Sea Fever literary festival returns to Wells

Tump by Andrew Rafferty from Seahenge: A Journey by Kevin Crossley-Holland and Andrew Rafferty

Tump by Andrew Rafferty from Seahenge: A Journey by Kevin Crossley-Holland and Andrew Rafferty - Credit: Andrew Rafferty

North Norfolk’s festival of poetry and prose returns for its second year

The 22nd Sea Fever festival floods Wells with words from May 10 to 12. Highlights include talks by former Poet Laureate Sir Andrew Motion, and ceramicist (and Spitting Image puppet-maker) Roger Law.

The weekend at Wells Maltings also features Julia Blackburn talking about Timesong: Searching for Doggerland, her beautiful new book exploring pre-history, psycho-geography and grief and a screening of Night Mail, the iconic film of a Royal Mail post train speeding through the night. Created by Benjamin Britten and WH Auden, both pupils of Gresham's in Holt, it will be introduced by Holt-based film director Tony Britten. Other events include a history of angels, a memoir of Wells harbour-master, the latest information on cuckoos from a Cambridge expert, a talk on how the sea shapes our lives with the chairman of Sheringham RNLI, a re-interpretation of the role played by the Royal Navy in the First World War by festival co-director Jim Ring, an open mic poetry session and a children's poetry competition.

Before Sea Fever there was Poetry-next-the-Sea and one of its founders, Kevin Crossley-Holland, launches his latest book at the festival.

Seahenge: A Journey by Kevin Crossley-Holland and photographer Andy Rafferty is a book of his poetry and pictures inspired by the Icknield Way and Seahenge.

Kevin Crossley-Holland reported on the discovery of Seahenge for BBC World Service.

"The circle, standing on the foreshore and regularly covered by the incoming tides, consisted of 55 split oak trunks," he said. "At the centre was a huge oak stump, upside down."

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Remarkably, scientists deduced all the trees were felled, by bronze axes, in the spring or summer 2049BC and dragged into position with honeysuckle ropes. It would have been built on a saltmarsh, part of a complex including causeways and at least one other circle.

"Recently, at a very low tide, Andy Rafferty photographed eight upright oak trunks that are plainly part of a second circle," said Kevin. "So what were these circles? As ever we have to use what archaeological evidence we can, and then imagine. A place where body and spirit meet. A mortuary perhaps? A site for sky-burials? In my own sequence of poems, I approach Seahenge along the Neolithic Icknield Way and then the Peddars Way, that plays out into the sea at Holme."