The Old Stones of Cumbria

A new exhibition, The Old Stones, will go on display at the Heaton Cooper Gallery in Grasmere next week. The exhibition will run from March 9 until May 29. A new, beautifully illustrated book by Windermere based writer, Adam Morgan Ibbotson, about Cumbrian standing stones will accompany the exhibition. He will be available to sign copies of Cumbria’s Prehistoric Monuments at the exhibition opening on March 9 from 1pm.

Nobody knows why people erected magnificent stone circles and enormous, solitary standing stones among the hills and plains of prehistoric Britain. We have split the atom, sequenced our DNA and travelled into space but we have yet to unravel the mystery of the stones. It is one of the great, unanswered mysteries of human history and one that we may never learn.

It has been speculated that stone circles such as the wondrous 5000 year old structure at Castlerigg, just outside Keswick, was designed as an observatory to track the movements of the sun, moon and stars. Others have linked stones such as the colossal menhir at Mayburgh Henge, near Penrith, to ritualistic ceremonies or burial sites but the truth is - we just don’t know.

Either way, these enigmatic monuments still retain the power to attract and mesmerise us. Perhaps we’re fascinated by their historical significance or maybe we’re drawn to their staggering beauty and grandeur. Others are compelled to visit the stones for mystical reasons while for some it’s just another tourist attraction. Or perhaps we’re drawn to them for reasons we don’t fully understand which might just hint at another, subtler reason for their existence.

The North of England is rich in Neolithic sites and two northern artists have attempted to capture both the majesty and mystery of ‘The Old Stones’. Gavin Parry has sought out and chronicled these prehistoric sites for many years and has a deep knowledge of Neolithic history. His stunning photographs capture both the grandeur and elemental beauty of the stones. Tony Galuidi is a relative newcomer but an enthusiastic devotee of standing stones. His atmospheric paintings attempt to portray the ethereal qualities of these great megaliths.

The Heaton Cooper Gallery is open between 9am and 5pm seven days each week.

All of the paintings and photographs are available for sale and the artist proceeds will be donated to UNICEF.