Chanctonbury Ring, a chalk spiral and ‘the basic motion of matter’

March 28, 2015

According to Asger Jorn, ‘the basic motion of matter has the character of the spiral’.*


I don’t know who’s responsible for this spiral arrangement of chalk at Chanctonbury Ring, on the South Downs of West Sussex. I found the picture on an English Heritage page which now appears to have disappeared, though the picture was never attributed to anyone.

I remember the wooded hill as something of a sinister presence looming over us as we made our way to visit family in Crawley many years ago, and I read about the legend about the Devil appearing if you circled the (now much-depleted) clump of trees on its crest seven times. I wish I could track down the reference to the Theosophist perceiving the dance of Oreads on the top of this hill (or was it Cissbury Ring), manifesting as dancing light.


Cows in the dew pond at Chanctonbury Ring in 1930 (Steyning Museum library collection).

* Peter Shield 1998 Comparative Vandalism: Asger Jorn and the artistic attitude to life. Aldershot: Borgen/Ashgate, p.43.

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