What is this project?
The exciting new sculpture project by young people uses art to fill gaps in the King’s Men stone circle, recreating its original sense of enclosure. The challenge for young artists has been to respond creatively to the associations and folklore of this special place; prehistoric ways fo life, crafts and animals; abstract ideas of form, colour and texture; and deep contrasts of ancient and modern.
The challenge for visitors is not just to enjoy the sculptures for their own imaginative responses to the site, but also experience the stone circle in a different way. Even relatively well-preserved monuments are quite ruinous and do not fully reflect their original form: the design of this stone circle was a continuous ring of boulders leaving only a narrow entrance opposite the tallest stone, which casts a different light on its original sense of enclosure and possible uses. This distinctive form of monument is not local but much more characteristic of stone circles found in NW England, Ireland or Wales, which may well be where the community who built it originated.
(Scroll down for link to catalogue of sculptures.)
Co-ordinated by OYAP Trust and mentored by three professional artists, three schools have taken up the challenge for their primary classes aged 7-9, who between them have contributed 18 sculptures. In addition, several more pieces have been contributed by individual young artists in their teens. The result is a fascinating and highly eclectic and imaginative take on the Stones and their highly varied characteristics and associations.
The display will formally last throughout the school summer holidays and into the beginning of next term, from 25th July until 9th September with a little leeway at either end of this period. At 12 noon during the Trust’s Family Fun Day on Bank Holiday Monday August 27th the sculptures will be celebrated with a formal thank-you to all who have contributed and the award of prizes….!
The Rollright stone circle is a distinctive design, originally with a complete ring of almost touching stones – like a row of teeth – but for a narrow entrance marked by two ‘portal’ stones just outside its circumference opposite the tallest stone. There also are traces of the stones having been set in a very low horseshoe shaped bank, possibly derived from flattening the interior. Several stone circles like this survive in Cumbria in NW England, with a few in Ireland and possibly Wales, but not elsewhere in Britain. It seems likely that the people who built the King’s Men may have originated in one of those areas and constructed a monument that fitted their ancestral architectural heritage. Over the thousands of years since the ring was built, people have made off with stones for use in other ways – commemorated in legend by the farmer who took a stone to make a bridge over a stream; after it took 24 horses to drag the stone down the hill followed by several disasters it only took one to return it! The stones are famously uncountable (as a baker found when he tried putting a bun on each) and the gaps and their temporary sculptural fillers add the uncertainty… This challenge thus recreates – in a highly imaginative way – the original idea of the circle as a confined space with only one narrow entrance and reminds us that ancient monuments do not always survive as originally built.
....and what became of the witch?
Remember the story of the witch who changed the King and his men into stones, and then turned herself into an Elder tree? Could this be her now, with her feathered robes, her charms, and a pocketful of torn-out pages from her potion and spells recipe book…?