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Photo: Jim Bell
Location: Stoney Wood, Wirksworth, Derbyshire, UK, Planet Earth
Latitude: 53.0859 N Longitude: 1.5781 W
Grid Reference: SK 28356 54381
Designated Parking for Stoney Wood: DE4 4FR
Pedestrian and Disabled Access: DE4 4EN
StarDisc is a 21st century stone circle and celestial amphitheater created by Aidan Shingler. It inspires, entertains, engages and is a highly valued community asset, educational resource and performance space. StarDisc has attracted tens of thousands of visitors and staged numerous exciting events. Selected as a finalist in the 2014 National Lottery Awards from over 900 projects, StarDisc attracted UK wide public votes and achieved second place; testament that this innovative outdoor arena captures the public’s hearts and imaginations. Ambitious, unique, inspiring, visionary, magical , is how the first Big Lottery and Arts Council England funded StarDisc located in East Midlands has been described.
"Throughout my life I have been enchanted by the mystery and magic of the stars. My interest in the stars lies with our emotional response to them; their power to ignite our imagination and sense of wonder. The inspiration for the StarDisc stems from a vision to create environments where people from all walks of life can gather, contemplate, and connect with whatever resides beyond the sphere of our world. I describe StarDisc as a temple without walls.'"
StarDisc spans 12 metres (40 ft). Carved into black granite is a star chart that mirrors the northern hemisphere’s night sky. The surface of the stone circle is inscribed with the constellations, their names, and a depiction of the Milky Way. Contrasting with the star chart is a perimeter of silver granite on which 12 seats are positioned. The seats denote the months of the year. During the hours of darkness low level lighting illuminates StarDsic powered by our nearest star the Sun,
StarDisc was unveiled on September 10th 2011 by BBC The Sky at Night presenter Pete Lawrence. From conception to completion it had taken six years. More than one thousand celebrants attended the launch, which was supported by esteemed amateur astronomer Sir Patrick Moore. The event included an under the stars screening of Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
StarDisc commands stunning views over the Ecclesbourne Valley, is free to visit and open to anyone and everyone, 24hrs a day, all year round.
At the heart of StarDisc is a threefold ethos:
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StarDisc takes its name from the Nebra Star Disc, discovered in Germany in 1999, which archaeologists believe dates to 1600 BC, making it the oldest known accurate picture of the night sky in history. The 30cm diameter bronze disc is thought to be an astronomical instrument with religious significance.
StarDisc is a 21st century stone circle. The appropriateness and suitability of the materials used in its construction was intensely deliberated. Integral to the design is the use of black stone which is intended to evoke the darkness of the night sky and to contrast the highlighted stars and other features carved into its surface. Because StarDisc is made to be walked on it was essential that the carved detail would resist being chipped, worn away or eroded. Its creator also required a contrasting stone to surround the star chart but wanted to avoid mixing materials. A combination of black and silver granite was the perfect solution.
Aidan Shingler states:
"The use of limestone, although native to Derbyshire, would have seriously compromised quality, endurance, aesthetics and artistic intent. If it had been taboo in megalithic times to build monuments from non-indigenous materials Stonehenge would not have been constructed from stone sourced 150 miles from Salisbury Plain."