Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Town Turns Its Bad Old Days into a Celebration; Life on the Land Was Festival Theme

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Town Turns Its Bad Old Days into a Celebration; Life on the Land Was Festival Theme

Article excerpt

Byline: Dave Black

REVOLTING peasants, hiring fairs and public hangings helped roll back the centuries for visitors and locals as a popular festival took over a Northumberland market town at the weekend.

Life on the Land was the theme of the annual three-day Northumbrian Gathering in Morpeth, which was blessed with glorious sunshine and big attendances which delighted its dedicated band of volunteer organisers.

The grim days of agrarian unrest in the late 18th Century were recalled during the festival - including two special costumed re-enactments of battles involving militia and revolting peasant workers.

Carlisle Park was the scene of the battles, staged by Time Bandits, Northern Historic and Tempus Experientia, who also entertained the crowds with public "hangings" and traditional hiring fairs in the Market Place.

The theme of ordinary people working on the land was reflected in much of the programme for the 43rd Gathering, which included more than 60 separate events and activities celebrating the region's music, song, dance, crafts, dialect and culture.

The town centre came to a standstill on Saturday for the centrepiece costumed pageant, which this year included new artwork representing Morpeth's past as a centre for cattle and sheep trading.

The Border cavalcade, which depicts Lord Greystoke's return home from the 1388 Battle of Otterburn, included performers, local schoolchildren, community groups, banners, giant figures and a cow parade. Other highlights over the three days included actor Ray Alexander portraying acclaimed architect Sir John Vanbrugh, who designed Morpeth Town Hall, a Music of the Shepherds concert, folk dance workshops, storytelling sessions and competitions.

Yesterday's final day included a family concert in the Town Hall featuring Clockworks Folk Band, a crafts exhibition, walking tours and a special showing of Tom Temple's films of Life on the Land. …

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