The site of Crawick Multiverse was once a sprawling open cast coalmine. Thanks to the imagination of Charles Jencks and the generosity of the landowner the barren site was transformed into a work of art. The imprint of the mine provided an interesting space for the artist to work with. However, the reformation of the site is nothing short of extraordinary.
Crawick Multiverse is an artistic landscape, with unique landforms which are based around the themes of space, astronomy, and cosmology. A network of paths connect structures and landforms that represent the sun, universes, galaxies, black holes, comets and more. Every element of Crawick Multiverse has been constructed using materials found within its original site. This includes over 2,000 boulders which were half-buried below the surface of the ground.
The site is nestled amongst beautiful surrounding valleys near Sanquhar in Dumfries and Galloway. Crawick Multiverse is open to the public and is a family and dog friendly site. Excellent facilities have been added this year to make this site even more appealing for visitors.
Our visit to Crawick Multiverse
Crawick Multiverse is a beautiful site with intersecting paths connecting fantastical features. As you walk around the site you are taken on a journey past galaxies, universes, comets and much more. As we navigated around the site we couldn’t help but get lost in conversation about space and our universe. It didn’t take long for our surroundings to inspire us!
We were fascinated to discover that the materials found on the former coal site have been recycled to create the landscape. It serves to make Crawick Multiverse even more impressive.
The first thing that caught my eye was the spiral galaxies of Andromeda and the Milky Way. They are represented by two spiralling grassy mounds standing at 25 and 15 metres high. Most other galaxies are travelling away from us but these two are heading towards one another. Pictured below is my mum and I on the milky way. Racing to see who could get to the top of spiralling mound first.
The Highest Point
One of my favorite parts of Crawick Multiverse was the climb up to the highest point of the site, Belvedere. This is called the comet walk. At the top we were spoiled with a spectacular 20-mile 360-degree panoramic view of the surrounding area. We even noticed a train viaduct in the distance that we previously hadn’t spotted. The void is situated at the base of this hill. It mirrors the shape of the Belvedere, inverted into the ground. This picture shows my mum below standing in the void which she told us was very sheltered from the wind!
This beautiful and inspiring landscape has something for everyone, from art enthusiasts and scientists to everyone else in between. We saw many people ambling along walking their dogs. There were also several families exploring the features together. There are also handy information boards at every turn. We genuinely left feeling a little more informed about the planet and universe we inhabit.
After a few hours of exploring the landscape, we finally retraced our steps back to the ‘Coal Face’ where we relaxed and enjoyed a picnic. There is a new toilet block and refreshments can also be purchased here. Water bowls and outdoors taps are available here for those bringing their four legged friends. They really have thought of everything.
Timeline for Crawick Multiverse
May 1980 –Crawick was once home to an open cast coal mine. It eventually closed as it was not producing enough coal. The site was left abandoned until the Duke of Bucceleuch (landowner) saw potential to restore it as a world class art land. He kindly invested £1 million pounds to the exciting new project.
May 2005 – The Duke of Buccleuch invited the world-renowned landscape artist Charles Jencks to the site. Charles Jencks reviewed its potential not only for restoration, but with a plan to turn it into a work of art. The abandoned site offered a ready-made canvas, a desert, a gorge and a brook. Jencks used this along with the excellent panoramic views of the beautiful surrounding valleys to turn his vision into reality.
May 2012 – Machinery arrived on site for the first time in a long time. Tonnes of earth and 2000 boulders were dug up. These materials were used in the design to create the magnificent landscape we see today.
May 2015 – Crawick Multiverse opens to the public for the first time.
May 2021 – ‘The Coalface’ was opened. This is the hub of operations where you will always find a member of staff ready to help. There are also toilets, changing facilities and a picnic area here.
We thought ‘The Coalface’ was a very fitting name for the new hub.
A bit about the designer – Charles Jencks (21 June 1939 – 13 October 2019)
Charles Jancks was a globally renowned cultural theorist, architectural historian, landscape designer and the co-founder of the Maggie’s Centre. In short, he was a pretty remarkable man.
He first described the site at Crawick as ‘dull ground, rocks… the end of nature.’ Not exactly a glowing review! However, as he studied the wasteland, he saw how it was possible to turn the barren space into a garden. Thanks to his vision and talent he was able to transform the barren space into the beautiful landscape we can visit today.
Charles continued to have involvement with the site until his death in 2019. He added an additional feature to the original design and advised on the development and maintenance of the site. The site is one of the final legacies that Charles left for us all to enjoy.
The site offers a range of walks, from easy to challenging. The length of a walk, changeable terrain and weather can make a walk more difficult than planned. We recommend that you come prepared with suitable footwear and clothing.
Many of the steep slopes and paths are not suitable for wheelchair users and visitors with other mobility issues, however access the centre of the main site is possible. You can contact Crawick Multiverse direct to arrange.
We thoroughly recommend a visit to this wonderful landscape. It is a fascinating place to visit. If you have kids there is plenty to keep them entertained as you explore together. The site is still relatively quiet and unknown, so this is the perfect time to visit! We promise, you won’t regret it.
Remember no matter where you go to take only pictures and leave only footprints so that Scotland’s beauty can be enjoyed by everyone who visits.
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