Unearthing Sacred Narratives: Bede’s Walk

Mark Adams shares his photographs of Bede’s Way, an ancient pilgrim’s trail in the northeast of England

WORDS & PICTURES: Mark Adams – from his project Peregrinus – Bede’s Walk

The images in ‘Peregrinus – Bede’s Walk’ depict a series of walks along Bede’s Way, an historical path in the north east of England which runs between two Anglo-Saxon monastic sites – St Peter’s in Monkwearmouth, and St Paul’s church in Jarrow.

Pilgrims initially undertook this route in the 7th century, paying homage to the Venerable Bede, an Anglo Saxon scholar noted as the father of English history. Today, Bede’s Way is a sign-posted cultural and heritage route, which embodies nature, history, religion and tourism.

This project combines photography and GPS tracing of the walk, overwriting the path of the pilgrim’s way using cameras and contemporary technology. This represents both an experiential and an indexical notation of the walks by using traditional Cartesian perspective and aerial non-perspectival modes of image making.  The unification of the material and immaterial is characteristic of the traditional pilgrimage, an instrument of contemplation of relationships between the sacred and the secular, and a central theme of this project.  

Like all contemporary pilgrimages these journeys follow an historical precedent – to trace the footsteps of ancestors, embodying history through a disciplined process of repetitive, sustained walking. Looking down at the floor at tactile surfaces, pavements, grass and dirt tracks describes the walk as it progresses but alludes to the gaze from above, the authority of technology, a God’s eye aerial perspective and the language of cartography.

The result is a multi dimensional experience, finding relationships between the devotional activities of the pilgrim and the detached observations of the psychogeographer looking for hidden meanings in the quotidian, unearthing sacred narratives found in the topographic features of the landscape.

ABOUT THE ARTIST

Mark Adams is a photographer whose practice is concerned with landscape representation.  You can see more from Peregrinus on his website here. You can also follow him on Instagram.

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