Welcome to my first post!
I am researching potential sites for a voice-based sound project, based on sites listed in my English Heritage guidebook (read more). In considering the acoustic potential of various sites, I will approach each from both a listening and a musical / sound-making perspective, including the influence of surrounding sounds. I will investigate the formal and sensory qualities of each site, reflecting on what is known, and not known, about them culturally and historically.
Some sites already have downloadable audio guides created by English Heritage, and I aim for my pilot projects to offer visitors something new to compliment these. As well as being an artist, I am approaching the process from a visitor’s perspective, and these blog entries will reflect experiences of a visit including the weather and the journey on public transport.
Being Bristol-based, I am focusing on the regions of and around Bristol, Gloucestershire, and Somerset. I will select around 3 contrasting sites to work with, creating a range of approaches and methodologies. The image below reflects these initial stages of gathering information from books and online (see references below) in the planning of my field trips.
Longlist of potential sites (visited so far are in bold)
Stones / Barrows
These sites are steeped in mystery, with many details ultimatley un-knowable. I like the idea of working with what is both present and absent at a site – degrees of visibility and audibility. Intriguing features such as pattern or formation, concealment in the landscape, and ‘false entrances’ could interesting starting points for ideas.
Stanton Drew Circles and Cove – Bath & NE Somerset
Stoney Littleton Long Barrow – Bath & NE Somerset
Bellas Knap Long Barrow – Glos
Uley Long Barrow – Glos
Nympsfield Long Barrow – Glos
Hatfield Earthworks – Wilts
The Nine Stones – Dorset
Winterbourne Poor Lot Barrows – Dorset
Remains / Built Structures
These sites offer the potential of physical objects which can echo, project, or bounce back a voice. Bridges have many metaphorical associations, and offer the possibility to include the sounds of water and rhythms of modern day sounds such as traffic. The Fish House was used to store collected fish as payment to the church, which ties in with the Tithe Barn below. The Knowlton church site combines Christian and pre-Christian traces, and the Abbey remains has a particular connection to concepts of early polyphony throughout the traditions of plainchant. A site like Hound Tor offers the chance to overlay the multiple histories of a range of possible residents. It also has an existing downloadable audio tour.
Meare Fish House – Somerset
Dunster Gallox Bridge – Somerset
Hailes Abbey – Glos
Over Bridge – Glos
Abbotsbury Abbey Remains – Dorset
Knowlton Church and Earthworks – Dorset
Sherborne Old Castle – Dorset
Upper Plym Valley – Devon (Dartmoor)
Hound Tor Deserted Medieval Village – Devon (Dartmoor)
The Blackbury site is very close to woodland, which may offer interesting sounds. Maiden Castle has an existing downloadable audio tour.
Blackbury Camp – Devon
Maiden Castle – Dorset
Looking ahead: Potential Sites for eventual larger scale live works
Update – summer 2014 – I have selected to visit the long barrows from the Cotswold Severn set, as well as Over Bridge near Gloucester, and Meare Fish House outside Glastonbury. I chose these as I can reach them in a day and back on public transport, and I would have a good few hours to spend there each time. Also, these offer a range of eras – neolithic, medieval and Victorian, and different sound-spaces and aesthetics – a barrow, a bridge and a house.
English Heritage Unlocked: Guide to Free Sites in Bristol, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire (available from Bristol Central Library)
English Heritage Handbook 2013 / 14 edition