Cornerstones, edited by Mark Smalley

“This stirring collection of 22 essays on Earth’s bedrock intermingles geology and our cultural responses to stone, from flint tools and megaliths to Gothic cathedrals.” Nature

“We skim along the tectonic plates with writers such as Sara Maitland, John Burnside and Tim Dee, all gloriously bunched and slammed together by editor Mark Smalley.” ClimateCultures

Stories in all landscapes begin below the surface of the earth. Bedrock speaks first through the variety of soils, plants and animals that live above ground, then shapes the way people farm land, worship their gods and build villages, towns and cities. To understand the distinct quality of any place, first we must peel back the skin of the earth. Adapted from the acclaimed BBC Radio 3 series, Cornerstones invites writers from around the world to consider the ground beneath their feet. Distinguished by a strong sense of place and characterised by close, personal observation, the pieces in this collection take us away from the familiar surfaces of life and express the awe that we feel when encountering the invisible heft, grain and rub of the subterranean world.

Paul Evans: ‘Coal Measures’

Linda Cracknell: ‘Quartz’

Tim Dee: ‘My Rock’

Hardback | 235 x 152mm | 192 pages

Jacket artwork by Rodney Harris.



In stock


Contributors include: John Burnside, Linda Cracknell, Alan Garner, Gillian Clarke, Sue Clifford, Tim Dee, Paul Evans, Rose Ferraby, Alyson Hallett, Fiona Hamilton, Diane Johnson, Daniel Kalder, Jason Mark, Sara Maitland, Helen Mort, Gina Moseley, Sarah Moss, Peter Randall-Page, Ronald Turnbull, Sara Wheeler, Esther Woolfson.

Edited by Mark Smalley

Additional information

Weight400 g
Dimensions152 × 20 × 235 mm

1 review for Cornerstones, edited by Mark Smalley

  1. ClimateCultures

    From our review at – “As the weather up here on the Cumbrian Fells worsens for winter, and the slate on the roof bounces around, I’ve been hunkering down with this deep collection of writings that explore the ground beneath the writers’ feet. Many of the stories in Cornerstones were commissioned for a BBC Radio 3 series, and they all speak to the theme of bedrock. We skim along the tectonic plates with writers such as Sara Maitland, John Burnside, and Tim Dee, all gloriously bunched and slammed together by editor Mark Smalley … I’m writing this a few miles from the remains of Hadrian’s Wall, the surviving rock edifice of a collapsed civilisation. I was delighted to read in Sarah Moss’s piece, Whinstone, that ‘the classical bedrock of English history is as much a thing of flux and mutability as the bedrock of our border’. And her starting and concluding with reflections upon the “firestone far beneath our feet, bubbling and seeping…” is a masterly literary creation.”

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.