Songline for Doggerland

Tickets are now sold out for all four performances.

Following on from the success of “Midwinter Dreaming”, the Bergh Apton Community Arts Team with Hugh Lupton, Charlotte Arculus and Mary Lovett are developing another event. It will be quite different in character but you can be sure it will have its own magic!

Songline for Doggerland will be a performance exploring the theme of inundation.

It is to be performed in Bergh Apton Church on Friday 2nd, Saturday 3rd, Friday 9th & Saturday 10th February 2018.

It has been written by Hugh Lupton (with help from the Bergh Apton community through a series of writing workshops) and is being directed by Charlotte Arculus with musical director, Mary Lovett.

The play will be in three sections.

The first will tell the story of the inundation of Doggerland 8,000 years ago when the melting of the ice-age glaciers overwhelmed the land-mass that once joined East Anglia to the continent of Europe.

The second section imagines the early years of the science of geology in the nineteenth century – a time when Biblical explanations of the origins of the world were being challenged by new information. Questions were raised: Was the inundation of Doggerland the flood that Noah survived? Were the fossil bones that were being found and identified the relics of the drowned creatures that didn’t get onto the ark? What was the timescale of the creation of the world? Old beliefs were being inundated by new facts.

The third section looks at the contemporary threat of inundation: global warming, rising sea-levels, and a new melting of the ice-caps.

The performance will be light-hearted but with serious under-currents. Those taking part include actors, writers, makers and technical assistants. All volunteers will be welcomed.

A5Songline for Doggerland A5 2side flier1

Comments on the excellent workshops follow;

The first three were writing workshops with Hugh on Tuesdays 28 March and 11 and 25 April.

Creative Writing Workshops

First Workshop – 28 March 2017

‘Doggerland’ has begun!

A group of writers met this week with the storyteller, Hugh Lupton, to explore the terrain of Doggerland, the lost bridge between the East of England and the European mainland. A timely encounter one might say, in this week of the inauguration of the long awaited Brexit negotiations!

We were once linked to Europe not just by a tunnel but by a land mass now sunk beneath the North Sea. Hugh Lupton invited us to imagine ourselves back 8000 years and he led us deep into folk memory of creatures now extinct.

Gathered in Pat Mlejnecky’s conservatory nine of us let our imaginations run riot. We roamed the garden, found fossils and other strange natural phenomena and then wove intricate, impossible tales and entertained each other all morning. Hugh held us in check and then finally gave us full rein and we galloped free into our newly reclaimed territory.

The morning ended with a delicious lunch. It was time well spent!

Sophie Saunders

Second Workshop – 11 April 2017

Eight of us sat around the trestle table, with Hugh, buoyed by our first session, ready to learn, to imagine and to write.

The start was serene and thought-filled. Hugh read us extracts from four books, all different, all related to Doggerland, our land to be. Fossil footprints in Europe’s Lost World, more than half attributed to children, set the scene in my mind: a homeland for skilled and inventive people mastering a bountiful but hostile land.

Now for our first challenge. Invent a landmark in Doggerland and give it a name. Write about it for thirty minutes, starting with the words ‘I see …..’

I see a great oak in a forest and a boy. I become the boy, looking up at Child Killer. I start to write. Half an hour later, I tell Sophie my story and listen to hers, slipping into her bird-filled landscape, looking down to the water from the Edge Lands.

All together again, Hugh produced a hand-smoothed staff and a stick of charcoal. ‘Draw a pictogram for your landmark on the stick.’ A series of symbols made their way down its surface. It is transformed, a Shaman’s Story-Staff.

Hugh became the Shaman, beating a rhythm on his bodhran, first steps from landmark to landmark, each of us reading our story at our own special place. The path unwinds before us, from salmon pool to swamp, from the forest to the fringes of a sea. We are treading the ways of our ancestors, wary but at one with a land now lost, its myths in our collective memory the sole survivors.

I have been to dozens of workshops over the years and run a few of my own. This was probably the most fun, certainly the most creative. Best of all (and rare for workshops) we knew we had contributed to the beginning of something special, a journey that will take us and our community to meet our fellows in the lands below the sea.

John Nicholson

Further workshops were held on 15 April and 10 June


These lanterns were made to resemble fossils and will be used to light the path from the Church Field to the Church.

Creating Imaginary Plants from Doggerland with Peter Lyle

Create imaginary plants that could have grown on Doggerland by combining pressed leaves, flowers, seed heads. Strange combinations, something unique & new. Plant materials will be provided but bring your own along too. Get pressing now! And describe what the new plants would have been used for and give them Latin and common names a Daffodolia or a Primercup or……!

The finished works will be mounted and displayed in the Church, during the period of the performances, as if they were pages from a long lost herbarium.

And Now for some responses to the first music rehearsal (11 October) and the great Mundesley Beach Sculpture day.

Doggerland. Doggerland? Isn’t that something I remember hearing in the shipping forecasts on the radio as a child: “Gale force five, visibility nil” and all that? Wait, no; that was Dogger Bight. Of course – Doggerland, as I know from an interest in ancient history, is the name given to the area of land which once connected what are now the British Isles and Continental Europe, today submerged beneath the seas and referred to by some as ‘the Atlantis of the North’.

“Songline For Doggerland” is the title of the new production from Hugh Lupton, Charlotte Arculus, Mary Lovett and Bergh Apton Arts, to be performed this coming February. 

Having had such a great time taking part in the previous “Mystery Plays” and “Midwinter Dreaming”, I tentatively applied for a musician’s role in “Doggerland”, hoping that there would actually be a slot for a folk-guitar player. As good fortune would have it, I got the call – but while I was a couple of thousand miles away, so when I turned up for my first music rehearsal I was a bit apprehensive. I’d managed to download some of the files Mary had put on Dropbox for us, which proved to be quite an adventure for someone as technologically inept as myself, but it all seemed pretty musical for a humble folk-singer to tackle (although I’d managed to get to grips with the Irish bouzouki for “Midwinter Dreaming” – but that’s another story).

I’d only had time for a couple of listens to one of the pieces, but fortunately turned up early at the Meynell’s house on 11 October just as Mary herself was arriving, so was able to have a quick run through of one of the other songs with her, figuring out the chords fairly quickly, which was some achievement on my part since Mary was playing the ukelele!

Settling down with a mug of Christopher Meynell’s welcome coffee (having audaciously requested a second), I resolved to relax as the other musicians arrived: Sue on flute, Linda on bodhran, Warwick and Carrie on violin and Louisa on accordion, and with Mary on piano, directions and explanations, we began to rehearse the tunes. I needn’t have worried; I was able to establish the guitar parts surprisingly quickly as we tried out, tested and reworked the songs all within just two hours. The results were more than satisfying: the material really is superb and a joy to perform.

From the moment I saw The Beatles’ first television appearance as a 10-year-old I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up: a member of The Beatles – but failing that, a singer-guitarist in my own right, at least. It eventually came about that I enjoyed a career as a solo musician for some years but I always hankered after playing in an acoustic ensemble of some kind. I managed to realise that ambition in “Midwinter Dreaming”, thoroughly enjoying being in the minstrels’ gallery for that production, but a little sad when it was eventually all over. But now we’re back on the road! And playing such wonderful material too. 

It’s an honour to be a small part of this venture, being in such professional and talented company. I might not be in The Beatles after all but this is pretty well the next best thing as far as I’m concerned. And that’s just the musical side of things. “Songline for Doggerland” is clearly going to be brilliant. Don’t miss it, folks. Just don’t miss it!

John Sayer

Sand Sculpture Day with Liz McGowan Sunday 15th October

We arrive on Mundesley beach to a hubbub of activity, much shovelling, buckets full of sand, a multitude of wheelbarrows and a rather cryptic looking grid scored into the wet sand.

We are here to help make a giant sand sculpture which will be filmed to form part of the scenery for the Bergh Apton community play. The play explores Doggerland – the land bridge that existed between Great Britain and Continental Europe during the Mesolithic period.

We say hello to Liz McGowan who is orchestrating the day. Along with some of the others, she has been on the beach since 8am laying the outline and preparing the space so the whole thing flows effortlessly when thirty people all turn up at once to ‘help’.

The sculpture is to be of a figure reaching for the sun, and a seal diving into the sea. Our creation will be filmed as the tide comes in and washes it away, just as the sea inundated Doggerland around 8500 years ago.

The outline has been carefully calculated and laid out to take account of perspective. From the ground, the seal has an enormous head and tiny tail and the figure has a tiny head and huge feet. But viewed through the camera on the top of a ladder, it is all in perfect proportion.

We get stuck in, loading up buckets of sand, spreading and sculpting between the lines. We chat and share snacks. There is also time for everyone to discuss preparations for the play itself, ideas and details are swapped with the sun on our backs and sand between our fingers.

Then it is off to do a spot of beach combing for stones and seaweed to add the final touches, taking the opportunity to dip our toes in the sea and take in the glorious day. We leave just after lunch, with the final smooth over and decoration well underway.

Later, at home, the sun sinking and the day drawing in, I look at the clock and remember that the purpose of making the beautiful piece of art today was, of course, to let it go. What a fitting activity for Autumn, the season that teaches us the beauty of letting things go.

Soon the tide will be up and will wash away our day’s work whilst the camera rolls. Nothing will be left. Except the lasting inspiration of a beautiful day spent creating together, with the earth and the sea, the fresh air and the sun.

Anna Meynell

Perfect sunny weather for a day on Mundesley beach; way along the sand a group of people and a stepladder were sighted. It was 10.30am and Liz McGowan already had the design drawn, the area defined, wheelbarrows at the ready. Teams set to with a will digging and carting buckets of sand and shaping the figures with hands then plastering trowels. Smooth and complete the mystical human and seal took form, with gathered and sorted stones for eyes and flowing kilt and seaweed for hair. The sand all around was raked in waving lines and the camera up the stepladder recorded as the figures waited the obliteration of the rising tide.

We waited too, the tide was laggardly, a seal poked up its head, curious, dogs were encouraged elsewhere, shadows lengthened, slowly the water rose.

Pippa Thurlow

The Making of the Doggerland Seal

A small workshop was held at Bergh Apton Village Hall on Monday, 6 November to create a seal that would swim through the church during the performances of Songline for Doggerland. Ably guided by Kate Munro three teams set about making a seal out of willow and stockings. Suzanne Bryant and Rosa Bryant-Whitby made the head, Pat Mlejnecky and Peter Lyle made the body, and Avis Judd and Peter Sunderland made the tail and fins.

The Rehearsals Begin!

On Friday, 10 November, Charlotte, Mary and Liz met with the core team along with two musicians, Judith Goodman and David Ross, who will be creating sound effects and have composed special music for the play, at Bergh Apton Church to run through ideas for the play and to test out how things might work. Judith and David treated us to a run through of the mesmerising material they have composed, using slide guitar, mouth harp and other arcane instruments. It was a long and productive day and left us all feeling very excited about the weeks ahead.

Music Rehearsals

Acting Rehearsals

Dress Rehearsal

Performance Pictures