Underland: A Deep Time Journey Summary

Robert Macfarlane
- 2019
This book is good to read when you feel relaxed.

Key Takeaways

  1. The exploration of the earth’s underland reveals the intricate connections between humanity and the geological world.
  2. Deep time is a concept that stretches our understanding of time beyond the human scale, offering a humbling perspective on our place in the earth’s history.
  3. The hidden worlds beneath our feet are as rich and complex as the life above, filled with wonders and secrets yet to be fully understood.
  4. Our actions have long-lasting impacts on the planet’s geology and ecosystems, highlighting the importance of stewardship and respect for the natural world.
  5. Macfarlane’s journey is not just a physical exploration but also a philosophical reflection on the ways in which we relate to the earth and its deep past.


'Underland' takes readers on an extraordinary journey into the earth’s depths, exploring natural wonders like caves, catacombs, and the world beneath glaciers. Macfarlane’s narrative intertwines these physical journeys with meditations on the concept of deep time, the long history of the earth that extends far beyond human history.

Through his expeditions to various underland sites, Macfarlane reveals the hidden ecologies and unseen life forms that exist in the darkness below. His explorations shed light on the ways in which human life is interconnected with these subterranean environments, influencing and being influenced by the geological and biological processes that occur there.

The book also delves into the darker aspects of the underland as a site of concealment and forgetting, where societies have disposed of what they wish to hide or discard. Yet, in these hidden depths, Macfarlane finds stories of endurance and survival, echoing the resilience of the natural world.

Macfarlane’s 'Underland' is a profound and poetic contemplation of the relationships between time, memory, and landscape. It challenges readers to consider the unseen layers of the earth’s past and our impact on its future, offering a compelling narrative that is both enlightening and deeply moving.

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