Partners: Lancashire County Museum & Environmental Services; Padiham Archives; Slaidburn Archives; Pendle Heritage Group; Brennand’s School, Slaidburn; Padiham Green Primary School; Quernmore Community Primary School; Stepping Stones Nigeria; LICA; Louise Ann Wilson Company; Writes & Sights, Carol Ann Duffy & Stephen Raw.
Green Close decided to use the 400th anniversary of the infamous Lancashire Witch Trials of 1612 to explore this history and what it means to people today.
Our knowledge about the trial held at the Lancaster Assize Courts in Lancaster Castle is due mostly to the diligent note taking of the Clerk to the court, Thomas Potts, whose accounts enable us to understand that this was one of the biggest public hangings ever held in Britain, and this dark history involved child witness manipulation, scapegoating and persecution.
Working with Lancashire County Museum Services, local history groups, schools, human rights activists and members of the public we delivered an extensive engagement programme that attracted nearly 2,000 participants and an audience of 68,000.
Expert historians Dr Robert Poole and Dr Colin Penny worked alongside artists and communities who researched this history and chose to examine the imagined route the accused may have taken from their homes in Pendle to their fateful end in Lancaster.
Over the year long project, a new walking route was established The Lancashire Witches Walk – a 52-mile long distance walking route exploring some of the most breathtaking scenery to be found in the North of England. The Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy penned a new poem for the project, which thanks to the creativity of textual artist Stephen Raw, now resides along the route as cast iron Tercet Waymarkers. Walkers can take rubbings from each Tercet as they travel along the route and collect the poem as a legacy to the project.
Wrights & Sites realised a new work Signs & Wonders; including walking works performances and public interventions in both Pendle and Lancaster. We awarded Helen Saunders an early career commission to produce a series of new artworks utilising photographic montage techniques. Our programme also commissioned Louise Ann Wilson Company to produce Ghostbird, a site specific installation set in the Bowland Fells drawing parallels with the persecution and plight of the rare hen harriers nesting there and the frailty of life https://louiseannwilson.com/work/ghost-bird
Children and young people were a big part of the programme and over 90 young people creatively explored what this heritage was and what it means to us today.
Scapegoating and child witchcraft accusations exist across the word today and we were pleased to partner with the charity Stepping Stones Nigeria – now known as Safe Child Africa http://www.safechildafrica.org/ to raise awareness of the global nature of witchcraft accusations today
Watch the documentary film of the project created by Adam York Gregory here