Past Inspired Sculpture 7

Sculpture in the public domain faces environmental conditions which slowly change the appearance of the piece.  Unlike, cosseted gallery pieces, they are subject to greater weathering and vandalism.

I recently revisited a piece where this change and growth had become really striking since my first visit.  It is a wonderful piece of red sandstone carved in 1996 by artist Tim Pomeroy.


Entitled Tree of People it portrays elements of the past, people emerge from the base of the trunk of the stone tree.  Particular trades and professions, such as weaver and miner, soldier and teacher (some of which are now historical) hold tools of the past.



Tree of People 3

It also represents other monumental forms of stone, on one side of the sculpture a hand cradles Hamilton Mausoleum.

Tree of People 4

Tree of People 5

Above all the surface of the piece now reveals the ongoing interaction between the stone and its environment.  Slowly transforming from warm glowing red sandstone, to speckled greys and greens of mosses and lichens.

The stone tree of people is increasingly permeated with organic life.

Tree of People 6

Tree of People 7


Tree of People 8

Perhaps, with its inspirations from the past, if we pause and look, it can also slowly grow and sustains cultural life?

Perhaps it helps connects us to the roots, to our trees of people?

Tree of People 9



The pictures were taken from 2004, 2012 and 2015.

For other examples of Past Inspired Sculpture please see:

Past Inspired Sculpture 6

Past Inspired Sculpture 5

Past Inspired Sculpture 4

Past Inspired Sculpture 3

Past Inspired Sculpture 2

Past Inspired Sculpture 1



Mac-Talla Nan Creag

Mac-Talla Nan Creag 3When I received a copy of Mac-Talla Nan Creag from Forestry Commission Scotland archaeologist Matt Ritchie I was interested in hearing what had been produced.  I had previously managed to see an insert from the Mac-Talla Nan Creag LP and was aware the work engaged with the laser scanning of several prehistoric archaeological sites by AOC Archaeology Group.

Four archaeological sites which have survived to this day from Scottish prehistory and are currently on land managed by Forestry Commission Scotland

Mac-Talla Nan Creag 1Caisteal Grugaig an Iron Age Broch

Ormaig Neolithic rock-art

Bucharn Bronze-Age burial cairn

Kraiknish Iron Age dun

were subject to laser scans producing point cloud data which provided the basis of some of the artwork.

What I had seen before as outputs from the laser scan were some striking digital images from the survey of archaeological sites : but to be honest I was a bit doubtful as to whether the resulting music would be of merit.

Mac-Talla Nan Creag 2So I listened to the CD

Mac-Talla Nan Creag 5and was immediately drawn in by the rhythmic tension of the first track NR 8720 9577 and then taken by the wonderful lyrics and vocals of ‘Where the Corries Hold the Snow’ (Track 2)

‘What is your idea of North,

to what places do you go,

to the lands beyond the Forth,

where the corries hold the snow’.

The album is a fine mix of electronica and traditional folk : blended with found sounds and marked nods to world music and esoterica.  Tracks are in some cases primordial (Track 6 – EternalDawnAndGloaming) and in other cases, while in danger of touching on playful Scottish kitsch, instead produce a fresh cyclical dirge (Track 5 – Dearg Agus Dearg).  Others evoke traditions of Gaelic song, the deeply soulful (Track 8 – 3rd Pass) (which I must confess produced tears : I have a soft spot for certain vocals), while others are reminiscent of how we may imagine shamanic chants from ceremonies past (Track 9 – Invocation).  A chiming glitchy interlude of NG 8663 2508 (Track 14).  The album finishes with the pulsing 18 minute epic Caisteal Grugaig (Track 16).  Mac-Talla Nan Creag is beautiful and uplifting album, an interesting conduit to the remains of the past, to which I will listen to over and over…

There has also been the bonus of introducing me to the work of some wonderful musicians, Wounded Knee, Lord of the Isles, Other Lands and House of Traps : who appear to have worked collectively in the production of different tracks.   It is this aspect of the process of making which is also of significance.  Other forms of collective collaboration is something the heritage sector could benefit greatly from in terms of how we approach the production of outputs and outcomes.  At times the heritage sector is highly formulaic and methodology driven.  Thankfully there are increasing opportunities, and I would argue need, to develop new processes and forms of collaborative expression to better explore our complex relationship to the past and the vital role, in terms of place and identity, this has for our futures.

Mac-Talla Nan Creag is a great example of how the ongoing conversation with the heritage of our landscapes can be extended through creative practices.  It is also an important reminder that through exploring the past we can produce more than academic knowledge through this conservation: only by the sharing and celebration of our archaeological and historic environment assets through different mediums can we grow their relevance.

Overall Mac-Talla Nan Creag as a collaborative musical response, to archaeological digitisation, with support by Forestry Commission Scotland to take such an approach, is to be commended.  It would, however, be interesting to discuss with the musicians to what degree, and how, the experience of archaeology and its laser scan affected (if at all) their compositions?

In the meantime please go to Firecracker Recordings and treat yourself to Mac-Talla Nan Creag

Remembering the Forty Five

Trophée d'Auguste 4Trophée d’Auguste à La Turbie overlooks the French Riviera.

Between 25 and 14 BC the Alps were conquered by Emperor Augustus.  Situated at the frontier of Gaul, the trophy dedicated to the subjugation of Forty Five tribes was created from 7 – 6 BC.  Still a prominent monument in the landscape 2000 years later, it was then a symbol of Imperial dominance.  Yet when it was constructed it required legitimacy from a mythical past, perhaps to evoke demi-god like status upon the Emperor, deliberately situated in part of a landscape associated with the journeys of Hercules (Heracles Monoikos), referred by some as the ‘Heraclean Way’.

Trophée d'Auguste 1 The site was remodeled in the Medieval period as a fortress, which was inhabited to 1705, at which point it was largely dismantled to provide stone for the construction of the adjacent village.

Trophée d'Auguste 2In 1913 consolidation and reconstruction with remains from the site (anastylosis) commenced.

Trophée d'Auguste 3This process continued in 1934 by Jules Formigé but with more significant reconstruction with new materials. To the extent on the west side a marble slab (17.45 m x 2.66 m) was re-created, in part from original fragments found at the site, and based on an account of the original transcription in Pliny the Elders Naturalis Historia. 

It reads:

To the Emperor Caesar, Son of Divus Augustus, Pontifex Maximus, Imperator fourteen Times, and invested with the Authority of the Tribune seventeen Times : the Senate and People of Rome : For that under his Conduct and Auspices, all the Alpine Nations which reached from the Upper Sea to the Nether, were reduced under the Empire of the People of Rome. The Alpine Nations subdued:  Triumpilini, Camuni, Vennonetes, Isarci, Breuni, Naunes, and Focunates. Of the Vindelici four Nations: the Consuanetes, Virucinates, Licates, and Catenates. The Abisontes, Rugusce, Suanetes, Calucones, Brixentes, Lepontii, Viberi, Nantuates, Seduni, Veragri, Salad, Acitavones, Medulli, Uceni, Caturiges, Brigiani, Sogiontiiy Ebroduntii, Nemaloni, Edenates, Esubiani, Veamini, Gallitce, Triulatti, Ectini, Vergunni, Eguituri, Nementuri, Oratelli, Nerusivelauni, Suetri.

Names of peoples long forgotten by most…

Monaco GoatThe site however overlooks Monaco,

its name derived in antiquity from Heracles Monoikos

More importantly, perhaps, the Victory Monument towers above the site of Oppidum du Mont des Mules.  The site of the Ligurian fortification created perhaps about 250 BC which would have been subjugated during the campaign of Emperor Augustus.Oppida BuildStill the stone ramparts, of this tribal center, stand.  An alternative claim

on the landscape

from the Roman dominance


The lines of the ramparts can still be


Oppidum du Mont De Mules 1Dressed blocks showing the scale of what was once before.

RampartQuarried from the hill top, reconfigured, bounded in stone.

Oppidum du Mont De Mules 2Its ramparts, so close, as its wider landscape, to still be part of Monaco below.

Oppidum du Mont De Mules 3But go off the path, and you can find gestures which evoke different views of the world.

Offerings 1 Offerings 2   Not simply one stone, embellished as a tribal head.

Rather a component of a bigger piece, a cairn with other stones embellished.

The individual pieces expressed in different terms but together creating a visible statement of unity.

Offerings 3One had a stenciled profile of a building, and I wonder what the hidden faces of other




But then from the view point at Oppidum du Mont des Mules,

another world

was revealed


Way Below…Casino de Monte-Carlo,

shaken and stirred,

I reflected on the

forty five tribes.


The visit to these sites was part of a study tour to the Maritime-Alps which followed the salt routes from the coast to the inland mountainous landscapes.

Further information:

Trophée d’Auguste à La Turbie

Pliny’s Natural History For the 45 tribe passage quoted above see page 192-193

Oppidum du Mont des Mules

Via Julia Augusta

Monaco Museum of Prehistory

Old SignageOlder Interpretive Plan of Oppidum du Mont Des Mules.

Sign of the TimesRecent Interpretive Signage of Le Trophée d’Auguste

How times change !