I’ve previously discussed the Oxfordshire prehistoric ceremonial complex known as the Rollright Stones. The stones have their own useful website here and they appear on the Megalithic Portal. I’ve commented critically on the art at medieval castle sites on this blog repeatedly, including for Kidwelly and Cilgerran Castles. In castle contexts, art occupies empty spaces in a temporary and removable fashion but doesn’t really intervene with the flow of movement of visitors through the space. At Rollright the situation is different as of the summer of 2018.
Visiting in August ’18, I was struck by the very different result of a temporary art exhibition: Re-imagining the Ring. It is created by ‘young people’ mentored by established artists. The inspiration was as much from legends and folklore as from Prehistory. The aim was to ‘fill gaps’ in the King’s Men to ‘create its original sense of enclosure.’ Here are the details of the installations and ‘some curatorial thoughts’ for all to see. As stated, the names for the art were attributed on site, not by the artists themselves.
This has been added above the permanent heritage display board giving archaeological information about the site.
Rather than pass comment, I will leave it to you, dear reader/viewer, to think about how these temporary installations, individually and collective, relate to the prehistoric monument. Specifically, I’m interested in whether they afford a sense of completing the now-partial stone circle. Are they just filling formal gaps, or drawing on elements of stories and associations to create this fuller sense of enclosure?
Incidentally, I want to point out that I tweeted a critical response to one of the visitors I overheard complaining about the ‘honest box’. If there’s any doubt, let’s be clear: the Rollright Stones are not only ‘value for money’, they are a unique open-access prehistoric monumental complex in the south Midlands that everyone should visit and support.