Having made research visits to the archive, we’ve identified subjects and areas for further enquiry and exploration, which will for the basis of a short documentary film. The team at the Northallerton records office were very helpful in preparing maps, documents and books for us to look at and introduced us to a range of fascinating archive material stored on microfiche. It was particularly helpful and inspiring to engage with the archivists who were happy to share their knowledge and enthusiasm for the local area in relation to maps and texts.
This ‘human archive’, aligned with the physical material and collection, is key to us going forward, helping us to demarcate and identify specific places, landscapes, histories and people. Combing ecological, cultural and social history, our film will focus on an area of Swaledale, close to Keld and the source of the Swale River. The area includes the Gunnerside Estate grouse moor and the ruins of Crackpot Hall. Thanks to discoveries made in the archives, it is also the birthplace of Neddy Dick, an eccentric 19th century musician who was infamous for his homemade instruments, including a ‘lithophone’ made from rocks from the river Swale. It is also the home of the Kearton brothers, who pioneered wildlife photography, being the first people to photograph birds nesting in the wild, thanks to their innovative hides and cunning techniques.
These places and people will form the basis for our documentary film project. Made with an exploratory, responsive approach, the film will be shot on location, seeking out the contrasts and connections between the past and present, whilst also documenting the material and apparatus of the archive itself.