SMALL STONE CIRCLES

 

OLD SPIRE CHAPEL, WEST ASHLING, SUSSEX, UK

People noticed ominous cracks appearing in early 1861, in the 800-year old base of the spire of Chichester cathedral.  On February 21st 1861, after a team of workmen had attempted to carry out urgent repairs, the whole of the spire and part of the roof of this wonderful cathedral collapsed.  Happily no one was hurt or died, but the damage was so bad that it took six years to repair.

Some of the stones were re-used, but the majority were not, and those that weren’t re-used were moved and used to build a small new chapel, some 3 miles west of the cathedral, in West Ashling.  Over the years, the chapel fell into disuse and eventually became used as a hut by the Boy Scouts.

The chapel still stands to this day and was ‘listed’ as an important building, worthy of preservation, in 1986. Its formal name is ‘Old Spire Chapel’, thus recognising the provenance of the stone from which it is built.

In recent years, Paul Strickland has renovated the building and gardens, and it now houses a clock museum.

He commissioned me to design a small stone circle as a feature and the circle stands in the shade under a lovely old tree.

This is a colour photo. It shows a medium sized piece of grass. Near the camera is a small stone circle of eight stones, evenly spaced around the circumference with a central stone. The stones are yellowish, probably sandstone and they are in dappled shade beneath the branches of a large rowan tree whose trunk is immediately behind the circle to the left. The shade gets deeper to the back and right and the rest of the grass is in bright sunshine. There is another large tree towards the back of the picture on the rightwhose branches are hidden by those of the rowan. A 2m fence runs from near left to far right which forms the horizon except for two distant trees and a red-roofed house with a white gable end to the left of the right hand tree. The sky at the top of the picture is bright blue, but there is little visible through the rowan and the blue fades to a creamy white from top to bottom of the picture.

A STONE CIRCLE FOR YOUR OWN GARDEN

I have travelled extensively and I have enjoyed leaving small stone circles to mark many of my journeys.
Ones that I remember well are those in Peru, Chile, China and in Sweden.

I also particularly remember one on the island of Iona in the Inner Hebrides, in Scotland,
but over the last 40 years I have left circles in so many other places – far too many to name.

CAN I MAKE ONE FOR YOU?

This is a colour photo of a lawn, not recently mown, with a small stone circle in the foreground. The top half of the photo shows a thatched roof above a brick-and-flint cottage with a tile-hung gable end housing white-painted casement windows. To the left of the cottage is a tall silver birch tree which is not yet in leaf. In front of the cottage is a low stone wall and some low shrubs. At the back of the lawn is a small bronze sculpture of a standing human, stooping forwards with arms outstretched. There are 6 stones forming the circle. They are tall (the tallest is ~400mm) and thin and yellowish - possibly sandstone. The centre of the circle is marked by two slightly taller stones. The sun is out and shining from the left. There is a large tree shadow, immediately behind the circle on the lawn. The sky above the thatched roof and to the left of the cottage is a bright, pale blue and almost completely cloudless.

Here are two recent examples.

The stones above came from near Callanish, on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.  The ones below came from Dartmoor.

This is a colour photo of a small stone circle on pale green grass. There are a total of six stones around the circumference. They are each about 300mm high and perhaps 200mm across. In the centre of the circle are two much more substantial stones. The larger one is about 1m tall and 300mm across and the smaller one is perhaps 500mm tall and 250mm across. The stones are yellowish. Behind the stones at the back of the lawn are some shrubs and a low dark green hedge. Behind the hedge is a tall (~3m) flint-faced wall with brick piers. On the other side of the wall, there are a variety of trees, some in full leaf, others not yet, and above the trees a very bright blue sky with just a little fluffy white cloud.

One of my favourite small stone circles is this one (below), on the island of Skepparviken, Värmdö in the Stockholm archipelago in Sweden.

I have been a regular visitor there for over 40 years and my circle there is preserved and respected.

This is a colour photo of Neil, sitting on a low stone wall in front of a large, single-storey barn. The barn seems to be old - maybe 100 years old or more. It is of timber construction, with long, thin vertical boards painted in a terracotta colour. We can only see a section of the barn. On the far right is the closed left half of a solid, double barn-door entrance with long, horizontal metal hinges on the outside. The door seems to be unpainted and untreated, but weathered pine in a mid-grey colour. To the left of the dors is a large octagonal roof, about 3 m high. Underneath a curious inverted cone-shaped timber frame that may have been part of a mill but looks as if it no longer functions. Between the camera and the wall of the barn is a distance of about 15m covered in a green grass lawn. In the front half of the lawn closest to us and in front of the strange timber construction is a modern day replica of an ancient stone circle. It consists of eight stones on the circumference and three stones in the middle. The stones are roughly 150mm tall and 100mm x 100mm in section. They are all a grey granite and show no sign of having been worked. Neil is sitting on the wall to the left of the stone circle. Behind him on the grass is a green-painted wooden bench and above his head is a double casement, four-paned wooden window painted white in a black-painted frame. To its left is a matching single window and frame.
This is a colour photo of a large, single-storey barn. The barn seems to be old - maybe 100 years old. It is of timber construction, with long, thin vertical boards painted in a terracotta colour. We can only see a section of the barn. On the far right is part of a wooden white-painted casement window with a green shrub in front of it and below it. To the left of that are large, double barn doors with long metal hinges on the outside. The doors seem to be unpainted and intreated, but weathered pine in a mid-grey colour. Above the doors, mounted to the wall is a circular white outdoor light. To the left of the dors is a large timber construction that may have been part of a mill but looks as if it no longer functions. Between the camera and the wall of the barn is a distance of about 15m covered in a green grass lawn. Almost filling the lawn is a modern day replica of an ancient stone circle. It consists of eight stones on the circumference and three stones in the middle. The stones are roughly 150mm tall and 100mm x 100mm in section. They are all a grey granite and show no sign of having been worked.

Stone circles have a power that is an intangible and a mystic sense about them.

They possess an aura that is difficult to describe.

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