Soft archaeology: Funhenge on Glasgow Green

Glasgow Green henge

Since the weekend, Glasgow Green has been playing – in every sense – host to a major experiential art installation by Jeremy Deller that is part of the run up to the 2012 Olympics.

‘Welcome to Sacrilege’ is proclaims joyfully, from its location near the Nelson Memorial on the Green.

And is sacrilege attractive.


From some angles, the floor looks like a furrowed field that’s sprouted some strange produce.

A school party arrived, in their orange sweatshirts, with a teacher in a suit over his own sweatshirt and they all mixed it with the mums and toddlers, visitors and grannies who were playing, joyfully and unselfconsciously, on and around this lifesize, accurate and inflatable Stonehenge.

henge glasgow

There were bouncings. boundings, hurlings against the megaliths, collapses for a breather, group bounces, hide and seeks.

You can’t get near the real thing any more but oh boy, you can get up close and very personal with this one.

The ‘stones’ are surprisingly hefty. You can throw yourself at them with impunity – but you know you’ve met.

stoneweegie 4

You take your shoes off and if it’s been raining, the water does collect on the bouncing floor and you do get your socks wet – but only wimps would worry about that. What’s wet grass?

This turns the world upside down. These ‘stones’ don’t demand reverence, They scream ‘Come and get me’.

Adults find they’ve had their licence to play restored to them after the ban than useless maturity imposes.

No one can hope to be dignified when they can’t  stand straight or keep their balance on this active surface so folk just forget it and get on with the fun.

You can see people starting off just bouncing, then getting more inventive, then teaming up in impromptu mass playfulness and daft game strategies, then splitting and going off in separate directions but somehow lighter footed than when they arrived.

stoneweegie 6

The henge is roped off with an entrance that service the purpose of making sure that everyone sees the notice with the very few basic instructions :

  • no ‘eyewear’ – for obvious reasons;
  • shoes off (leave them on a plastic sheet  around the edge of the circle);
  • don’t go behind the stones that are near the edge – as you might bounce off in an uncontrolled sort of way in a narrow space and hit the ground.

There are attendants with whistles to remind you if you get over ambitious.

‘Sacrilege’ is open from midday to 6.00pm daily. It’s free, its light hearted, it’s fun, it’s for everyone, it lets you lark around in a way you’d really like to do in a lot of archaeological sites but feel constrained by ‘history’.

stoneweegie 5

And on the skyline, some modern hard henges look like they’re quite curious about a conversation with the newbie that’s getting all the attention.

Paul Hadfield

The photographs accompanying this article are by Paul Hadfield

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One Response to Soft archaeology: Funhenge on Glasgow Green

  1. Pingback: Bouncy Stonehenge! | Lest We Forget

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