Northumberlandia: The Lady of the North

In the former coal mining town of Cramlington, Northumberland, North East England, is a gigantic piece of land art in the shape of reclining naked lady named ‘Northumberlandia’. She is more than a hundred feet tall at her tallest point, her forehead, and a quarter of a mile long. She lies on her back, with her hairs spread out, upper body in supine position and her lower torso twisted towards her left, as if she is dancing. Created by American landscape architect and designer Charles Jencks, Northumberlandia is said to be largest human landform sculpture in the world.

It is intended to be a major tourist attraction, with the developers hoping that it will attract an additional 200,000 visitors a year to Northumberland. It was officially opened by Anne, Princess Royal on 29 August 2012. A day-long Community Opening Event on 20 October 2012 marked the park becoming fully open to the public.

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Northumberlandia was created from the by-products of an opencast mine in Shotton owned by Banks Group and Blagdon Estates. While digging for coal the employers realized that there was a splendid opportunity to creatively reuse all the rocks and dirt dug out of the ground instead of dumping them into bland hills. So they contacted renowned artist Charles Jencks to see what could be done and Northumberlandia was born.

It took Charles Jencks two years to build and shape her curvaceous figure and sensual limbs out of 1.5m tonnes of rock, clay and soil discarded from the mine. Her core is made of rocks, layered over with clay and topped with soil over which a fine grass now grows. Some of her features are artistically highlighted with stone from the mine that is often used for the restoration of old buildings. The figure provides a series of resting and viewing platforms, the uppermost on the forehead, from which you can get a view of the open cast mine from where she came.

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