Skip to content

Crimdon Earthwork

Crimdon Earthwork

Crimdon Dene Earthwork

Early in 2004 I was invited to participate in a team of engineers, landscape designers, contractors and administrators, in the regeneration of Crimdon Dene on the coast of County Durham.

Crimdon Dene had at one time been a very popular holiday destination for families from the surrounding towns and villages of Durham and Tyneside. One of the most well known events was the Miss Crimdon beauty queen contest to which thousands would flock every year into the early 70’s. However times change, people sought out holidays abroad, and the heyday of Crimdon as a holiday destination came to an end. The area became neglected and derelict, though still enjoying the advantages of a spectacular coastline, and surrounding countryside of SSSI status.

Funding was awarded by the Millennium Commission to ‘Turning The Tide’, a partnership organisation leading a programme of regeneration for the Durham Coast. Part of this was focussed on Crimdon Dene. I was brought in to the team in particular to look at the transformation of a 280 x 150 metre site sitting above the sand dunes, which was at the time a huge derelict carpark.

The original idea was to crush the tarmac surface, and then bury it beneath the original ground underneath.

However much of this proved to be sand, necessitating the import of a considerable quantity of clay to establish a stable surface. I proposed the installation of a system of earthworks to the site.

These earthworks are intended to integrate the new landscape into the surrounding dunes and hills, and allow for the re-establishment of the surrounding flora. They are also a work of sculpture which provide an invitation into the space, and encourage continual movement and discovery by walking through the sweeping forms.

The strongest inclination of any visitor is to climb to the top of the highest mound at the centre of the work, there to find the stone and timber ‘Tabletop’.

In the middle of this piece is a large round stone, and once stood upon this, the visitor is at the very epicentre of the surrounding 360o landscape. The earthworks roll away from this point to the dunes in the east and the valley in the west.

At the main entrance to the site, just where a footpath leads up through the sand dunes, across the road and into the earthworks, lies a long stone and timber seat, built into the mound that slopes away behind.

This, along with two other similar pieces within the work, act as stopping points or pauses. Architectural punctuation in the newly formed landscape.

To the south east of the earthwork, and overlooking the sand dunes, stands a waymarker resembling a tern at the point of a dive. This marks a main point of access down to the beach, and also celebrates the presence of a tern colony amongst the sand dunes