Sunday, 25 September 2016


Glen Coe

Glen Coe

An epic drive back from Drimnin was broken by a geocache stop at beautifully grim Glen Coe. Apart from the brutal massacre of Glen Coe in 1692 (in fact three simultaneous slaughters in different locations along the Glen), the site it also familiar to film location hounds: (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkeban, Skyfall and Monty Python and the Holy Grail.)
Skyfall, The Massacre at Glen Coe by James Hamilton, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkeban and Monty Python and the Holy Grail locations

Inveruglas and Hermitage Castle

Pretty Inveruglas where we later stretched our legs and had a cuppa had a view across Loch Lomond with an imposing hydro-electric station as a backdrop. Hermitage Castle was a further stop just before the Scottish-English border where ghostly memories of Mary Queen of Scots haunted the massive monolithic castle and chapel.
Inveruglas and Hermitage Castle

Bishop Auckland, near Durham – The Eleven Arches Company and Kynren

Our final stop before heading for home was an extraordinary event in the shadow of Auckland Castle. Around 1000 volunteers on a 7.5-acre site took part in a £30m specatacular pageant of the history of England. We were in an audience of 8000! Jonathan Ruffer, a city hedge fund manager, philanthropist and art collector grew up in the north and was inspired to spend some of his fortune buying the castle and some important art works and then investing in restorations and in this theatrical enterprise. The script focused on the history of the North East and the style of the show is influenced by the Cinéscénie at Puy du Fou in France. Jonathan Ruffer has managed to create an astonishing infrastructure of parking, food and drink stalls, toilet facilities and dazzling flower-strewn walks down to a state-of-the-art 8000-seater performance arena (the Tribune) with hydraulics, pyrotechnics, hundreds of costumes, props, sets and those unbelievably well-drilled, well-choreographed volunteers.

Kynren, the flower meadows walking down to the arena and, in the centre, philanthropist and creator of Kynren, Jonathan Ruffer with the Chief Executive of Eleven Arches, Anne-Isabelle Daulon

How was the Kynren experience?

The nearest thing I’ve experienced to Kynren is watching a big Disney show in America, but in Kynren’s case there were more people on stage – and they were all local amateurs! There was a true sense of Kynren (a word that means generation or community or kindred or family.) A cavalcade of English history paraded in front of our eyes:
  • Romans
  • Vikings
  • King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table
  • St Cuthbert and the Lindisfarne Gospels
  • the Normans at the Battle of Stamford Bridge
  • a medieval festival
  • the Battle of Neville’s Cross against the Scots
  • Henry VIII and the Field of the Cloth of Gold
  • Elizabeth I and Shakespeare
  • Charles I’s beheading
  • the Georgian Renaissance
  • the Industrial Revolution (especially an astonishing steam train and a moving account of the Trimdon Grange mine disaster)
  • Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee
  • the Christmas Truce in World War One
  • the Roaring Twenties contrasted with a Miner’s Gala
  • World War Two’s “Finest Hour.”
A young Geordie boy Arthur was whisked through time by Bishop Hensley Henson; water fountains suddenly revealed a ghostly projection of Durham cathedral’s arches; thundering horses with knights charged across the backdrop; cows, horses, sheep, goats, ducks and geese joined in the action; the Glastonbury Holy Thorn emerged out of the water like Excalibur. The script was sometimes a bit hard to follow, partly because the ever-changing spectacle meant it was hard to “keep up.” Filmic music by Nathan Stornetta and jaw-dropping lighting effects gave the whole event a rousing and emotional core which was impossible to resist. The plan is to revive the event every couple of years and I for one have signed up on the website for future updates and ticket sales.