04/09/2012 – Dans Maen

Dans Maen

The geomancers of old were Earth magicians who understood the mysterious currents running under the soil and were able to manipulate this energy to harmonise the land, bringing fertility and well being to the people.
Following in this tradition, award-winning new media artist David Bickley is transporting the form and atmosphere of a stone circle from the remote moors of West Cornwall and digitally rebuilding it with light and sound in Drogheda.

This piece, specially commissioned for the town’s art centre, continues David’s series of immersive installations under the heading An Index of Ritual Space, a series David has been working on since 1990.
Steve Hartgroves, Principal Archaeologist with Cornwall Council has called David in relation to this project, ” a virtual Merlin”.

Dans Maen is Cornish for “Stone Dance” and is the name given to a number of stone circles around the remote West Penwith area that also comprises Lands End in Cornwall. The name supposedly refers to the legend that maidens were turned to stone for dancing on a Sunday, an obvious Christianisation of a prehistoric site and its associated traditions.
In the early part of the last century, archaeologist TC Lethbridge visited one such site – the Merry Maidens. This is a near perfect circle of nineteen quartzite granite stones. He had with him a pendulum which he had learned to use for dowsing; he claims to have gotten the idea from a French nautical character who used it to find mines at sea. This idea to dowse for the energy lines, which the stones either map out or are based on, was probably influenced by the work of Guy Underwood who did much work mapping the underlying currents of many ancient sites and even cathedrals, which are all said to be built on even older significant sites or power spots. When Lethbridge started to dowse the circle he felt a very strong spiralling pull, a kind of magnetic field, he also said that the stones seemed to rock.

When I first saw this ancient circle, I was sitting in a vehicle with composer Steve Bayfield in a small lay-by looking up at their silhouettes on the moonlit hill. We both saw them appear to rock, then spin. Although I am definite that they didn’t physically move I am sure that part of my being perceived their potential to do so, and the prevailing energies that might drive them.

This piece is about that time, though I have moved my focus to a more remote circle a few miles from the Merry Maidens called the Nine Maidens. This small, fragmented circle sits on top of wild moorland overlooking St Michael’s Mount in an area known as Ding Dong…

David would like to acknowledge the generous support of Air South West and the Historic Environment Dept. Cornwall Council in the realisation of this project

Artists Fees required: In keeping with VAI policy, an artist’s fee is required

David Ian Bickley
00353 087 6983033

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