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Writer’s Residency Day 5: Teesdale Tales

August 15, 2013

Had an early start this morning so that I could take part in a live programme on Radio Teesdale to promote the ‘One Poem for Teesdale’ project before arriving at NeST gallery in Barnard Castle to faclitate a workshop on ‘Rewriting Teesdale Tales.’
We started the session by retelling tales told to us in the past. I chose the story of Pollard and the Wild Boar. It was a story which I heard a lot as a child as it was linked to the primary school which I attended in Bishop Auckland which still has a boar’s head as its emblem. The boar in question was one which rampaged the forest of beech and oak (from where the name Auckland is derived) which covered the Bishop of Durham’s land and formed part of his hunting grounds. The Bishop offered a reward to the person who could bring him the boar’s head.
Pollard was a young man who took up the quest. He tracked the boar back to its lair where he waited until it fell asleep before attacking it. A long battle ensued in which he succeeded in killing the beast, cut off its tongue and stashed it in his jerkin before taking a nap to recover from the ordeal. While he was asleep another knight stole the boar’s head, took it to the Bishop and rode off with the reward.
When Pollard awoke he realised what had happened and reported to the Bishop, producing the tongue as evidence that he was the rightful claimant. When the boar’s mouth was opened it was found to be missing its tongue. As the Bishop had already paid out the reward he agreed that Pollard could claim all the land that he could ride around while he finished eating his dinner.
Being a clever young man, so the story goes, Pollard rode around the Bishop’s castle thus claiming all his wealth. The Bishop reneged on the deal but gave him all the land to the South West of the town where the boar was caught. The land became known as Pollard’s land and there is a pub in the area called the Pollard’s Inn.
It seems that wild boar were a problem in nearby Teesdale and Richmondshire. One of the group rewrote the story of the Felon Sow of Rokeby which escaped capture by the Grey Friars of Richmond who drove it into a kiln hole where they read the Gospel according to St. John. Apparently the boar was not well versed in Latin and lived to fight another day. It was eventually killed by two men-at-arms and served up as Christmas dinner.
I recently culled a passage containing a boar procession from the mediaeval tale that I am rewriting and reintroduced the boar metaphorically speaking in the character of the cobbler who kept a wild boar skin to use the bristles as needles for sewing leather.
In the second part of today’s workshop we looked at mythic structures to identify what was missing from our first drafts. The structures we used were Aristotle’s:
Opening, Development, Climax, Turning Point and Denouement
followed by Joseph Campbell’s:
Departure, Initiation and Return with all its substructures as set out in Christopher Vogler’s ‘A Writer’s Journey’ (Michael Wiese Productions:1998)
I leave you with this final thought from Julia Casterton’s ‘Creative Writing, A Practical Guide’ (Palgrave:2005):
‘Myths are fundamentally the same … no matter how far the hero/heroine has strayed from his/her moorings, there is always a return.’


From → Creative Writing

  1. Doreen permalink

    Hope your poetry reading went well Judith. I would have liked this session on Myths, loving old tales and curiosities, have always thought of the number of ways they can inspire one. I have yet to read your other blogs, I have them all tucked away ready and waiting, so now I’ve made a start, but don’t get over excited will you.
    Cheers, Dor F.

    • Hi Doreen
      Good to hear from you. Thanks for reading my posts. Hope you find something in them to inspire your own writing.
      Regards, Judith

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