Scots battle with the Roman Empire inspires North-east artistic project

Scots battle with the Roman Empire inspires North-east artistic project

Independent storytelling artist Andy Cannon begins a month-long artist exchange with Aberdeen Performing Arts (APA) on Friday with a deeply Scottish flavour.

For the partnership will help him to develop a new show based on the battle of Mons Graupius, called The Last People on Earth, an odyssey to discover the stories behind the stories behind the story of the first recorded battle in Scotland's colourful past.

Combining storytelling and music to explore the fierce debates surrounding the actual site of the bloody confrontation, the project aims to un-earth a truth or two about the role history plays in the lives of all Scots today.

And everyone can get in on the act, by dropping into Aberdeen Music Hall on Saturday, May 9, 10.30am to 12.30pm and 1.30pm to 3.30pm, when Andy will be setting up his stall and chatting with people to find out what they know, believe or even care about the battle and how it has shaped Scotland’s identity ever since.

“Andy will then travel around the region visiting probable battle sites, chatting with academics, archaeologists and artists in the North-east and pulling together ideas on how to create a brand new show out of all that he un-earths,” says APA artistic producer Lesley Anne Rose.

“Then we're hosting a free event at The Lemon Tree on Friday, May 22, at 6pm which anyone is invited to come along and see what's he's been up to and where he will present his findings and ideas so far and listen to people’s ideas about The Last People on Earth and what it means to Scotland.”

Last year as part of the 2014 Scottish International Storytelling Festival Andy presented Tales of a Grandson; the story of Scotland's past through the eyes of a 10-year-old boy, travelling with his grandfather back in the summer of 1973.

One particular brief excursion on that epic journey has continued to intrigue and keep hold of Andy - the battle of Mons Graupius, the celebrated encounter between the Caledonians and the might of the Roman Empire.

“Mons Graupius has captivated historians and antiquarians for hundreds of years - not least because exactly where in the North-east the battle occurred is still a matter of intense scholarly dispute to this day,” says Andy.

“The Roman historian Tacitus told of Calgacus, leader of the Caledonians and his celebrated address to his warriors on the eve of the battle of Mons Graupius.

“This heroic call to arms has echoed down through the subsequent two thousand years to the present day - while arguably shaping many a nation defining deceleration in its wake.

“Yet how many of the descendants of these heroic North Britons have even heard of Mons Graupius, Calgagus or their forefathers ultimate glorious defeat at the sword of the mighty Roman Empire?”

Posted on Wednesday 29 April

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