Venue: The Oundle Suite, Fletton House, Glapthorn Road, Oundle PE8 4AJ
For millennia, we have tried to explain ourselves using the raven as a symbol. It occupies a unique place in British history and has left an indelible mark on our cultural landscape. Excavations of Bronze Age settlements in Britain have revealed raven bones mingled with human remains. The Viking and Norman warriors that stormed these shores did so sporting ravens on their shields and banners. By the 15th century the service the birds provided scavenging and picking clean bodies on the streets of British cities led to their protection, under the first-ever piece of nature conservation legislation.
Legend has it that the fate of the nation rests upon the raven, and should the resident birds ever leave the Tower of London then the entire kingdom will fall. While so much of our wildlife is vanishing, ravens are returning to their former habitats after centuries of exile, moving back from their outposts at the very edge of the country, to the city streets. In the past decade there has been a remarkable comeback. Raven numbers have increased by 134% since the turn of the millennium and there are now well over 12,000 breeding pairs across the country.
In A Shadow Above, Joe Shute follows ravens across their new hunting grounds, travelling to every corner of the UK, examining our complicated and challenging relationship with these birds. He meets people who live alongside the raven in conflict and peace, unpicks their fierce intelligence, and ponders what the raven’s successful return might come to symbolise for humans in the dark times we now inhabit.
“Early in the book, the author makes a confession: 'I came to birds late'. Joe Shute may have misspent his adolescence - youth without ornithology is, by definition, wasted - but he's made up for it. This hymn to Corvus corax is the work of a birdman” John Lewis-Stempel, Country Life
Joe Shute is an author and journalist with a passion for the natural world. He studied history at Leeds University, and currently works as a senior staff feature writer at The Telegraph. Before joining the newspaper, Joe was the crime correspondent for The Yorkshire Post. He lives with his wife in Sheffield, on the edge of the Peak District.
Tickets £8 (£6), £1 off early bird tickets bought before 11th January, available from the Oundle Box Office, 4 New Street, Oundle.
Open hours: 10.00am – 4.00pm Mon to Fri: Tel 01832 274734, online at www.oundlefestival.org.uk
Any queries call Helen on 07743988181 or email firstname.lastname@example.org