Along the upper reaches of the River Nith in Southern Scotland, the legacy of coal and other mining lies dotted across the landscape.
Crawick is no exception, and was home to an open cast coal mine in decades past. It did not produce enough black gold to continue digging, and so operations ceased, leaving the site abandoned.
The Duke of Buccleuch, who owns the land, explored options for restoration of the vast 55 acre site and saw huge potential. And so he committed £1 million to an ambitious project to take the derelict site and put it back on the map as a world-class artland and visitor attraction.
In 2005, The Duke of Buccleuch invited the world-renowned landscape artist Charles Jencks to the site and reviewed its potential not only for restoration, but a total transformation. At first glance he saw what he described as ‘dull ground, rocks…the end of nature’, but as he studied the site he saw a wealth of exciting possibilities.
Instead of seeing an industrial wasteland, he saw the bones of a marvellous ecology.
The terrain offered a ready-made meadow, a desert, a gorge and a brook. The dropping of excess slag had even created a ridge which offered panoramic views of the beautiful surrounding valleys. This, coupled with the breathtaking wider landscape, helped Jencks’ vision take shape.
Work commenced in 2012, and as machinery arrived on site for the first time in many years, tonnes of earth and some 2,000 boulders were excavated, heralding a new phase in the development. These materials were incorporated into the design and make it the distinctive landmark it is today.
In 2015 Crawick Multiverse was ready to open to the public for the first time. The site links the themes of space, astronomy and cosmology with a network of paths navigating features and landforms that represent the sun, universes, galaxies, black holes, comets and much more.
This beautiful and inspiring landscape has something for everyone, from art enthusiasts and scientists to the wider community.
Crawick launched with a spectacular week of events in June 2015. First came the community preview event, where local schools, pipe bands and choirs all came together to experience the Multiverse. This was followed by a spectacular launch event that saw sculpted costume, dance-theatre, poetry and over 30 performers taking the audience on a truly unique journey through space and time.
Hundreds of local school children created a spectacular poppy display on site ahead of Remembrance Day 2016.
Around 400 poppies were created, with each red poppy made in memory of each local person who lost their life during WWI, WWII and the Korean War, and black poppies made in memory of local miners.
The poppies were arranged with assistance from an artist, and pupils from Sanquhar and Kelloholm Primaries, Closeburn House School and Sanquhar Academy took part in a Remembrance parade.
After many months of designing and construction, a major new artwork by Charles Jencks was unveiled on site. Galactic Collisions represents the birth of a billion new stars as galaxies collide.
A launch event was held on site with spectacular costumed performers. An exhibition accompanied the event called Cosmic Collisions: birth, rebirth and the universe and included a series of talks by some of the world’s leading cosmologists and architects
‘The Coalface’ opened to the public for the first time on the 1st May 2021. The name was chosen as a nod to the sites coal mining heritage and as this gives The Crawick Multiverse Trust a permanent base on site, we will now be working at ‘The Coalface’!
The eco-friendly building has an office, kiosk selling tickets and a range of drinks, snacks and branded item, toilets, changing facilities and an undercover exhibition space.
Along with the addition of The Coalface facilities, the carpark and signage were also updated and improved, all to enhance visitor experience at the Crawick Multiverse.
As The Crawick Multiverse Trust explore the future of the site as an outdoor events venue, August 2021 saw the site host a 2 day music festival.
The family friendly Music at the Multiverse was set in the fabulous Sun amphitheatre in the heart of the Multiverse and featured a variety of musicians.
Following the success of this pilot event the Trust hopes the Crawick Multiverse will host many more outdoor events.