Book explores County Durham's rich seam of history and legend
PUBLISHED: 10:48 28 October 2011 | UPDATED: 12:06 28 February 2013
Jo Haywood reports on a Durham author's attempts to bring the region's rich seam of history, lore and legend to a wider audience
Local history books can sometimes be a tad dry. Occasionally, the word Sahara is the description that springs most readily to mind.
But amateur historian Martin Dufferwiel has bucked this turgid trend by giving his tales of Durham fact and fable a generous seasoning of very peppery narrative.
With chapters like A sword and a serpent, Death on Flambards Bridge and Mad, bad and dangerous, you know from page one that this is not going to be a bland, flavourless read.
Drawing on the rich history, lore and legend of the original lands of County Durham between the rivers Tyne and Tees, and ignoring modern political boundaries imposed in the 20th Century, Martin combines fact and fable to tell a purposefully broad history.
I have tried to produce a work about the history and legends of the city and county which is written by a non-historian for the benefit of other non-historians, he explained. There is nothing here for the academic.
I hope the finished product is both informative and entertaining, but with much more left for the interested reader to discover elsewhere.This is Martins second book, following on from and adding extra depth to his previous work, Durham: Over a Thousand Years of History and Legend.
Once again, he supports his writing with his own photographs and, if a minor quibble is allowed, these are the books weakest link. An unfortunate lack of sharpness and gloomy reproduction means they are little more than dark shadows amid the authors colourful tales.But it is the words that matter most.
And, thankfully, the author utilises all his skills to ensure Durhams rich history is given a suitably showy setting.
National figures like William the Conqueror, Richard the Lionheart and William Braveheart Wallace all makean appearance in this brisk jaunt through time, which takes in religious and political reform, civil war and a notorious murder case in which the killers were convicted following the testimony of the ghostly victim.
It is an account with broad appeal, written with the general reader in mindat all times. And, even better than that, the word Sahara never springs to mind for a moment.
The print version of this article appeared in the November 2011 issue of North East Life
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