Halesworth - Films/Festivals, News

Doggerland – Julia Blackburn and Hugh Brody

A packed Cut theatre on a dull Thursday in March. Julia’s face reminds me of Pam, it’s that nose and a confidence of a full life. She spoke brilliantly and lyrically.

‘The companionship of a big book’
What’s my connection? Two fold. First my short sight and second my Dutch husbands.
Jane Ivimey introduced me, through her paintings, and then the exhibition at the Cut.

Background Doggerland was an area of land, now submerged beneath the southern North Sea, that connected the UK with continental Europe (pre brexit). It was flooded by rising sea levels around 6,500–6,200 BC.  It was probably a rich habitat with human habitation in the MESOLITHIC  period.  First uncovered by a fishing trawler which dragged up a barbed antler point. Vessels have dragged up remains of mammoth  as well as a few prehistoric tools and weapons

Life on Doggerland – the rise and fall, the precariousness of life.

Conversation with the Slaughterman who collected mammoth fossils on Cove Hythe beach.

The Zero’s – Millions of years

Relationship between hunter and hunted. In order to kill, the hunter has to become the animal hunted.

Tollerman – or one such – had 63 plant species in his stomach at the time of death.

She went to Doggerland with a Trawler fisherman. First discovered in the 1990’s

Richard question – was life more comfortable there than in say the North East now? sounded rediculous but Julia answered ‘Comfort has to do with sufficient food, and indeed they had plenty.

Happisburgh footprints

Hugh Brodie was introduced by Julia as a person who represents what is is to be human. An anthropologist who first went to the Arctic and lived amongst the Inuits in 1971 for 10 years. He learned their language. Why are we teaching you, they asked, so you can protect us.
– Language disappearing – global warming ice thinning – higher than average level of suicide. As if they have nothing left to live for being abosorbed into the western

10,000 years ago farmers. Hunter Gatherers 2 million. Their apparant simplicity is extrarordinarily complex. Knowledge of the planet, of observation, story, myth combining knowledge with intuition (dreaming)

Hugh introduced the film – probably the best every made – of Inuit fishing, called Fishing at the X Weir.

Ash of the fire taken by the woman to spred over the eyes, was a ritual welcoming the animal. The relationship between the hunter and animal is one of respect.

No accumulation, there is plenty. All shared. Sence of time, backward time, not forward time. Schools used to taken the children to board and shape them into western paradigm. Now stopped or have they? Botswana? These and all reminds M and I of what we have just experienced with the Aboriginees in Oz.

Someone noticed the ring on the womans finger. There was a story here . These people filmed in 1950’s had just 3 years before been rehoused in a western collective, and got by the missionaries who liked to promote marriage. Familiar and grown up with these traditional ways they re-inacted all their rituals for the camera and this remarkable film.

Michael asked about their death rituals. Placed on the earth and stones on top. The wind and animal s gradually removed, and ate. Pay back time.


We had no time to stay to buy a book, but raced off to Aldeburgh, where we met Peter who Michael had not seen for 64 years! They connected on Facebook while we were in Perth staying with Curly Matthews from my old school days (a mere 40 years ago). We had a delightful reminising lunch at the Brudenell. ‘And how did he die?’ was a refrain. One by a tree falling on his car, another by cancer, another suicide and some still lived! He’d bought with him two programmes from their Birkenhead school, MH Imison, Head boy. ‘Did he tell you he was connected to Royalty?’ Peter quipped. ‘Why he was the Queen in our pageant!’ Peter had thoroughly enjoyed his working life, a fixer, first for Walls icecream then tobacco, sourcing packaging and materials. Married to an Edinburgh girl, with us for lunch (now 8 years with Alzimers), they settled in Stanstead village, Essex, then moved up to Woodbridge 3 years ago. They both had life threatening events in their lives half a dozen  years ago, and set up a benevolent gift to all students who became medics from their old school, hence his recent connection with Alma mater. Such playful alive eyes he has.



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