Crawick Multiverse, Sanquhar, Dumfries & Galloway DG4 6EG

Seeing Stars in the Landscape

Set amongst the rolling hills and wide skies of the upper Nith valley, is a modern masterpiece by the man who redefined the concept of a garden.

Crawick Multiverse, a place inspired by the cosmos, spreads over 22 hectares of what was once the barren scar left behind when a giant opencast coal mine finally closed. It features dramatic earthforms, long avenues lined with standing stones, still lagoons and a ridge created from the excess slag leftover from the mining process.

Two thousands boulders, excavated during the construction process, form part of the design and the entire area is covered in a mixture of mown areas and meadows; waving grasses and wildflowers, and hundreds of willow and silver birch trees that flourish in what is an exposed site.

Crawick Multiverse was developed over the space of five years by Charles Jencks, an architectural historian and visionary, whose Garden of Cosmic Speculation, created in the grounds of his family home near Dumfries, has gained an international reputation for its audacious designs including signature ‘snail-mounds’ that represent the double helix of DNA.

Crawick MultiverseCrawick Multiverse (Image: free)

This work changed ideas of what a garden could be, reimagining it as a place of allegory, where meaning could be carved out of the soil and traditional garden ornaments, such as statues and bridges, combined metaphysics with aesthetics and, occasionally, practicality.

Jencks’ designs can now be found around the world, but in 2011 he was commissioned by the Duke of Buccleuch to transform the industrial site at Sanquhar into something that would benefit both the local community and attract visitors from further afield. Within the last 12 months, what turned out to be one of his final works has been designated a Landscape of the Recent Past by Historic and Environment Scotland.

As in many of his projects, Jencks took inspiration from the Heavens, creating mounds and features at Crawick that represent Andromeda, The Milky Way and other galaxies and he also created an artwork called Galactic Collision, which represents the birth of a billion new stars as galaxies collide.

At the centre of the design is a grass amphitheatre, which hosts musical and artistic events, including a forthcoming outdoor theatre production of Dr Dootlittle, while a new visitor centre, named The Coal Face, created by repurposing three shipping containers, now provides tickets, snacks and shelter from the elements.

Crawick Multiverse, which sits on the route of the Southern Upland Way and is a registered Aire for overnight campervan stays, has been envisaged as a place where visitors of all ages, from children upwards, can allow their minds to expand while exploring its physical features and contemplating our place in the grand scheme of everything.

The mound and wild flowersThe mound and wild flowers (Image: free)

On Thursday, 20 June, Crawick Multiverse will be celebrating the summer solstice with a range of events, starting with the sunrise at 4am. There will be a guided two hour sunrise tour of the landscape, a programme of wellbeing sessions including Tai Chi, yoga and qigong and at midday storytelling, song and dance will mark the longest day of the year.

Crawick is also a joint sponsor, along with the Open University in Scotland, of a Solstice Seminar, which will take place on the same evening at The Crichton in Dumfries. This is part of the European Lunar Symposium.


Crawick Multiverse is open daily, 10am - 4pm (6pm Sat and Sun) Tickets: £7/ £4 (under 16)/ Free (under 5) Family ticket £18 ( 2 adults and up to 4 children) Crawick Multiverse is situated off the B740 close to where it joins the A76, one mile west of Sanquhar.

In association with Discover Scottish Gardens