A 55-acre “cosmic landscape worthy of the ancients” now occupies the site of a former open-pit coal mine in southern Scotland. Inspired by the themes of space, astronomy and cosmology, what was once a derelict site is now a truly stunning “artland” presenting a network of paths that navigate features and landforms representing the sun, universes, galaxies, comets, black holes and more.
Created by the world-renowned Charles Jencks; and funded by Richard Scott, 10th Duke of Buccleuch, Crawick Multiverse is made up of nine landforms. Similar to Jencks’ other work, including the nearby Garden of Cosmic Speculation, the landforms represent ideas from modern cosmology. However, unlike the Garden of Cosmic speculation, the Crawick Multiverse landforms use stone, in the style of megalithic monuments. In total, over 2,000 boulders were used in the project.
Pathways around the site connect its four ecologies of grassland, mountains, a water gorge and a desert, taking visitors on a journey that includes past galaxies, universes and comets. A “high road” through the site follows along a ridge to the site’s highest point for a dramatic panoramic view, while the “low road” offers a more gentle walk with a choice of routes.
“The Multiverse celebrates the surrounding Scottish countryside and its landmarks, looking outwards and back in time to present a difference view of the situation we are in. Its view is much more open than, say, that of a clockwork universe, and much more interesting — a different sort of landscape,” Jenks said.
Offering a “playful representation of the wilder reaches of modern physics,” the site’s key landforms include:
- The Amphitheatre — which can hold 5,000 people — is at the heart of the Crawick Multiverse. It captures the beauty of a total eclipse, replicating its iconic shapes and forms with a circle of boulders and ridges, representing the Sun. The Amphitheatre faces due south, and two glittering lagoons add to its magic and drama.
- Two Galaxy Mounds — Andromeda and The Milky Way: The spiral galaxies are represented with two towering mounds of earth standing at 25 and 15 meters high, with boulders atop each. Unlike most of the other 100 billion galaxies that are travelling away from us, Andromeda and the Milky Way are heading toward one another at speed and are predicted to be drawn together by gravity in four billion years’ time. The galaxy mounds represent this “cosmic ballet” of the two galaxies coming together and stripping one another into long lines of stars and planets. Red sandstone boulders at the base signify the long lines of matter, while giant boulders on top of the two spiraling mounds symbolize other cosmological events and phenomena, such as black holes. The mounds each have lagoons, which will fill with water and add to their striking visual impact.
- North-South Path: A north-south line splits the site precisely down the middle. This 400-meter path is bordered with large boulders and leads visitors to the site’s northern lookout. Intersection boulders mark additional pathways, which run east and west, and there are also two shelter seats constructed with huge boulders.
- Multiverse: a corkscrew path constructed mostly from mudstone composed of black and white layers represents the whole ensemble of universes, and the stones are carved with lines representing the different types of universe and their different fates.
- Supercluster: represents the Supercluster of galaxies to which the Milky Way belongs. Crawick’s very own Supercluster features a distinctive pattern of abstract triangles which aim south-west to create similar shadow patterns, representing the forming of our universe and its place within the cosmos.
- Omphalos: In classical Greece and Jerusalem, the Omphalos is the center, or navel, of the world. This stone representation features v-shaped silhouettes that frame the cliff scallop overhead, while on the inside, special rocks signify the mythical and actual center of the Earth.
- Belvedere: The Comet Walk leads visitors to the Belvedere, a northern lookout offering a 360-degree view of the surrounding countryside and settlements. As you look from the top, along the north-south path, you can see the nearby railroad viaduct and other distant landmarks. Atop the Belvedere sits a stone hand with a finger pointing at the sky, aiming directly at the North (Polar) Star.
- Void: Alongside the Belvedere is a second, connected feature — the Void. This mirrors the shape of the Belvedere, inverted into the ground. Water sits in the center of the void, which features a stone island reached by a spiraling path. A third Shelter Seat sits close by.
- Comet Walk: Intersection boulders — the largest rocks on the entire site — mark the start of the Comet Walk. This takes you along a ridge with scalloped edges, four of which have edges of white-yellow sandstone to emulate comets’ tails. These are positioned so the comets are being pulled into their elliptical trajectories by the Sun (Amphitheatre).
“Charles’ vision has transformed what was once a barren wasteland in need of love and attention into a visually stunning and intellectually stimulating landscape that will, hopefully, benefit the local area,” The Duke of Buccleuch said.
Crawick Multiverse is open year-round. Please note that elements of the Crawick Multiverse do present rough terrain, and all visitors are advised to arrive with suitable footwear.
- Charles Jencks on creating Crawick Multiverse: https://vimeo.com/132186195
- Richard Scott, 10th Duke of Buccleuch on creating Crawick Multiverse: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bmflEKvMlAQ
- What do you think of Crawick Multiverse? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ibsHrPfr_E
- More about Charles Jencks
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