A Labyrinth For Glasgow

(and a stone circle too!)

There have been some considerable developments to Glasgow City Council’s plan to redevelop Sighthill park into an athlete’s village for the 2018 Youth Olympics. Having lost their bid to host the event, the athlete’s village idea has been abandoned but the Council are still planning to proceed with a housing development in the area, necessitating the removal of the stone circle. However, largely as a result of pressure from the community and discussions between circle builder Duncan Lunan and the Council, a compromise agreement has been reached whereby the circle will be removed and reconstructed nearby, still within the present park environs.

In conjunction with this, a Facebook group was set up by Nick Fuller and Simone Muir to promote the development of a public labyrinth for Glasgow – something very close to my own heart ever since I was involved in locating the Edinburgh labyrinth. Discussions between Nick, Simone and Duncan led to the idea of a joint venture whereby a labyrinth would be included in whatever plan results from the relocation of the stones. Initially Nick produced a design for a 7-circuit labyrinth that would incorporate the aligned stones of the circle into a combination space – but after I pointed out that the two spaces are not ideal companions and generally result in chaotic energy (stone rings are inherently masculine or yang and labyrinths are feminine or yin in nature), the proposal was modified to keep both constructions separate, but in a complementary setting if a suitable site could be found.

After various meetings with the planning department, it is now suggested that a site to the east of the current location of the circle although still within the area of the park might be suitable. The proposed site is at a lower altitude than the current one, and would be very close (within 27m) to the finished housing development, so much so that the circle would need to be raised on a constructed mound in order to have any chance of retaining anything like its existing astronomical sight lines. Currently the area is a sculpted heart-shaped amphitheatre, almost like a henge, surrounded on three sides by trees, so sight lines are severely limited. The presence of what appears to be a methane vent in the ground suggests that this area of ground is polluted from previous use – the vast St. Rollox Chemical Works and rail depot occupied much of this area at the end of the 19th Century, although a check on the National Library of Scotland georeferenced maps does not indicate any construction on this particular area:

GlasgowLabyrinth1_1894 overlay

The redevelopment would mean that the entire area would be stripped of topsoil to a depth of 3m to remove any contaminants before any building work commences, so hopefully any pollutants would be removed, and furthermore the site will require extensive landscaping before any construction of either circle or labyrinth proceeds.

The form of the finished site is still being developed by the architects. Yet the dualistic nature of the two spaces easily lends itself to the form of a yin-yang symbol, with the stone circle half elevated on a mound and the labyrinth accessed at ground level, with a spiral ramp leading up to the circle area. The difference in heights again emphasises the masculine/feminine dualism, and this could be reinforced in many ways, perhaps by including a water feature in the labyrinth half (this is only my suggestion – the design has not been finalised yet). My initial rough sketch looks like this:

sighthill stones

The alignment of the two spaces is vital to their successful integration, and it would be desirous to have them both aligned on the same significant astronomical axis, such as the summer solstice sunrise. Incorporating some standing stones into the labyrinth, either at the goal or node (or both) would help to delineate this. A dowsing survey of the site revealed that there is a suitable power centre ideally situated to place the goal of the labyrinth, and two energy leys suggest possible alignments for the labyrinth, one to the east-noth-east in particular would be a perfect alignment to place the centre of the stone circle on.

Obviously these will need to be checked and re-dowsed as the site is developed, but I am hopeful that we could maintain that particular energy ley to link the two spaces. It is certainly an encouraging start to the birth of a new sacred site, and one that is unique in its incorporation of both stone circle and labyrinth. The survey picture shows the power centre as a yellow pin, with the water veins in green and energy leys in red:


In truth, having surveyed the site, it feels much more suitable for a labyrinth than the relocated stone circle. With the closer proximity of trees and the proposed housing, the excellent sight lines and sense of isolation that the circle currently enjoys from its position at the summit of the park are bound to be compromised, and I feel it will be well-nigh impossible to recreate the wild atmosphere in what will inevitably be a domesticated environment. But given the choice between rebuilding the circle in a landscaped park and losing the stones completely, it seems like a reasonable compromise. Hopefully having the circle in a more public location will lead to increased interest in the astronomical aspects of it, which was after all the main intention of Duncan when the circle was constructed back in 1979. Now, 35 years later, perhaps it will at last reach its true potential.

Grahame Gardner
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