Thursday, 22 July 2010

Recumbant Homage

Until the other day, we'd walked, driven or ridden past this artifact on the corner of Robert Gordon College's former Seafield playing fields a hundred times without giving it more thought than:

"Mmm, that piece of contemporary sculpture references the prehistoric stone circles and cairns of the North East."

And, right enough, so it does. But a close-up look is rewarding. The 'cairn' forms a sit-down viewing platform, and itself contains references to pictish symbol stones and the saucer marked stones which bounded our city in the pre-medieval era.

The 'recumbent' and 'flankers' are characterised by modern-style rule-marker metrology symbols which remind us that the recumbent stone circles of Aberdeenshire are not some superstitious pagan's mystic temples, but are, in fact, accurate observatories used to divine and define important days in the agricultural and social calendar through careful observation and measurement of the wheeling of the cosmos and the motion of the planets and moon.

The people who build the stone circles of Aberdeenshire had a keen interest in knowing exactly how their communities fitted into the entirety of the cosmos, and used their stone calendars/observatories to gain levels of insight into the true nature of the universe which were not surpassed by western civilization until after the Renaissance and Enlightenment.

We should know that we are lucky to live on the same land as these pioneers of cosmology. The contemporary sculpture on Thorngrove Avenue honors them.

You should still go and see a real recumbent stone circle, though.

1 comment:

Ken said...

The sculpture was commissioned through the Scottish Sculpture Workshop in Lumsden, by Stewart Milne Homes when they built the houses on the former playing fields.

If I recall correctly (I was working as a consultant with them at the time) it was by a Japanese artist.