Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Keppel Henge

To continue the story of Keppel Croft Garden, perhaps its most fascinating feature is the Keppel Henge that has been erected in the field behind the garden.  A genuine stone circle on a mound surrounded by a ditch, this is a henge designed as a way to celebrate the millenium in 2000.
This is the view as you approach the henge.  It was designed to throw shadows that would indicate celestial events such as the solstices and the equinox, usually tied to sunrise or sunset.  Thus each individual stone has a name and is placed in such a way as to be astronomically in the correct location, while the taller thin 'Pointer Stone' is in the centre to cast a shadow.

You approach the field through another bit of whimsy, this interesting gate which certainly leaves you with the feeling that you're going someplace special.  Then you follow a mowed trail through the tall grass until you emerge into the henge.

The stone closest to us in this picture is the Winter Solstice Stone, while the stone on the left is the Winter Sunset Stone.  On the far right is the Winter Sunrise Stone, and second from the left is the Summer Sunset Stone.  Note the allignment of smaller stones running south to north in the centre, all of which have a purpose.

The pointer stone is marble rather than limestone like all the rest (which came from a local quarry), and it is taller, and on a small mound in the centre of the circle.  Construction of the henge was a major undertaking, especially in getting all stones in the astronomically correct locations, and was accompanied by appropriate ceremony.  A fascinating garden feature!

As if that wasn't enough, there are two analemmatic sundials nearby.  In this one, your own body becomes the gnomon casting the shadow.  The smaller vertical stones represent the hours of the day, and the flat concrete date scale is the base on which you stand - in slightly different positions depending on the month of the year.  The plaque on the taller post provides the instructions..

 Here I'm standing on the month of July, and my shadow falls between 11 and 12 a.m.; it was just past 11.30.  I'm so intrigued by this I'm thinking of trying it in our own back yard.

There are a number of other small constructed 'zen' stone gardens along the path through the field, which look to me like fascinating pieces of art.  The henge is just visible in the background right against the trees.

 And of course there is more whimsy as you leave the field through the thyme garden.

Remember the cobble beach I said the garden was built on?  This is the beach today; millions of perfect skipping stones.  The ancient beaches Keppel Croft is built on are at a higher level, from a time when glacial lakes pushed the shoreline higher, but imagine building a garden on a bed of stones!

This is what lets Big Bay claim to be the 'Stone Skipping Capital of Canada'.

The Keppel Henge and the sundial are a project of both the Keppel Croft gardeners and a neighbour.  You can find a lot more interesting details on the garden's website.  All in all a very fascinating place!

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  1. How interesting... I love that gate--and I'm fascinated by all of the different stones and am really fascinated about the sundial and the shadows... What a fabulous place...

    My kids used to love to skip rocks. They'd love skipping rocks at that place...


  2. Wow, looks like an interesting place! And full of inspiration for one's own garden. I think I'll share this on Facebook.

  3. It's absolutely beautiful! We're going to make a point of visiting next summer. Some years back I found instructions for making a sundial. I designed it all on paper but never got around to doing it on the ground. Might be a great project for the garden when this heat breaks.

  4. What an interesting gate and Henge, and especially that there are people with the time and focus to build such things. Thanks for sharing.

  5. This is all so wonderfully fascinating!
    I wouldn't mind trying to create this in my backyard, as well!

  6. Thank you all for visiting; hope you'll come again. The henge really was quite a major project for a garden, and it is a unique place to visit.