Excerpts from the proposal…
“…Lasting through scores of centuries of unwritten and written languages, it is natural that many different names have become attached to such structures, and they are accordingly known by the names – Barrow, Burf, Butt, Cairn, Cruc, Garn, How, Knapp, Low, Mary, Moat, Moot, Mound, Mount, Toot, Tump, Tumulus, Twt. Also less distinctively as Brugh, Bury, Castle, Knowl; these last names being also used in other senses…” – Alfred Watkins – The Old Straight Track 1925
We want to build a large spiral mound in the flat landscape of East Yorkshire. The mound will be constructed from soil, chalk and rubble like its Neolithic counterparts. The mound will have a spiral walkway from its base to the summit where people will be able to enjoy the spectacular vantage point it presents.
It will provide:
A Vantage point in a sparse landscape.
A meeting place and venue for seasonal and other festivities.
A rich ecological resource.
The creation of a new ‘natural’ space.
Community Focus on a lasting positive environmental legacy.
A time hardy monument whose story will continue to unfold deep into the future.
We will create a structure that will not only generate a new and interesting space for the community and the region but will leave a lasting legacy for generations to come. It could become a location for seasonal celebrations, community festivals, annual events, outdoor theatre and fayres, beginning with the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in 2012.
Special attention will be paid to the ecology, planting of trees (fruits and otherwise), herbs, wild grasses and meadow flowers, both on the mound and in its immediate vicinity. In a landscape on which centuries of agri-industrialised monoculture has impacted on the natural habitat, our planting will be inspired by perma-culture and promote diversity in the environment, providing much needed variegation for a rich wildlife to flourish. We know of farmers in the area who have begun to turn significant parts of their land into woodland habitat, there is a widely recognised need for natural diversity in the locale.
The design of the mound will reflect its location through its geometry and its sensitivity to the eco-system. The spiral itself, though simple, will indicate a certain harmonious relationship with the microcosm and macrocosm and an awareness of its complexities, mirroring spiral galaxies, weather systems, sunflower heads, subatomic particles, the Nautilus shell, the Fibonacci number series etc. The path will be an Archimedes or Fermat’s logarithmic spiral allowing a flowing spiraling processional route over the mound, from North to South. It will be a simple and profound symbol of our collective awareness of the universe its machinations, its hidden forms and our place within it.
There is evidence to suggest that in pre-history the British landscape was carefully mapped out in a Ley system, and the locations of many ancient mounds and monuments, cross roads and indeed churches (latterly constructed on already important sites) correspond to this theory. Certainly mound’s like Silbury Hill and its surrounding earthworks are consistent with this notion. In recent centuries much of this evidence of ‘primitive’ civilisation has been eradicated in East Yorkshire, through the expansion of the urban footprint and the industrialisation of agriculture. By creating something new and unique in the landscape we are simultaneously reviving a tradition.
An artificial hill is a kind of battery in the landscape, perhaps all the energy that has gone toward its construction is stored in some mysterious format we can’t fathom. The energy is directed toward a crucial central point, compressed time.
The high drama of such an object in an almost completely flat landscape cannot be over emphasised.
A climb to a high point in a landscape, to simply look around, seems to be an innate desire. From a vantage point between the land and the sky we gain fresh perspective (and air!), we are rejuvenated by exposure to the elements and our dreams and aspirations are given wings.
The British Isles has a wealth of ancient monuments and sites many of which were clearly constructed for reasons other than burials, habitations or as strategic fortification. Whether they were constructed as beacons for travellers or ritual meeting places or for some other mysterious reason we don’t actually know, but we do know that many of these sites have become celebrated and utilised as symbolic meeting places for many reasons. The builders themselves remain a mystery too. In the case of Silbury Hill in Wiltshire for instance, several generations must have been driven by coercion or cohesion to build it! Was it an echo of the nearby Glastonbury Tor (a natural monument)? Did the builders use some form of mathematics? Evidence would suggest so. Were they driven by passion or punishment?
“…Born in a cavern of mount Kylene, on the summit of which he had from the oldest times a sanctuary, he became the patron of the skilled athlete. In the oldest places of worship, however, the good shepherd, bearing the hooked stick. He guides wayfarers on unknown paths. Stone heaps with pillars in them, which serve as fingerposts, were hence sacred to him, so that the latter were often adorned with a head of Hermes; or on cross-roads even with three or four heads. As patron of market traffic, he became the god of trades-folk, and so brought his worship to Rome, where he was confused with the old Roman deity of Mercurius. Regarded thus he bears as the god of trade a purse as token. The herdsman’s stick passes over into the herald’s staff. After the transformation of Hermes into the god of luck this becomes the magical wishing-rod. As a wayfarer Hermes wears wings on his travellers hat and his shoes to indicate swiftness. As an interlude he becomes the patron of thieves, and to him is ascribed the herdsman’s pipe, the lyre, and other inventions. He becomes the messenger of the gods, and the leader over unknown track-ways of departed souls to the nether world…”
– Alfred Watkins – The Old Straight Track.1925.
Intrinsic to the mounds design will be many ‘secrets’, of geometry, physics and biology.
These ‘secrets’ will not only add to the legacy of the mound but also serve as useful tools for educators to explain certain principles to students, to act as a practical tool to illustrate them. Logarithmic Spirals in nature and engineering, lunar dials, Fibonacci series, Archimedes spirals, spiral galaxies, astronomy, bio diversity, permaculture.
The addition of a stone wall solar / lunar light sculpture that coincides with the summer and winter solstices, autumn and spring equinoxes etc, is a particularly interesting and exciting prospect.
Simply put we want to construct a monument that celebrates the landscape and its people, and is a meeting place for the celebration of culture, nature, art, science and learning.
For young people to see adults making a positive tangible impact on the environment and looking toward the future with care and attention is comfort and inspiration.