Media students have been chronicling events as local historians find themselves on the brink of a discovery which could alter the annals of history.
Darlington College UAL Level 3 media students have created a movie trailer depicting a medieval melee in County Durham claimed to be bigger than the Battle of Hastings.
Up to 30,000 heavily armed troops are believed to have clashed in 937 at the Battle of Brunanburh as the Anglo-Saxon King Athelstan defeated Constantine of Scotland and the Vikings.
The encounter became the basis of a popular Icelandic tale, Elgin’s Saga, and now two Icelandic historians Bjorn Vernhardsson and his son Stefan Bjornsson have discovered evidence that the battle took place in Hunwick, near Bishop Auckland.
Landlord of the Joiners’ Arms Alistair Ruddick is seeking permission to dig around the village to prove the battle took place there.
Four Darlington College students – Molly Clark, of Newton Aycliffe, Jack Cornish, of Chilton, James Curtis, of Northallerton, and Gabe Yates, of Frosterley – produced the trailer with the help of the early medieval re-enactment group Acle.
Darlington College Programme Leader for L3 UAL Award and Diploma in Creative Media Production and Technology Film and TV Stephen Wade said the film would be used to increase awareness of the historic event.
“Students spent their time in a very cold and muddy field, on what is believed to be the battle site, recreating the drama of what must have been an epic battle,” he said. “The final edit captures the atmosphere, the tragedy and the horror of a pitched battle staged on foot by thousands of men.
“You simply cannot recreate what the students have experienced in the classroom and to be involved in what could be such a monumental historical find is incredible.”
Molly said: “It was great working with Acle, especially as I used to be a member of the group when I was young. It was an added bonus that the Icelandic historians were there to help. We feel really proud of the final film.”
James said: “It was so different from everyday life and it has inspired us to do more projects like this.”
Gabe added: “There was always something to film, even when they were just practising. It has really boosted our confidence.”
Jack said: “The actors hurled themselves into it – they were pure berserker. It really was like being in the middle of a civil war.”
Acle’s Stuart Findlay said the research so far had been compelling. “Around 30,000 men clashed in hand to hand combat and if we can find the evidence this is huge for the North-East,” he said.
Fellow group member and local historian Patrick Townsend added: “This was the largest land battles of the medieval period – bigger than Hastings. This could be a key moment in this country becoming Great Britain.”
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