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The Star of Caledonia - A new Scottish Border Landmark

Most travellers arriving in Scotland do so by using the M74, leaving England via Cumbria and crossing the "border" at Gretna, a town only known as a place of elopement and for often secret weddings. The Big Blue St Andrew cross style road sign "Welcome to Scotland - Failte Gu Alba" is all that announces to the driver that they have crossed into what many believe to be a separate country.

The gentle rolling fields of England's Cumbria simply gives way to the gentle rolling fields of the Scottish border lands. There are no mountains nothing that stands out to differentiate the transition.

But all that may be about to change. A project that was first developed nearly twenty years ago to help regenerate an area hit badly by the Foot & Mouth epidemic has finally received 5.5 million investment from Community Windpower Ltd. to finally get this a border landmark constructed.

It was back in 2011 that an idea by two men, American architect & designer Charles Jencks & Sri-Lankan/British designer Cecil Balmond named - "The Caledonian Star" won the competition for a border landmark's design. Despite planning permission approval in 2013, funding was not forth coming from Creative Scotland and the whole project has been shelved since. But now, as the UK & Scottish governments search for post COVID19 capital projects with which to kick start the economies, the new investment seems to have secured the go ahead for this particularly interesting one

So What is this Landmark project?

According to the body overseeing the project - The Gretna Landmark Trust(GLT)- the aim is to create a site: "to celebrate Scottish achievement and develop this border landmark as a symbol of Scotland’s creative power...

The Star of Caledonia is a project of form and landscape"

The Installation's construct is inspired by mathematics and physics and is a reflection of Scotland's contribution in these disciplines. More specifically it is an homage to the Victorian Scottish Scientist and physician James Clerk Maxwell who pioneered the idea that electromagnetic waves and light waves were essentially manifestations of the same thing - energy. In their presentation, The GLT describe the design as being of "three dimensional waveforms moving over the landscape and emerging as the Star. The movement of the energy is emphasized by the sharp lines created by triangular tapered steel.

James Clerk Maxwell - 13 June 1831 – 5 November 1879

The site situated just above the M74 would be expected to become a major visitor to the Border lands and would be expected to pay for itself relatively quickly much in the same was as "The Angel of the North" did at Gateshead. It is seen as an important element of regenerating this quiet corner of the British Island as well as ensuring the England/Scotland border is more than just anodyne road sign.

As a footnote it should be mentioned that Charles Jencks died in October 2019 never seeing his project come to fruition. He was a man of immense intellect and talent with interests spanning Architecture, design & landscaping as well as being an eminent writer and theoretician and one of the leading writers to expound "postmodernism."

Further Reading & Links

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