The Battle of Tempsford
Note for assessors – This post is one of several which discuss and explore my new work. The text in my ‘New Work’ posts demonstrate comprehensive knowledge of professional contexts relevant to my practice. Here is a link to my other ‘New Work’ posts.
Evaluation and reflection –
Visiting this historical site in Bedfordshire proved to be both surprising and intriguing. I knew from my research that a small dry island existed with a moat in the location where King Guthrum was killed during a battle. Unfortunately when I arrived the playing field which accesses the site was locked up and closed even though it is a registered heritage site. Luckily I managed to access the site via a field at the back, I just needed to do a little bit of trekking.
Quite often the places I visit retrospectively have no visible signs of the battle or fortifications. But here I was welcomed by quite significant evidence of a fortification. Simon Norfolk often utilised the ruin as a trope in his imagery made in war torn Afganistan and Iraq. His ‘late photographs’ explore in a pictorial way the devastation of war a short time after the event. I on the other hand am visiting this site more than a thousand years later. It left me thinking what do I photograph? Do I try to evidence the ‘ruins’ or should I try something less obvious? I decided to try and capture the aura of the place by studying the early evening light falling on the old oak trees that stand prominently on the island. These trees signified for me the essence and perseverance of nature. In a place where hundreds of men fought and died a quiet calm has now descended onto this location. Knowing the history of the place allowed me to consider what had happened here and the effects on the local area and the whole country. I believe the Vikings defeat here led to to them eventually being evicted from Britain altogether.
After looking through all the images I made here I settled on the one below. I love the light, the details on the oak tree and in the lower third of the picture the edge of the moat can be seen. The composition hints at the pictorialism that Norfolk is so fond of. I like the beauty of the scene as it is in stark contrast to the horrors that once happened here.