Town mouse visits Drumlanrig Castle

The music of time.

I wasn’t at Drumlanrig Castle for the conference on Charles Jencks’s Multiverse; I fear the science would have gone over my head. Multiverse sounds as if it might be a brand of washing machine, but is actually a term to denote the latest astronomical theories, according to which billions of universes, some infinitely small, are present at the same time (if time exists).

I think that’s the gist of what my friends said when I joined them in Dumfriesshire the following day. I’d come for the best part: a tour of Jencks’s new Multi-verse landscape, composed of mounds, swirls and standing stones.

This is a garden of ideas in the tradition of Stowe. If I didn’t quite follow all the ideas, that didn’t detract from the joy of walking the extraordinary land forms, created, in an act of public-spirited patronage in the best traditions of his family, by the Duke of Buccleuch. Previously, the 55-acre site had been a redundant open-cast mine.

The result is astounding, sculptural, epic. Strange instruments made out of lengths of plastic tube were being played in preparation for a ceremony the next morning, Midsummer’s Day. The musicians had found that a hollow called the Navel of the Earth was a wonderful place for their speakers.


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