03 Mar Star cairns and art installations
Redesdale lies within the ‘Northumberland International Dark Sky Park’ which was unveiled in December 2013 as England’s first and Europe’s largest Dark Sky Park. Our remote landscape has some of the darkest skies in Europe – awarded gold tier designation by the International Dark Sky Association, making it officially the best place in England for people to go to enjoy sights such as the Milky Way, meteorite showers and the Aurora. This is one of the few areas in Europe where the night sky has been unchanged for centuries, undisturbed by the light-emitting developments of the modern world. When we look up at our stars, we know that centuries before us Mesolithic hunter-gatherers, Roman soldiers, medieval farmers, Border Reivers, kings, pilgrims and peasants have all shared the same view.
This project will develop a network of interactive star cairns within villages and sites such as Carter Bar. Each cairn will be built from natural stone and have a rotating steel top plate with holes positioned as in constellations. Using a torch or mobile phone, the visitor will be able to light the stars (holes in the plate) from beneath to reveal well-known and less-familiar constellations. Pivoting around the Pole Star, the visitor will be able to turn the top plate to align the constellations with the sky for that particular month.
Redesdale already has a number of prominent structures at viewpoints across the valley including Winter’s Gibbet, Padon Hill, the Ridsdale Engine House and Shittleheugh Bastle. The project will work with local communities to design and erect art installations at other key viewpoints around the valley. Potential sites that have been identified include Carter Bar and Carter Pike, Blakehope Nick (on the Forest Drive), and Corsenside Church.