The Cheviot Goat

High up on the hills in upper Redesdale, Northumberland, a curious new sculpture of a goat has appeared.  The goat is featured with its front legs down and head up, with its hind legs in the air, as though it has been caught in the middle of jumping down a hill or rock.  It is quite stylised and two-dimensional which has the effect of making it slightly difficult to work out exactly what it is. 

The sculpture has been positioned at the end of a boardwalk and footpath around a quarter of a mile to the west of the northbound border viewpoint at Carter Bar, just before the footpath joins the old cart track up to whitelee moor.  This positioning means that it is just about visible from the road heading up out of Redesdale if you know where to look, it is also positioned in a spot that creates an amazing viewpoint for anyone who walks along to it, giving unbroken views down into Redesdale and past catcleugh reservoir. 

Cheviot Goat – Stephen Lunn / Photo – Photo_by_Amey

The form of the goat leaping down into a pond at first appears as though it could be a heron, or another large bird – the actual sculpture itself requires viewing almost flat on as it’s quite two-dimensional.  The steel used has a nice metallic look to it and is far more pleasing to the eye than the rusted Corten steel that has been used in other sculptures within the region in the last twenty years.  The manner in which the goat has been caught descending into a pool of water in the sculpture has been wonderfully handled with the addition of small splash eddies made from steel and stones kicked up from the stream bed held slightly higher than the ground.  The sense of motion it conveys, as well as the resilient material it has been created from allude to the character, temperament, and playfulness of the wild cheviot goats.

On the afternoon which I visited, there wasn’t a soul about – there are a few reasons for this, firstly, it was a weekday and the busy period for people looking around here is on a weekend, secondly, its midwinter and quite high up on the pass over the hills, thirdly, the clouds were only a couple of tens of metres above the spot where it has been positioned and there was a fierce, bitter wind blowing across the moor.  Also, this sculpture has only been in place for a couple of weeks, so most people haven’t even heard of its installation yet.  As a result, my visit was brief, just long enough to take a few photographs and soak in the view before retreating to the warmth of my car. 

The blacksmith who created this sculpture, Stephen Lunn has quite an oeuvre of sculptural works which were also created in his forge.  The goat sculpture at carter bar captures not just the spirit of the Northumbrian Mountain goat, but also that of his own body of work.  Lunn has created a large range of different art projects in the past for clients including Alnwick Castle.

There is also the subject of the landscape, who owns it, who identifies with this landscape and the whole concept of putting up a sculpture of what is, for all intents and purposes the logo of an organisation that is helping to reinvigorate the area and how this is managed into local culture.  Most of the human-built landscape is awash with corporate logos, from various shop and fast-food signs right through to iconic bridges like the Tyne bridge and statues like the Angel of the North, however, these have their place and are usually within human settlements and built-up areas.  The idea of sticking the corporate branding into the countryside invokes ideas of ownership, and of that branded landscape belonging specifically to someone or something.  Sometimes, these sculptures become symbols of a wider identity, like the angel of the north is something which a large number of people around Tyne and Wear identify with as a part of their home, or regional identity, perhaps those who placed the goat were hoping for such a thing to happen here?  If so, then they have placed it in the wrong spot as an iconic sculpture requires visibility.

After my visit to the sculpture which took place a mere two weeks after its installation, I posted a photograph online to gauge public opinion on the sculpture and its placement.  A good half of the people who commented didn’t realise it was a goat, whether that’s because of my description or because of the stylised nature I don’t know.  There is another sculpture planned in Northumberland that people are opposing, I think that some of the negativity towards this was because of the long-running battle over the other sculpture – Elizabeth Landmark.  All in all, the public opinion was very mixed, but I did manage to draw attention to the sculpture and its location, so hopefully, plenty of people will visit it and experience the wildness of Whitelee moor national nature reserve when they do so.

– – – – –

If you have enjoyed reading this then please consider buying me a coffee:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s