The Circle in the West

Summer Solstice 2006
Summer Solstice sunrise at the potential site for The Circle in the West.

We didn’t go to the summer solstice celebrations at Stonehenge this year. Instead, at 4am, we were standing at the potential site for The Circle in the West, a new monument planned to be a full size homage to Stonehenge, built from stone.

At about 4.20am, Colin Shearing located the centre of the circle, and we used RTK GPS (a very accurate satellite positioning system) to locate some of the basic features that are present at Stonehenge, laying out some of the key alignments and the position of the heelstone.

If this project comes to fruition, then it will be an impressive place indeed.

Happy Solstice!

Update: Tehm has written a very eloquent description of the morning – far better than I could have done!

Update 2: Pete Glastonbury has written a great piece about the project, complete with a panorama of the proposed site.

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  1. tehmina.org » Blog Archive » The day’s eyes - 25 June, 2006

    […] The day’s eyes Before dawn on 21 June a group of 11 people made their way to a meadow in Wiltshire. The journey was made to found and witness the Circle in the West, a new stone momument that will comprise seven ‘circles’ in homage to Stonehenge. The dawn was clearing as Sun was about to break the flat horizon and we were all quieted by the spectacle in front of us while archaeological surveyors plotted the various angles and positions of the sun rise in relation to the centre point of the Circle. The Ox-eye daisies (the day’s eyes) unfurled and stretched in recognition of it. There was no overt ritual or founding speech. We all were, and the Circle came to be. A great sense of occasion without the need to be vocal or large-gestured. The Circle in the West will give people the best idea yet possible of what Stonehenge looked and felt like when it was ‘first’ built. This in itself happened over a long period of time in about three phases, first c.3,100 BCE a circle of timbers surrounded by a bank and ditch, second c.2,500 BCE the henge is rebuilt in stone using Preseli blue stone from South Wales, and third c. 2,300 BCE after what seems like an abandonment of the site, the henge was expanded to something that resembles its remains today – that is, the re-erection of the blue stones in their current positions and giant sandstone Sarsens from the Marlborough Downs which, among other features, form the unmistakable trilithons. There is also a ring of ‘x and y holes’ which some have posited might have been prepared for a ring of stones that were never erected. The Circle in the West will include these. The stones for the Circle will come from all over the world and when polished up will represent each of the seven colours of the rainbow (not dyed or tinted, the colour will be the natural hue of the rock so the effect quite subtle but dramatic). The new circle will have polished blue stones from an extant quarry in Preseli. The blue stones are dolorite, an extremely hard rock that is midnight blue (indigo) with small flecks of other colours such as green and grey, quite different to the eroded lichen-covered and pock-marked grey of the stones at Stonehenge today. Other rocks will come from Agra (’red’ stone also used in the building of Taj Mahal), Norway (blue rocks with large flecks of quartz crystal), Canada (green), Jerusalem sandstone (yellow, also used in the building of Solomon’s Temple) and a ring of amethyst may form the middle ring of purple. People will not only be able to visit the Circle but there are also plans for a visitor centre that will explain something of the fasination humans have and continue to have with megaliths and stone circles, as well as provide learning and information about the natural environment in which the Circle will exist. The building and planning of the Circle and its visitor centre will hopefully include local people from its adjacent communities, scientists, astrologers, astromomers, archaeologists, natural historians, ecologists, botanists, meglithophiles, healers, Druids, musicians, acousticians, writers, artists, perhaps a hippy or two and anyone with a vested interest in showing what wonders can be made when combining inspiration from the past, a naturally beautiful environment and good minds. Whatever the opinions about the merits of this project (which will not be seeking public funds but rather sustain itself in a not-for-profit manner), I feel it will be a 21st century momument to cherish as much as our old friend that was built over a period of at least 800 years. As I said in response to the announcement of the project, there are no neo-pagan pretentions here for any continuity of tradition or a ‘right’ to worship, neither from Stonehenge fanatics who may seek to replicate the ancient henge momument. The Circle will indeed be a fine co-creation. Thoughts from others at Past Thinking and from Pete Glastonbury. […]