Wednesday, 28 July 2010

What they were all about

Yesterday evening I saw a trailer for an upcoming BBC2 season on the Normans. Good, I look forward to it - it's one of my periods. But in the montage of presenters one did claim, whilst standing in front of a church, that:
This sort of permanent public art was what the Normans were all about.

'Permanent public art'? The Normans had no conception of the words 'public' and 'art'. Churches weren't equivalent of anything we might think of as public art. But they were built for permanence.

So that's one out of three. Anyway, mustn't jump all over it as it's not often we get lots of history - story-book history, no less - at prime time on a main channel. Fingers crossed that it doesn't sacrifice too much sense and meaning for supposed accessibility.

13 comments:

Mark English said...

Prime time on a main channel: I wouldn't expect too much sense or meaning. Every minute is vetted by a roomful of people selected for their short attention span - isn't that how they do it? Like focus groups for framing political platforms and policies.

Sean said...

Conisborough castle is quite arty in a deathly sort of way. Sort of a Norman Damien Hirst.

Sulci Collective said...

I don't know about art, but weren't all Norman constructions out of their home stone just overtly public statements of power to us Saxons?

Brit said...

The question is, will there be actors pretending to be Normans and shouting "Yaaargh" when going into battle?

Gaw said...

Mark: A few decent things squeeze through. Last year's documentary on the French Revolution 'Terror!' was one.

Sean: Don't know it. And now you're confusing me.

Suici: Yes, they were built, in part, to strike fear and awe into the hearts of a subject population. Something our contemporary artists can only dream about...

Brit: I certainly hope so. I imagine the Anglo-Saxons will have moustaches and the Normans won't.

Sean said...

Sulki nails it.

http://www.conisbroughcastle.org.uk/index.aspx

The inspiration for Ivanhoe.

Gaw said...

Fantastic, Sean. I haven't seen it before. The geometry seems peculiarly threatening. But strictly speaking it's from the Angevin period rather than Norman - the A-S natives had been well put-down by then.

Sean said...

I had the Norman period as the Norman kings, William the Bastard to Richard the 2nd, both house of House of Normandy to House of Plantagenet.

Maybe you have a more "Welsh" view of Norman history and wish to get them out of the way early?

Gaw said...

You're right Sean. What was I thinking? It's usual to airily proclaim that this isn't my period - but I've already given that excuse away, haven't I?

Well, anyway, there's my chances of a researcher's job on any upcoming series about the Normans blown. But perhaps I should be presenting?

Sean said...

Off to the Black Tower with you then (built when I wonder?)

Bring back Potty time, You could be Bentines replacement.

Gaw said...

I must be going mad. I was right first time. The Angevin dynasty dates from the reign of Henry II who acceded to the throne in 1160. The keep of Conisbrough Castle was built in 1180. I can safely return to being disparaging. Phew.

malty said...

this may be of interest to all Normanians, a 10 min walk from my old home in Morpeth, was the regular summer evening venue for No 1 son and myself even though entry was verboten. As a cyclist in the 1950s it was a regular winter Sunday call, we were often chased by the vicar of Mitford church, the castles next door neighbour. The early occupants, the Balliol, gave their name to a sort of well known educational joint.
Northumberland was well and truly Normanated and there are an excellent series of books on the subject by the rev John Hodgson, the vicar of Whelpington called The History of Northumberland. Published in the 1820s they are a fascinating source. Without yer Normans local council street naming operatives would have been knackered, DeMobray and DeMerely St, Ave and Road being as popular as Al & Vicky.

The vicar of Mitford was the rev jack Armstrong who opened every Sundays proceedings with a prayer for Newcastle United.

malty said...

There's more, I omitted to mention the fact that Mitford castle ended up in the hands of the Mitfords, you know, the barking mad sisters Mitfords, one of whom was so dolly dimple she couldn't even blow her own head off. They eventually flitted to Mitford hall, just up the road, who owns the joint today? you guessed it, Freddie Sheppard. From a bunch of toffs to a bunch of tossers.