Vernal Equinox - How to Build a Stone Circle
In celebration of Vernal Equinox, and the re-emergence of Spring, MKC would like to offer a how-to manual of sorts - “How to Build a Stone Circle”.
Building upon the ancients, this modern interpretation of stone circles - such as Stonehenge and the Ring of Brodgar - is a means through which to observe cosmological phenomena. Days such as Vernal Equinox provide unique opportunities to reflect on humanity’s place, not only on earth, but throughout the cosmos. In some of these ancient buildings reside certain existential characteristics - aspects of the object - that heighten the awareness between human and cosmos. They, along with others, were the origins of archetypes. Timelessly contemporaneous, they are places that offer a combined vantage point into the universal beginnings of cosmological architecture. The artifact depicted here strategically reveals such Earth/Sun alignments. Like all types of great architecture, it offers a chance to consider our existence.
In describing ancient archetypes, Louis Kahn said, “You still have round rooms, you still have great halls, you still have light from above or below. You can’t get away from the fact that a space enclosed is of a nature quite like other spaces of old. The Pantheon is a beautiful example of a terrific space which you can’t surpass no matter what age. It really spells enclosure; it spells a world of its own; and that’s what a building is: a building is a world of its own.”
How is it, at a time so distant, these places have the power to sculpt existence, both in the physical and metaphysical realm of earth, man, and cosmos? Within the stones we find not the root of cosmological architecture, but the seed:
Time (Earth) - Human’s concept of time has varied through the ages based on the cosmology of the era. In most instances, however, we measure time based on our human experience of events on earth: our role is constant. Thus, if humans do not perceive, but rather participate in, a unified world of experience, humans are also in a perpetual state of becoming. Like the earth, we are becoming as one.
Scale (Mortal) - Man measures himself through the gods. Disproportionate use of scale in architecture lend credence to the realization that man is merely a finite mortal piece of the cosmos. Similar to Gaston Bachelard’s writings on the miniature, when viewing extremely large objects, we feel humility. One example of such a utilization of scale is the ancient burial tombs at the Maeshowe Cairn in Scotland.
Light (Sky) - Perhaps the most direct and prominent expression of cosmology in architecture is the poetic and prescriptive use of light. The multiple structures at the Hill of Tara exemplify the alignment with celestial bodies to emphasize man’s connection with the cosmos.
Ordered Geometry (Divine) - As humankind’s perceived relationship with the cosmos has changed over time, so has architecture’s expression through geometry. For example in the stone circles of Callanish Stone Circles, we find a direct correlation with the horizon and that which lies beyond, both in the physical layout of the structure, but also its relationship with the divine bodies above.
Our folly depicted here, an architectural construct of cosmology, is unique insofar as it is a retrospective look at ancient architecture - taking what we know in contemporary thought and applying it anachronistically to uncover new truths about the past, and thus, the present. By comparing contemporary thought and ancient object, newfound similarities may emerge between two seemingly disparate topics. Regardless of time or era, these similarities have been present in the human psyche since the dawn of man. These are cosmological archetypes.
- Matthew Teismann