Dan Scott and Tom Adams at The Naseby Battlefield Project

Categories


Project Info


Artists

  • Dan Scott
  • Tom Adams

Partners

  • The Naseby Battlefield Project
  • Arts&Heritage
  • Arts Council England

In 2021, artists Dan Scott and Tom Adams were commissioned by Naseby Battlefield Project to produce an artwork in response to their site as part of the Meeting Point programme. Their new performance work, Panegyric explored the sounds, music and atmosphere of the English Civil War at All Saint’s Church in Naseby.

The artists worked with civil war re-enactors, musicians and local school children to create a dreamlike audio-visual performance, featuring songs and animation, with many of the sounds recorded on the site where the fighting took place.

Artist Dan Scott explained:

“It wouldn’t have been possible to make this work without the input of all the people we met along the way. Everyone, including the school children, was very aware of Naseby’s importance in the civil war and it was amazing to be able to film this and capture sounds on the very ground that the civil war soldiers would have walked on.”

The piece, which includes visuals created by animator and film maker Paul Barritt, takes the audience on a journey beginning at sunrise and finishing at the end of a day in battle. The piece also explore the relevance and resonance of the battle to contemporary life in the United Kingdom.

Sounds that can be heard in the piece include soldiers and horses charging and muskets firing – which was all recreated by members of the Sealed Knot, the UK’s oldest re-enactment society. The voices of children from Naseby Church of England Primary School and Farndon Fields Primary School in Market Harborough can be heard, along with drum rhythms and music that the pupils worked with the artists to create.

Words from the 17th century poem A dialogue between old England and new England by Anne Bradstreet can also be made out, along with music played on snare drums, pipes and a lezard – an ancient woodwind instrument, as well as more contemporary sounds played on analogue synthesisers and electric bass guitars.

The work is named after panegyrics – speeches or verse in praise of something, like the ones often written at the time of the civil war, in praise of either Charles I or Oliver Cromwell.

“As well as capturing the dirt, heat and chaos of battle, and its moments of quiet, we wanted to think about the reasons why people go to war and the fact that sometimes, what you love can lead to conflict – something which is of course very relevant to us all today.” – Tom Adams

Panegyric was performed on Saturday 11 June 2022 at All Saints Church, Church St, Naseby, Northampton.

A&H commissioned a ‘making of film’ for Panegyric, capturing the artists’ process.

In March 2024, the project was extended to include a beautiful new film for our Screening Room Channel: Panegyric.

The artists said:

“We were drawn to the somewhat hidden history of the battle.  It was a pivotal moment in the English Civil War and, arguably, marking the beginning of the victory of Oliver Cromwell’s Parliamentarian New Model Army.  Now it is a field amongst many others that stretch out between Kettering and Rugby.

We were curious about many parallels between the England of the Civil War and contemporary Britain.  We developed our proposal in 2020, when Britain was still reeling in the aftermath of Brexit, and weeks before the outbreak of the pandemic.  We wanted to explore Naseby against this background of contemporary division and fissure, and also, as Covid-19 cases exploded during 2020, to explore how discourses and lived realities of illness, death and decay played out both in Covid Britain and during the Civil War.

The project started with the notion of the PanegyricThis was a form of ballad, often sung, written in praise of a political leader or idea.  During the Civil War era, both in the lead-up to conflict and throughout the war itself, panegyrics were written in praise of both royalist and parliamentarian causes.

Tom and I are both songwriters, and we were very curious about this form of activism through song, and about the notion of praise.  Our early ideas were to work with local community members to develop panegyrics about their life in contemporary Naseby, and for these songs to form part of the project.

We were also drawn to the more ephemeral and ineffable aspects of the Civil War era and how the social, spiritual and national collective consciousness was so different to C21st Britain.  It was a religious war as much as anything, and Britain was a society steeped in arcane beliefs.  It was also an era of heightened radicalism and new thinking.

We wanted to capture something of this strange swirl of ideas and dreams that were rolling around the island.  We found Anne Bradstreet’s incredible poem ‘A Dialogue between Old England and New’, written during the Civil War by Bradstreet. Born in Northampton, Bradstreet moved to America in the 1670s, and wrote the poem to represent and explore the almost apocalyptic breakdown within the country.  Her poem is visionary and vivid, painting a picture of a country broken by difference and disease.  We knew we wanted her words to be part of the work we made.”

The film is now available to view on our Screening Room Channel.

Images from top:

A Panegyrick on Oliver Cromwell, and His Victories: By EDM. Waller, ESQ ;. with Three Poems on His Death. Written by Mr. Dryden, Mr. Sprat, and Mr. Waller. 1709 : Waller, Edmund : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming.” Internet Archive, 1 Jan. 1970

Page:Anne Bradstreet and Her Time.Djvu/104.” Wikisource, the Free Online Library,  Accessed 18 Mar. 2024

Reference material:

Lyrics:

Old England:

Art ignorant indeed of these my woes?

Or must my forced tongue these griefs disclose?

And must my self dissect my tatter’d state,

Which ‘mazed Christendome stands wondring at?

And thou a Child, a Limbe and dost not feel

My fainting weakned body now to reel?

This Physick purging potion, I have taken,

Will bring consumption, or an Ague quaking,

Unless some Cordial, thou fetch from high,

Which present help may ease my malady.

If I decease, dost think thou shalt survive?

Or by my wasting state dost think to thrive?

Then weigh our case, if ‘t be not justly sad;

Let me lament alone, while thou art glad.

 

New-England:

And thus (alas) your state you much deplore

In general terms, but will not say wherefore:

What medicine shall I seek to cure this woe,

If th’ wound so dangerous I may not know.

But you perhaps, would have me guess it out:

What hath some Hengist like that Saxon stout

By fraud or force usurp’d thy flowring crown,

Or by tempestuous warrs thy fields trod down?

Or hath Canutus, that brave valiant Dane

The Regal peacefull Scepter from thee tane?

Or is’t a Norman, whose victorious hand

With English blood bedews thy conquered land?

Or is’t Intestine warrs that thus offend?

Whence is the storm from Earth or Heaven above?

Is’t drought, is’t famine, or is’t pestilence?

Dost feel the smart, or fear the Consequence?

Your humble Child intreats you, shew your grief,

Though Arms, nor Purse she hath for your relief,

Such is her poverty, yet shall be found

A Suppliant for your help, as she is bound.

– from A Dialogue Between Old England & New (1650) by Anne Bradstreet

 

Battle text:

Upon the Enemies approach, the Parliaments army marcht up to the brow of the hill, having placed a Forlorn of Foot (musquetiers) consisting of about 300 down the steep of the hill towards the enemy, somewhere more than Carbine shot from the Main battail, who were ordered to retreat to the battail, whensoever they should be hard pressed upon by the Enemy. The Enemy this while marched up in good order, a swift march, with a great deal of gallantry and resolution, according to the form here inserted. It is hard to say, whether Wing of our Horse charged first: But the Lieutenant-General not thinking it fit to stand and receive the Enemies charge, advanced forward with the Right wing of the Horse, in the same order wherein it was placed. Our Word that day was, God our strength; Their Word was, Queen Mary.

from Anglia Rediviva/England’s Recovery (1647) by Joshua Sprigg 

The vision of the Naseby 1645 Trustees is to enhance visitor facilities with a Visitor Centre that will be an information resource about the Battle itself, the Civil War, the political and social history of the era, the rural environment in the 1600s and what life was like at that time, placing the English Civil War in its proper context in the evolution of modern parliamentary democracy.

The Artist

Dan Scott is a Margate based artist working with sound, performance and listening. His works incorporates film, sound art, music and pedagogical practice. He recently completed a PhD at the University of the Arts in London on listening as an artistic practice. His work often explores collaborative, socially engaged and dialogical modes of making.

Tom Adams is a Margate based composer and theatre maker who is an associate artist of Harrogate Theatre, Omnibus Theatre and Attenborough Arts Centre.

Tom Adams and Dan Scott have collaborated on a number of projects with the most recent being Boat-House-Theatre, a year long project commissioned by ARC Theatre and Tees Rediscovered exploring a long since vanished houseboat community that once existed on the River Tees estuary between Hartlepool and Stockton-On- Tees. Tom and Dan worked with apprentices from Groundworks North East to build a timber structure around a Yorkshire coble fishing boat that they then placed on Stockton-On-Tees High Street for a series of events, including reading by the Tees Women Poets, and a gig-theatre show Tom and Dan wrote about the community and their journey through the project.