Sighthill Stone Circle Campaign, Summer 2013
by Duncan and Linda Lunan
The Sighthill stone circle is the first astronomically aligned one to be constructed in the British Isles for at least 3500 years. It was built in Sighthill Park in Glasgow, overlooking the M8 motorway due north of the city centre, as part of the Jobs Creation and Special Temporary Employment Programmes in 1978-79. Duncan designed it as Project Manager, with the late John Braithwaite as Technical Supervisor; the stones came from Beltmoss Quarry in Kilsyth and the layout was completed by a Royal Navy helicopter at the spring equinox of 1979. The circle is dedicated to the late Prof. Alexander Thom, Dr. Archie Thom, Prof. Archie Roy, and to Dr. Euan MacKie, all experts in the field and former staff members of Glasgow University. The full story to the middle of 2012 is told in Duncan’s book “The Stones and the Stars, Building Scotland’s Newest Megalith”, which was published by Springer in November 2012 and is available from Amazon, Waterstones, W.H. Smiths and other bookstores and chains.
Just after the book was published, Development and Regeneration Services of Glasgow City Council declared their intention to destroy the circle and the park in order to show that Glasgow was serious about bidding for the 2018 Youth Olympics, whose Athletes’ Village would be constructed on the site. A campaign to save the circle was immediately begun by Mandy Collins, and by July 2nd the online petition has nearly 3850 signatures, plus another 600-plus on Facebook.
Duncan gave a talk about the circle and the campaign at the Ogilvie Centre of St. Aloysius Church on Thursday 20th June, after which we went up to the circle to see the sunset, which is in virtually the same place for three days either side of the summer solstice. At the solstice on Friday 21st there was a second talk at the circle itself, followed by a Druid/pagan ritual with over 70 people. Both evenings were cloudy but nevertheless the events went well. Many of the participants were in costume and the circle was decorated with ribbons, lanterns, flowers and offering of food and drink, especially fruit.
The solstice ritual (known as Litha Ritual) began with a procession, summoned by a conch shell and led from the east by a drummer, which came into the stone circle and formed a circle of people around the central stone. The major participants representing Earth (north), Sky (east) Water (west), and Fire (south) moved sunwise (deosil) around the group, before placing lit cauldrons and a basket of paper ribbons at the central stone. Earth and Sky took lit cauldrons to stand guard either side of the entrance way on the east, while Water picked up the ribbons and welcomed the people into the circle, handing each a ribbon with the words, “Enter this circle and celebrate the Summer Solstice with us this night”. Sky and Earth blessed them as they pass between the cauldron fires and when everyone was within, the circle was cast to cut its interior off from the mundane world.
In the pagan part of the ritual, all were welcomed to the circle to celebrate the Summer solstice, as the longest day of the year and the pinnacle of the Sun God’s reign, when the Goddess (mother Earth) is pregnant with agricultural bounty and livestock waiting for their young.
The four Quarters then called upon their respective symbolic creatures: the Eagle, symbol of freedom of thought and expression, to bring inspiration and creativity to all in the sacred circle; the Honey Bee, Symbol of community and hard work, to bring this community together in celebration and in their work to Save our Stones, bringing healing to all present; the Bull, symbol of the wealth of knowledge and potency of spirit that illuminate the city, was asked for advice and aid to save this sacred place for future generations; and the Wolf, symbol of our primal nature, was asked to bring courage and strength to all within the sacred circle. Each speaker asked for peace in his or her quarter of the world, ending with the words “Blessed Be”. Ancestors of Blood, Land and Spirit were invoked, then Mother Earth and Father Sun.
In the Druidic part of the ceremony the five main participants formed a pentagram around the centre stone and led a chant known as the AWEN to raise the vibrational energy within the circle. This was followed by Herb planting and Blessing for the stone circle, passing around a bead of Hematite and asking each person to focus on Saving the Stones and seeing them flourish for Glasgow. (Hematite absorbs negativity and is used to procure favourable legal decisions. “Hopefully close enough!” said the organiser.) With bead placed in a pot bottom and covered with soil, a seed was planted and blessed with water. The paper wishes (on environmentally friendly rice paper) were then distributed, each to be imbued with a visualised personal wish and tied when circle was opened to a nearby hawthorn tree, which has grown on the line of midsummer sunset.
The Four Directions and the circle caster were then called to the centre and a simple feast was held, blessing the food and drink and offering some to the Earth as they were passed around. Then after thanks to the Goddess and God, thanks to the Ancestors, thanks to the Directions and to the Land, the circle was uncast, participants tied ribbons to the wish Tree, and there was general socialising, ended only by the growing darkness and ferocity of the midges.
On the 23rd the West Kintyre Astronomical Society had asked Duncan to speak before sunset at the Ballochroy standing stones, from where the midsummer Sun would set over Jura as the Full Moon rises – and it would be a ‘supermoon’, appearing larger than usual because it will be at its monthly closest to the Earth. Sadly the ferry from Ardrossan to Campbeltown was cancelled on the day due to high winds, and conditions at Sighthill were no better.
During July Glasgow City Council will be making new planning applications for the Sighthill area, with public consultation, and there will be two concerts to draw attention to that. The first is a Folk and Acoustic Concert in the Blythswood Room of the Mitchell Library, Glasgow, on the afternoon of Saturday 13th July, continuing at the stone circle after 5 pm if the weather permits. The stars will be members of the Whistlebinkies and others taking part include Ajna Starheart, Gareth Paterson, Stewart Horn and Christy Connor-Vernal. The acoustic concert is free but there will be a collection in aid of campaign funds.
The second event is a large pop concert at Platform in Easterhouse, organised by Stuart Braithwaite of Mogwai, whose father was my second-in-command when I built the circle in 1978-79. The Platform concert will feature Stuart Braithwaite, Aidan Moffat, Eugene Kelly, Emma Pollock, Remember Remember, RM Hubbert, Adele Bethel (DJ) and special guests The Twilight Sad. Platform have kindly agreed to donate profits from the pop concert as well.
By the time of those events we will know a great deal more about the future of the stone circle and what the tone of those events will be. To keep apace with developments please keep watching our website, www.sighthillstonecircle.net, sign the petition (under Save Our Stones) if you haven’t already done so, and be ready to take part in the public comments on the planning applications starting on July 5th.