Saturday, 3 November 2012

Gods & Ancestors - Senhouse Literary Festival 2012

The coastline of the Western Lake District has a long been shaped and influenced by peoples from all over the world. The Carvettii, Brigantes, Romans, Germans, Illyrians, Spaniards, Angles, Saxons, Danes, Norse Vikings, Scots, Irish and Normans have all left their mark.

With that in mind the theme of this year’s annual Maryport Literary Festival, is ‘Gods and Ancestors’, designed to explore the contribution made to Western Lake District’s rich cultural heritage. The event now in its fifth year will be held between the 2nd and 4th of November, at the Senhouse Museum, Maryport.

Over the millennia each of these peoples has introduced their own distinct set of beliefs be they religious or ancestral, contributing to this day to the rich cultural heritage of the Western Lake District. For instance the Bronze Age Swinside stone circle, Roman alter stones found in Maryport, a 1000 year old Norse cross at Gosforth and Viking Hogsback tombs, the Benedictine Priory of St Bees and the Cistercian Abbey of Holmcultram.

During this year’s event authors and the audience will come together at the Museum overlooking the ancient Roman site to consider the modern view of ‘Gods and Ancestors’ and how our lives may or may not be influenced by this theme to this very day.

Indeed we can see from the archaeological evidence that generations and generations of people were often buried in the same burial sites, this is certainly true of the Senhouse Museum site, home to the largest collection of military Roman alter stones ever found and now a series of early Christian burials.

‘Gods and Ancestors’ will explore the importance of human beliefs systems - that ancestors remained important long after their death. The importance of where people came from – the rise and fall of dynastic fortunes the pedigree of their ancestors, the names of the people who came before and the way these people affected the status and political standing of those in the present.

The three day literary festival, starting on November 2nd is set to be a celebration of words in all forms, aiming to bring an intimate audience up close and personal with leading writers.

Keynote speakers this year include Max Egremont author and official biographer of Siegfried Sassoon. Mary Burkett former director of the Abbott Hall Gallery.

There will be an entire series of workshops hosted by Grevel Lindop, Carola Luther and Mike Smith, Christopher Burns, Marita Over, Alan Forsyth and Taffy Thomas MBE.

Poetry in Performance, presents stand up poet, armchair revolutionary and recumbent rocker Elvis McGonagall and poet, performer and comedian Kate Fox

Local Voices, features Margaret Poland, Colin Armstrong, Edna Croft, Julia Newsome

New fiction from Cumbria presented by Mike Smith features flash fiction work from the Maryport Writers Group by Anna King, Alison Twigg, Helen Fletcher, Hugh Thomson and others…

The Authors’ Forum, will be led by Angela Locke, bringing together authors and publishers for an exciting interactive exchange.

Authors and audience will come together at the Senhouse Roman Museum, on the tip of the beautiful and inspiring Western Lake District coast, those at the literary festival will begin to explore the meaning of ‘Gods and Ancestors’, in the past and in the present.

A whole host of other authors, poets and speakers will also take to the stage on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th November and tickets can be purchased for individual sessions or a weekend season ticket is also available.

Grevel Lindop, poet, critic, essayist and writer and Maryport Literary Festival regular said: ‘’The Maryport Litfest has become a highlight of every autumn - a lively, packed literary festival in an excitingly unusual venue - a Roman museum on a clifftop - with a wonderful mix of local and national authors, celebrities and newcomers. It's full of vitality, and full of people who listen, think, argue, read and buy books, all in a corner of the beautiful Western Lake District.’’

To find out more about the Senhouse Literary Festival visit or to find out more about the Western Lake District visit

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