WHERE IS IT: North east of the city centre, just over the M8 motorway, near Springburn.
Once a marshy wasteland, the former chemical works site has been the focus of a massive regeneration project for the area of Sighthill, including housing, retail, schools, and the park itself. The park will retain its most unique attraction. The Sighthill Stone Circle is believed to be the first astronomically aligned stone circle to be built in the UK in over 3000 years.
The Sighthill Stone Circle was constructed in 1978 when the Glasgow Parks department asked astronomer and science-fiction writer Duncan Lunan to build them a “mini-Stonehenge.” While the City wanted a replica of an existing stone circle, Lunan explained that each construction had to fit its own alignment, factoring in date, latitude and skyline. Managing the astronomy project, he brought together a specialist team to find a suitable sight. The list was whittled down from eighteen to just one, Broomhill Park, the former site of the St. Rollox chemical plant. With the construction of the motorway, the wasteland was transformed into a park, and renamed Sighthill due to the spectacular view afforded from it. The name change was seen as a sign, and the location was locked.
The circle was constructed over the course of a year, and is dedicated to four outstanding researchers of ancient astronomy; Prof. Alexander Thom, Dr. Archie Thom, Prof. Archie Roy and Dr. Euan MacKie. Work continued until a change in government in the 1979 election, the year Margaret Thatcher came into power, saw funds for the project cut. As Duncan Lunan explains, “The 17 stones originally planned are all in place, but as a goodwill gesture the Beltmoss Quarry supplied five extra stones. That proved to be just as well because one big one broke during delivery. After the original circle was completed by helicopter, the late John Braithwaite and I proposed a phase 2, in which two of the unused stones would be placed to mark equinox sunrise and set, and the last two would support a plaque to say when and how the circle was built, and how it works. In 2002 the Sighthill Community Artist and I gained agreement from the City Council to fund regrading and completing the circle, but it never happened, and the unused stones are still lying under a tree to this day.”
To make matters worse, Glasgow City Council wished to remove the stones, citing their bid for the 2018 Youth Olympics as the reason. Although that bid failed, the council had to test the ground for contamination due to the former chemical plant, despite it being tested 30 years ago when the circle was constructed. After a successful petition led by Duncan Lunan, the stone circle was temporarily removed in 2016 while redevelopment took place, and reinstalled in 2019, in the original position that Lunan had originall wanted nearly 40 years previously.
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