TYTHING-MAN is a hardhitting, action packed political thriller set in Anglo Saxon Britain in 1098 AD.
We’re in a world we wouldn’t recognise as contemporary Britain or Europe: English society was organised around the Kingdoms of Mercia, Northumbria, Wessex, Kent, the Five Boroughs and East Anglia. Each Kingdom had its own King who had his own companions – The Earls and Landowners – who formed the basis of the nobility. Below them were the Ceorls – Farmers – and at the bottom of the pile were the serfs and peasants.
We’re in a time when the most significant technological advances were the horse collar, the tandem harness and the nailed horse shoe which did for the 11th century what steam did for the 19th and computerisation did for the 20th. This is a time when most people would hardly ever have seen a horse, and indeed, would have been terrifed of what a creature might represent.
This was a time of immense power and cultural shifts, with power shifting from being run on a Tribal to Feudal basis as the Norman Conquest of 1066 eventually took control of ‘England’.
But this was not a time of easy transition: tribal communities were breaking down, loyalties were changing from tribe to the state. Whilst paganism was reluctantly being replaced by Christianity it still had an active influence: Gods representing the days of the week: Tiw (a War God), Wodan (a Wizard), Thunor (God of Thunder) and Frig (Fertility Goddess) were all actively worshipped for the favours they could bestow upon their worshippers. Witches, giants, elves, dragons, sea monsters and nicors were all real forces and influences in people lives and had to be respected. Battling against these pagan forces was the Christian Church which, as well as offering moral and spiritual guidance, played an important part in the legal process: overseeing the plunging of an accused’s arm into a pan of boiling water, assessing the injuries later and then deciding on guilt or innocence on the basis of those injuries for instance.
Anglo Saxon Britain was not a place for the faint hearted.
This was a time when justice was rough, ready and directed by the community who had suffered at criminals hands. Communities would elect their own representatives – the Tything-Men – to secure peace and order for their communities. But like so much else of the era, judicial processes were also in a state of flux: ‘bottom up’ justice was giving way to ‘top down’ justice and the right to police the community was shifting away from the People to the State.
This is the time when the Tything Men secured order for the ordinary man and woman and jealously guarded their power and the film, TYTHING MAN, is their story of the struggle of progress and tradition, of community and state, of logic and superstition, of Religion and paganism, of the heart and mind.