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Last Stones Arrive at Stone Circle

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medium_stone.circle.a.jpg--December 3, 2009

The finishing touches to the new Stanstead Stone Circle were made yesterday. The circle, which sits in a field just outside of downtown Stanstead, is based on the ancient stone circles and other megalithic monuments that are scattered across the length and breadth of the British Isles and Western Europe.

The circle is the creation of Kim Prangley, Gabriel Safdie and Eva Juul, with much needed help from local granite contractor Christian Ouellet and trucking company Rediker Transport.

Yesterday, two large stones, one weighing close to 60 tons, were lowered into place with the help of a giant crane. It is delicate work arranging such large stones, but the crew working under the direction of Ouellet managed to place the stones exactly where (and in the orientation) Prangley wanted them. Ouellet and his team also had to rearrange a grouping of three stones -- two uprights and a lintel -- that had been put in place back in September.

All of the stones in the Stone Circle are of local Stanstead granite. Gabriel Safdie, who has not only been intimately involved in the artistic conception of this unusual site but who has also largely financed it, says that spotlighting local granite is key to the project. “Granite is such an important element in the local landscape; we wanted to honour that.” Safdie was especially attracted to the idea of a stone circle because its spiritual nature would “connect the land with the cosmos.”

medium_stone.circle.b.jpgThe Stanstead Stone Circle, which was officially inaugurated on the fall equinox on September 20, measures about 80 feet across and 250 feet around. Prangley says that she designed it “to reflect the unique quality of our international border community that is connected to the 45 th parallel.” She says that “the 45 th parallel is located halfway between the Equator and the north pole. A half-way point. A point of balance.” During the equinoxes which occur twice annually, she explains, “the sun reaches a still-point in its journey: halfway between the summer and winter solstices (the longest and shortest days of the year) the night and day are of equal length. Another point of balance between two markings, thus the connection to the 45 th parallel.”

Prangley says that the largest stone in the circle marks the position in the night sky of the north star. This star, she explains, is “significant because it is the only star in the sky that does not change its position and has been used for millennia as a way-shower for travelers. Some stone circles are designed to mark the sunrise or sunset with a landmark on the horizon on a particular day. Because we do not have a clear view of the actual horizon this approach has not been taken with our circle. However, because we are honouring the equinoxes (when the sun should rise and set exactly due east and west), I have chosen to align two stones on an exact east/west alignment.”

As the crane lowered the last of the mammoth stones into place, Prangley said that she hoped that this was just the beginning. “I believe this stone circle was meant to be here. It’s just the beginning.”

Stanstead Stone Circle is located on Notre-Dame Boulevard in Stanstead. It is open to the public and admission to the site is free of charge. For more information, call (819) 876-7462.