beLong at Houghton Hall Logo

White Deer Circle
Richard Long 2016

Find out more about this sculpture using the resources here.

Questions

Whilst these questions have been designed to be suitable entry points for Key Stages 1-4, we would encourage you to use the questions as broadly and fully as is appropriate to your group.

Key Stage 1
What animals do the tree stumps remind you of?
Whose footprints were found at the Norfolk sea Henge?
Is there light underground?

Key Stage 2
Stand in the centre of the circle and see how it feels! What other kinds of circles can you think of?
How would this space change as it gets darker?
Do the tree roots grow when the moon light is out?

Key Stage 3
These tree stumps have been placed in a circle, or ‘henge’. Can you name another famous henge in Norfolk?
What nutrients are needed to make these trees grow?
What do the deer do with this circle?

Key Stage 4
Why do you think the artist chose to place White Deer Circle here? How does it relate to its surroundings, whether manmade or natural?
How has magic religion and science battled for prominence throughout time?

HE/FE
One of artist Richard Long’s concerns is with the relationship between the earthly and the spiritual. How can White Deer Circle be interpreted in this way?

Back in the classroom:
See what other henges you can find out about – why were they created and what were they made from?

Materials

Made from a ‘henge’ of tree stumps from the Houghton Estate

Houghton has hundreds of wonderful old trees, many planted in long avenues leading towards the house. Oaks form the Great South Avenue and to the north is a double planted avenue of beech established in 1730. As beech is not very long lived only a handful of the original trees still survive, approaching the end of their life. The sweet chestnuts in the avenue to the East Lodge are older as this was part of an earlier geometric planting scheme. The oldest trees are the oaks in the North Park, far from the house. When trees reach the end of their life the stumps are grubbed up so new trees can replace them. This circle echoes the pre-historic wood henge discovered recently at Holme-next-the-Sea here in Norfolk, with a great inverted stump at its centre.

Find out more about materials in the tab below.

The resources are below:

Made from: A ‘henge’ of tree stumps from the Houghton Estate

Houghton has hundreds of wonderful old trees, many planted in long avenues leading towards the house. Oaks form the Great South Avenue and to the north is a double planted avenue of beech established in 1730. As beech is not very long lived only a handful of the original trees still survive, approaching the end of their life. The sweet chestnuts in the avenue to the East Lodge are older as this was part of an earlier geometric planting scheme. The oldest trees are the oaks in the North Park, far from the house. When trees reach the end of their life the stumps are grubbed up so new trees can replace them. This circle echoes the pre-historic wood henge discovered recently at Holme-next-the-Sea here in Norfolk, with a great inverted stump at its centre.

Great South Avenue – oaks. Beech double planted avenue running north from the hall were established by Charles Bridgeman c 1730 and only a handful of these original trees still survive and are approaching the end of their life. Horse Chestnuts on the Ice House mound were originally a closely planted ring.

Sweet Chestnut Avenue now forms the drive to the East Lodge, originally part of the complex pattern of geometric planting swept away in the 1730s. There is evidence on the oaks of their past use – ancient ones may have been shredded to provide low level leafy growth for browsing animals not looking like standard trees. The most ancient great oak has a 9 metre girth and can be found in the north of the park associated with the site of the deserted settlement. All of the oldest oaks are in the North Park – unlike the more formal planting, and might have been retained because of their ancient interest and to be destinations for walks or outings.

WHITE DEER CIRCLE 

All our green dreams, our children
singing in the wind,
our high hopes
come down to this:
look at our twisted claws,
our earth-grapplers

upended as this planet is;
we’re sacrifices to ourselves.

We’ve been waiting for you
for hundreds of years.

Stay a while now
within this precinct, this hollow.
Tell us your fears your sorrows.
We will absorb them
though we can’t explain it,
we can set you free.

 

by Kevin Crossley-Holland

 

NOTE: What are your thoughts and feelings when you look from the outside in and look from the inside out? Is there a difference?

Listen to an audio recording of White Deer Circle.