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Historic Environment Scotland designates Crawick Multiverse

Home | News | Historic Environment Scotland designates Crawick Multiverse

Work of land art regeneration in Dumfriesshire recognised as nationally important

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) has today (Thursday 4 April) added Crawick Multiverse to the inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes.

The site was nominated to be considered for designation by a member of the public as part of HES’s ‘Designed Landscapes of the Recent Past’ project, an initiative to identify and champion Scotland’s remarkable modern gardens and designed landscapes.

Located near Sanquhar in Dumfries and Galloway, Crawick Multiverse is of outstanding artistic and historical interest as an example of early 21st century land art. It was designed and constructed on the site of a former open-cast coal mine by renowned landscape architect Charles Jencks between 2011 and 2017. It is now run by The Crawick Multiverse Trust, who operate the site as a visitor attraction, unique destination and outdoor venue.

Charles Jencks (1936-2019) was an internationally renowned land artist, cultural theorist (particularly of Postmodernism), and architectural historian. Crawick Multiverse was his final land art project and his largest completed work in the UK, though his work can be found across the globe from India to South Korea.

Jencks designed Crawick Multiverse to explore cosmology, prehistory, and connections to the past through the theory of the ‘multiverse’. Features in the landscape convey a sense of the universe and its rhythms, from the standing stone avenue through the North-South Line, which evokes prehistoric stone monuments like the Neolithic Calanais (or Callanish) Standing Stones on the Isle of Lewis, to the Omphalos, which signifies both the geological and mythical interior of the Earth.

Crawick Multiverse covers an area of 22.5 hectares of land – over 36 football pitches – and is significant for its ambitious scale, visual and conceptual design integrity. Designed as a land regeneration project for public access, the Multiverse enriches the local community and connects its visitors to both the industrial history of the area and the prehistory of the British Isles.

Philip Robertson, Deputy Head of Designations at HES, said: “Crawick Multiverse is an excellent addition to the inventory. Many of the ideas Charles Jencks explored throughout his illustrious career culminate at a massive scale here, and the site has artistic, cultural and historical significance.

“Gardens and designed landscapes of the recent past such as Crawick Multiverse are an important element of Scotland’s historic environment and landscape. However, they are not always valued as much as older sites. It’s important to record, recognise and promote awareness of these sites through our work.”

Patrick Lorimer, Trustee at The Crawick Multiverse Trust said“As trustees we are delighted that Historic Environment Scotland has recognised the importance and unique nature of Crawick Multiverse and considered it to be worthy of a inclusion in their ‘Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes’ as part of their recent initiative to identify and celebrate Scotland’s modern gardens and designed landscapes. It is a rare and special accolade to be recognised in this way and a fitting tribute to Charles Jencks and his significant contribution to land art in the UK and across the world.” 

About the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes 

Gardens and designed landscapes are an important element of Scotland’s historic environment and landscape. Inventory sites range from country estate landscapes and botanic garden collections to urban parks and cemeteries.

HES selects nationally important sites for the Inventory in line with its Designations Policy and Selection Guidance.

When a garden and designed landscape is included on the inventory it becomes a material consideration in the planning process. This means that it has to be taken into account when deciding planning applications.

About the Designed Landscapes of the Recent Past project 

Designed Landscapes of the Recent Past’ is an initiative to identify, recognise and celebrate Scotland’s modern garden and designed landscape heritage. It focuses on sites dating from 1945 to the early 2000s in Scotland.

The aim of the programme is to improve representation of these sites in our publicly available records. We are doing this through photographic survey and recording, updating information and images, and considering a select number sites for designation on the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes.

Photo of Charles Jencks and the Duke of Buccleuch by D Cheskin. Photos of Crawick Multiverse by Mike Bolam.

This project is part-financed by the Scottish Government and the European Union – LEADER 2014-2020 programme
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