A Sense of Place

A Sense of Place was an interactive sound and light installation reflecting the 2000 year old link between two of the most important sites in the City of York. York Minster, originally the site of the Roman Legionary headquarters and the symbolic heart of the City, and Bootham Bar, one of the four main gates of the Roman legionary fortress and still used as an entrance to the City today.

The piece ran every hour for about 15 mins from January to April 2006 within Bootham Bar itself.  All the sounds used were recorded specially to tell this story of York, presented in three distinct sections.  The sound of present day York is also interspersed with these recordings, reflecting on the history of the City and our place in the story.

A Sense of Place began 2000 years ago.  When the Romans came to York it is thought that they named the City Eboracum after the ancient British title for the area that can be interpreted as The Place Where the Yew Trees Grow – and this is also the name to the first section of the piece.

The second section, Bedern, is inspired by the history of the area around Bedern Hall and based on a traditional melody called York dating from 1615. Bedern, a centre of power and influence in the City in the 1300s, fell from grace to become a slum and a ghetto for Irish immigrants in the 1850s, and the location of The Ragged School – designated for ‘the poorer classes’.

Finally, The Railway King recalls the life and death of George Hudson who brought the railways to York. Upon his death in 1871 his body was brought back to the City from London on a railway carriage, and was then carried though the streets to the sound of the tolling Minster bell as people gathered to wish him a final farewell.

A Sense of Place was a collaboration between Damian Murphy, Mark Hildred and John Oxley, and was sponsored by the York Renaissance Project (now Illuminating York), Arts Council England, and the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

A Sense of Place [Revisited] is a reworked version of this site specific installation for DVD and 5.1 audio presentation.  It was first presented at CCRMA, USA, in April 2007. Subsequent presentations included an event at Bedern Hall, York, in March 2008, and the Minster Nights open event in York Minster in January 2010.