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Assemble member designs Shropshire burial mound entrance

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Giles Smith, a founding member of Turner Prize-winning practice Assemble, has drawn up plans for a gateway to a new burial mound in Shropshire

The University of Cambridge and Royal College of Art graduate has designed an entrance for the 1.2ha barrow, which is due to complete later this month.

The Soulton Barrow project, located a short distance from Shropshire’s Grade II-listed Soulton Hall, will create a historically inspired columbarium featuring niches where cremated remains are stored in urns.

Influenced by surviving prehistoric long barrows around the UK, the 30m-long, 12m-wide and 6.5m-high structure aims to deliver a unique alternative to existing funeral facilities in the West Midlands.

The project is backed by Sacred Stones, which created a similar structure in All Cannings, Wiltshire, four years ago – thought to be the first barrow constructed in Britain in thousands of years. The Shropshire barrow will sit beneath 200 tonnes of earth and will feature four domed chambers and several passages.

The Soulton Barrow doorway lines up with the rising sun on the summer solstice. The design, inspired by Neolithic pottery patterns, features several chevrons which join together to create a series of diamond shapes.

Timothy Ashton of Soulton Hall said: ‘The long barrow is a community monument for people to celebrate life. It faces the rising sun on the summer solstice and there is a light aperture which lines up with the sunset on the winter solstice.

‘The gate design has been informed by surviving ceramics and textiles, which are rare from the Neolithic period, and rock carvings, in particular those of north Wales and beaker pottery in Shropshire. With a project this challenging, it’s important to have an artist like Giles Smith who can interrogate the design process.’

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