A series of interlinked talks, readings, and interviews taking their cue from their surroundings: Calderstones Park, the carved neolthic stones which give the area its name, the City of Liverpool, the county of Merseyside and beyond.
SPEAKERS AND TALKS
(all times are approximate only and subject to change before, or on the day)
John Reppion author of 800 Years of Haunted Liverpool (History Press, 2007), Sherlock Holmes - the Liverpool Demon Dynamite Entertainment, 2013), and various articles on Liverpool's hidden, forgotten, and re-imagined history.
1. 10 am - Invoking the Spirits of Place: stories are embedded in the world around us – in metal and brick and concrete and wood, in the very earth beneath our feet – both literally and metaphorically. Our history surrounds us and the stories we tell, true or otherwise, are always rooted in what has gone before.
Gill Hoffs recently appeared on BBC's "Coast" and is the author of several hundred short stories and nonfiction articles as well as Wild: A Collection (Pure Slush, 2012), The Sinking of RMS Tayleur: The Lost Story of the 'Victorian Titanic' (Pen & Sword, 2014, 2015), and the forthcoming The Cowardice of Captain Stinson: The Lost Story of the William & Mary and How 200 Victorians came back from the Dead (Pen & Sword, 2016).author of The Sinking of RMS Tayleur: The Lost Story of Liverpool's 'Victorian Titanic'.
2.10:35 am - The Lost Story of Liverpool's 'Victorian Titanic: The wrecking of the RMS Tayleur made headlines nearly 60 years before the Titanic. Both were run by the White Star Line, both were heralded as the most splendid ships of their time - and both sank in tragic circumstances on their maiden voyages. Come along to find out why the Tayleur sailed into an Irish cliff with the loss of more than half the people on board, why only 3% of the women and children survived compared to almost 60% of the men, and what happened to the mysterious orphan known as "The Ocean Child".
11:05 - 11:20 am
Gary Budden a writer and editor based in London. He is co-founder of independent publisher, Influx Press and editorial assistant at Unsung Stories. His fiction and essays have appeared in Structo, Galley Beggar Press, The Lonely Crowd, Gorse, Elsewhere Journal, Unthology and many more. His pamphlet 'Tonttukirkko' was published by Annexe in 2014, and his story 'Saltmarsh' was shortlisted for the London Short Story Prize 2015. He writes regularly for the website Unofficial Britain, and blogs about landscape punk and more.
3. 11:20 am - Re-enchanting the Parkland:The landmarks of the Calderstones and the Allerton Oak show how history, both communal and prosaically personal, mixes with our shared mythic reality. Through the lens of landscape punk, we look how engaging with the nexus points of place can become an act of re-enchantment.
12:00 - 1 pm
Adam Scovell author, journalist, musician, and film maker, with a passion for Folk Horror, Landscape in Film and Literature, and Film Music And Sound Analysis.
5. 1 pm - "Wryd Wirral" - The Strangeness Of A Peninsular Landscape: The Wirral peninsular in the North West of England is the ultimate liminal landscape: it sits very earnestly between a diverse range of topographies, drawing upon the urbanity of the city of Liverpool and the Mersey, the rural climbs of Wales and the Dee and the ancientness of Cheshire. This was the place visited by Sir Gawain on his travels to fight the Green Knight; a place where the impossibly old lies under the surface in ways far more subtle than more typical antiquarian realms. This paper will explore the strangeness that such a landscape can produce in the arts, making unusual connections between the heritage of the peninsular and a number of "wyrd" works in film, television, music and literature.
INCLUDING A SPIRITS OF PLACE EXCLUSIVE:
Premier screening of Adam's latest film
Kenneth Brophy AKA The Urban Prehistorian - also the name of Kenny's blog dedicated to recording his experiences of prehistoric sites and monuments found today within in urban contexts. He is the author of Reading between the lines: the Neolithic cursus monuments of Scotland (2015, Routledge).
5. 1:35 pm - Spirals in the City: Prehistoric Rock-art in Urban Places: The Calderstones is one of many megalithic prehistoric monuments that survive today in Britain’s urban landscapes. The current location of this monument, reconstructed within a pagoda, fits well with the fate of all urban megaliths, almost always subjected to a variety of well-intentioned interventions in the face of urbanisation that have led to weird juxtapositions between ancient and modern. These processes usually create hybrid monuments, neither of the past nor the present. For instance the remarkable prehistoric rock-art on the Calderstones is perhaps the most puzzling and anomalous aspect of this altered and ruinous tomb, but also the most authentically prehistoric thing in the greenhouse. Yet this is not an isolated example. In my talk I will explore other places where this weird collision between analogue rock-art and modern urban spaces has happened, notably Glasgow where a series of rock-art panels – most famously the Cochno Stone – have been found with equally tortuous and traumatic modern biographies as the Calderstones. The ways that these sites have been treated can tell us a lot about modern attitudes towards prehistoric anomalies in our urban places and suburbs.
Dee Dee Chainey With a background in heritage education, Dee Dee is a writer and workshop facilitator fascinated by how stories of past and landscape can be used to promote creative engagement with place within local communities. She is the co-host of #FolkloreThursday, a community hastag on Twitter.
8. 2:10 pm - The Calderstones Through History and Imagination: The Calderstones have stood in Liverpool's soil for nearly 5,000 years, yet they are only now beginning to play a central role in the city's wealth of cultural heritage. Today we celebrate their history, along with the other megaliths that standin the landscapes of Britain and the Atlantic Facadeas markers of place, ownership, and identity, and we can use these to reconstruct what the Calderstones might have looked like when the tomb was first built. Since the megalith builders and their origins were forgotten, surrounding communities created stories around the tombs to explain them: stories that underpin their mystery, their magic, and their vital role in the lives and minds of the people living nearby through folklore and myth, from beds for the fairies to stones dropped by giants as they stride across the land. Archaeology now helps to uncover the ideas that could have led to the tomb's creation, and we can look toethnography to explore the rituals that might have taken place inside the Calderstones, in the shrouded past of our Neolithic ancestors.
2:40 - 2:55 pm
Richard MacDonald Heritage Stories Maker at the Reader Organisation, Calderstones Mansion and Blue Badge qualified tourist guide.
9. 2:55 pm - “Here and there and ill-turned scroll” – The Calderstones outside of Prehistory: The Calderstones are rightly considered to be one of the most important prehistoric monuments in North Western Britain. Since the early 19th Century antiquarians, and latterly, archaeologists have studied these stones in depth. Unsurprisingly these studies have focused on the prehistoric context of the stones with very little said about the 3000ish years after the monument fell into disuse as a place of burial. Richard is aiming to explore the ‘modern’ history of the Calderstones and see how different people at different times viewed them and how those interpretations have shaped the development of people’s ideas of the stones, their relationship with them and the physical environment of the area.
Ian 'Cat' Vincent is a lifelong student of the occult, and a former paranormal protection consultant. In recent years he has turned his attention to Fortean journalism, with a focus on examining the rise of 'hyper-real' (fiction-inspired) belief systems and other pop-culture manifestations of the occult. He was one of the earliest journalists to write in depth on the Slenderman phenomenon. His writing has appeared in Fortean Times, the American college text Apocalyptic Imaginary, a monthly column at Spiral Nature (spiralnature.com) and the Darklore anthologies, and he is a a contributing editor at The Daily Grail (dailygrail.com). He has lectured on subjects including Slenderman, the life and works of Robert Anton Wilson, the fictional roots of modern paganism and the Westernisation of Eastern beliefs at a range of venues including the Senate House Library, the University of Leicester and the Royal College of Art. His first book, New Gods and Monsters, on the evolution of pop culture belief systems, will be published in late 2016 by Daily Grail Publishing. Ian is a Fellow of The Institute of Atemporal Studies. He can be found on Twitter @catvincent.
10. 3:30 pm - Where The Buddleia Grows: Magic thrives in places of liminality: border points, junctions, crossroads - places which are, as they say in Yorkshire, neither summat nor owt. Although all places have a specific local flavour or ‘energy’ to them, there are also areas of commonality between certain aspected sites: as well as the chain stores and franchises reminiscent of our late capitalist world, there are also areas sharing a connectivity which is not deliberately constructed. In urban magic, the most useful of these are often the places behind the scenes of everyday life - back alleys, under bridges, the nooks and crannies. In many of these places, the line between constructed and ’natural’ is often blurry… though nature always finds a way to break through. Ian ‘Cat’ Vincent takes a look at these places and their power from his perspective as a Fortean journalist, and a practitioner of urban magic for over 40 years.
Ramsey Campbell "Britain's most respected living horror writer" (Oxford Companion to English Literature). "Future generations will regard him as the leading horror writer of our generation, every bit the equal of Lovecraft or Blackwood" (S. T. Joshi). Ramsey was awarded an Honorary Fellowship from Liverpool John Moores University in 2015.
11. 4:05 pm - Creatures of the Pool: Ramsey will be interviewed about the influence and use of Liverpool and Merseyside in his work. From the alternative Liverpool of Brichester, to the murderous Merseyside of Secret Story, to the Lovecraftian Liverpool of Creatures of the Pool and The Kind Folk, and beyond.