a trip down memory lane this is geological, personal, empathetic, sage. Neild extracts from the ground a poetic remembrance of our former relationship to place. Informative, entertaining, thought-provoking, the chapters speak with humanity and humour of the lessons of history and their resonance today.

‘I have been entirely won over by Ted Nield’s manipulation of the subject and the genre. It is a most appealing thing that he has fashioned here full of great charm and humour. Geology is a noble instrument of inquiry and conviction. It 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

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