Colm Cille’s Spiral – a first journey to Bradwell

Colm Cille’s Spiral is a really innovative and interesting project being run as part of Derry-Londonderry’s ‘City of Culture’ year. You can find out more about it here: http://www.colmcillespiral.net/

As part of the project, PHD students from King’s are putting together an event at an eighth century chapel in the middle of a field, over looking the estuary at Bradwell-on-Sea, Essex. The event will be an opportunity to explore new ways of disseminating knowledge gained in the university to the wider public. How can we communicate our research – its importance, relevance, the fun, fascination and findings – through ways other than essays or conference papers?

I’ve been tagging along too, and went to the chapel this weekend to scout out the site. The video I made of the day is below.

I wanted to capture the sensation of journeying through the Bradwell country side – powered only by our own feet – in the sunshine towards this little hut which just seems (to use a cliche) frozen in time. Whilst the landscape looks ‘untouched’, there are signs that big changes have happened: from the power station and windturbines which sandwich the site, the housing estates, the tarmac-d roads. To a city-dweller it feels very rural, undeveloped, but the change over the last 1000 years is clearly massive. The flat land too is now rich pasture for farms: but it too would have been marshy, wetter land once upon a time.

I’m excited to use this landscape to help spark conversations about this murky past, and see what other people think about relics from the middle ages: how exactly do they create meaning now, and can we ever really fully understand this past without involving all our senses? With the language now lost, how do Old English poems make meaning?

Colm Cille blog post can be found here, and a summary by my lecturer here.

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