Saving Sighthill Stones

BSD member Tom Jones visiting the site, with Duncan Lunan and BSD President Grahame Gardner
BSD member Tom Jones visiting the site, with circle designer Duncan Lunan and BSD President Grahame Gardner

The Sighthill Stone Circle is a modern astronomically-aligned stone ring that was designed and built in 1979 under the direction of local astronomer and SF writer Duncan Lunan. It is situated in the centre of Glasgow right next to the M8 motorway, and is almost certainly the first astronomically-aligned circle built in Scotland for over 3000 years (I have blogged about it before here and here).

When I first dowsed the circle many years ago, it looked pretty neglected and I was unable to dowse any earth energies of interest within it. All ancient stone rings (as well as many of the more recent ones) are found by dowsers to be sited on confluences of underground water and earth energies, which give the space a particular energetic configuration. The Sighthill stones were placed without any consideration of such things during construction, so the site had little of dowsing interest. Now however, things have improved as the site is regularly visited by local pagan and druid groups using it for ritual and ceremonies to mark the cycle of the year, as well as families visiting for a picnic, or perhaps scattering the ashes of a departed loved one, and a growing number of tourists. On a recent visit on a freezing cold lunchtime in March this year, I visited the site to meet up with fellow dowser Tom Jones, who was passing through Glasgow on his way to Orkney, and site designer Duncan Lunan and his wife Linda. After introductions, I quickly got down to a spot of dowsing with my Aurameter in one hand and Android phone in the other, to GPS plot my findings using the excellent Dowsing Apps.

I was pleased to see that there is now a well-defined energy ley along the major axis of the circle towards the solstice sunset, and a weaker water vein running approximately north-south across the centre; a clear result of the increased patronage and ritual use of the circle. The dowsing survey  also shows the outline in yellow of the disused Buchanan Street railway tunnel that tangentially crosses the site.

Sighthill stones dowse
Dowsing survey of the circle. The red line marks a water vein, the green is an energy line defining the major axis of the site, and the yellow is the course of the disused Buchanan Street rail tunnel.

The vista from the circle has also improved immensely since I created my Stellarium landscape for it, with the demolition of several of the high-rise flats to the north and west. The tall chimney of the former distillery to the northwest has also gone, allowing the natural ground contour to show through at the summer solstice sunset position; so the site is really fulfilling its promise as a practical and educational observatory. Not bad since Duncan’s calculations at the time were done by hand, without the benefit of today’s computerised astronomy programs.

Duncan has recently published a book “The Stones and the Stars” about the construction of the circle, so things were looking good for the site, until that is Glasgow City Council announced plans to demolish the circle and completely redevelop the area as preparation for Glasgow’s bid to host the 2018 Youth Olympics. This would involve removing up to three metres of topsoil from the entire area to remove any possible contaminants from previous site use and the complete demolition of the circle.

The Council have recently back-pedalled furiously on this plan as the result of an online ‘Save the Stones’ petition, saying that they would preserve the site by relocating it elsewhere; completely missing the point of it being sited where it is because of the excellent sightlines it has to the horizon in almost all quadrants. That’s why it’s called ‘Sighthill’. Even preserving the circle as a feature and building the Olympic Village around it (as has also been suggested), will negate the use of it as a calendric observatory by obscuring the necessary horizon lines with buildings.

The online petition to save the stones now has over 3,400 signatures and the Facebook page has over 600. There is cross-party support from MSPs, celebrities, and ordinary people across the city and around the world.

The Spring Equinox of 20 March 2013 sees a gathering of pagans, druids, sympathisers and other folk of like mind to draw attention to the plight of the circle. There will be walking and cycling tours passing through, with origami classes and other impromptu events throughout the course of the day, from sunrise at 06:19 to the main event, sunset at 18:31. Please come along and show your support for the stones. Further details will be posted on the Facebook page.

Duncan will be giving a talk about the circle on 10 April 2013 at Carnegie Library in Ayr at 19:00, for details of that go to this page. You can sign the online petition here.

Sighthill stones 2011
Duncan at the stones 2011. Photograph by Linda Lunan.

Grahame Gardner
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