Unusual Landmarks of England
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Unusual Landmarks of England

Unusual English landmarks. Anthony Gormley. Angel of the North. Another Place. Chalk carvings. geoglyphs. Concrete cows. Superlambanana. The metal tree Slough. Penshaw Monument. SS Vina shipwreck, Brancaster, Norfolk. Spinaker Tower, Portsmouth.

The British Isles are full of weird and wonderful landmarks, both natural and man made.

From Celtic cave dwellings to fanciful follies, from iron age artifacts to modern sculptures, The British Isles has the lot.

In this article I will show you some strange man made landmarks, both old and new, that are common place in the landscape, but may well appear unusual to those of you less familiar with them.

Non of these landmarks are award winners or internationally recognised, but all are most certainly unique, unusual or even bizarre. 

   

  ANGEL OF THE NORTH, GATESHEAD, TYNE AND WEAR. 

                         antonygormley

This 20 metre high, steel angel with a wingspan of over 50 metres, stands proud upon the fells just outside Gateshead in Tyne and Wear.

The sculpture is the creation of sculptor Antony Gormley.

The sculpture was erected overlooking the A1 and A167 roads in 1998, at a cost of £1million, funded by the National Lottery.

The angel's wings are positioned at a slight angle, giving the impression that the angel is embracing the landscape around it. 

   

   ANOTHER PLACE, CROSBY SANDS, MERSEYSIDE. 

                            antonygormley 

Not only Another Place ( Statues official title), but also another Antony Gormley creation.

This time 100 cast iron men look out to sea along a two mile stretch of the Lancashire coastline.

Each figure, which is supposed to be a replica of Gormley's own body, stands just over six foot tall and weighs around 650 kgs.

When the statues were first constructed back in 1997, they were originally supposed to go on show at various beaches around the world.

After having already been on show in Germany, Norway and Belgium the metal men , as they are known locally, came to Crosby Sands on Merseyside where they were intended to be only on show for a year, before being sent on to New York.

However, local residents wanted to keep them for their own, and after much petition signing and protest, the metal men were given clearence to stay in Merseyside permanently in 2007. 

  

       CHALK CARVINGS, SOUTHERN ENGLAND.

This artisitic phenomena is a thing supposedly particular to England.

These chalk carvings along with stone drawings and circles are known as geoglyphs and they dot the English landscape on top of various hills and mounds around the south of the country.

Not too much is known about them, but much myth and legend has been attributed to them.

Historians believe they could be Celtic, or Iron Age carvings.

No one seems to know their purpose, but they could be anything from land boundary markers, fertility symbols or as it has been suggested by some, map references made by aliens from outer space.

These huge carvings can be seen from miles around, and although they are out in the open and accessible for public display, they are regularly tended and cleaned in order to keep the chalk in pristine condition. 

There are several sites of chalk carvings, stone rings and other stone drawings around England, but other than the three ancient sites pictured, the remainder are of dubious age, and considered copies from more recent times. 

  

 CONCRETE COWS, MILTON KEYNES, BUCKINGHAMSHIRE.

The concrete cows of Milton Keynes have been an endearing feature of the Buckinghamshire landscape since 1978.

The three cows and their three calves were designed and created by Canadian Sculptor Liz Leyh.

The lifesize cows are located in a local park and are made from concrete with a fibreglass skin.

The artwork is known as Conceptual Art, and they were made in order to poke fun at people during the 1970's who objected to the building of the 'New' town at Milton Keynes, all of whom were insisting that the new town would be a concrete jungle and eyesore. 

  

                  LAMBANANA, LIVERPOOL.

Liverpool's enormous, bright yellow, superlambanana sculpture was considered something of an eyesore when first erected in the city of Liverpool in 1998 .

However, after the poor beast suffered from a bout of vandalism one dark night, local people suddenly decided that they loved their bright yellow, seventeen foot tall, cross between a lamb and a banana after all, and the sculpture took on a new lease of life, gaining a cult following in and around the city and surrounding area.

The landmark is now a permanent fixture in Liverpool City Centre, and much loved by locals and visitors alike.

The lamb, symbolises wool and the banana symbolisies fruit, the two main cargoes that Liverpool Docks handled during it's hey day as the largest docks in the world, back in the eighteenth century. 

.

  

            METAL TREE, SLOUGH, BERKSHIRE. 

There has been quite an epidemic of metal trees sprouting up in and around England of recent years.

All of them are beautifully crafted sculptures in various metalic colours.

This particular 8 foot high steel sculpture was commissioned by Hammerston PLC to commemorate the redevelopment of the Queensmere Shopping Centre in the Berkshire town of Slough.

Local sculptor Giusseppe Lund was the artist, who in 1999 created the lifesize tree complete with multi coloured metal birds in it's branches, to symbolise the many cultural and ethnic differences of the local people.

   

 PENSHAW MONUMENT, WASHINGTON, TYNE AND WEAR.

This Doric Order folly, built to resemble the Temple of Hephaestus in Athens is situated atop Penshaw Hill, near Washington,Tyne and Wear.

Designed by father and son architects, John and Benjamin Green and commissioned by Charles Vane, who dedicated this most un - British of  monuments to his friend John George Lambton, Earl of Durham and first governor of Canada.

This Grecian temple lookalike, which stands 20 metres high, and is 30 metres long by 16 metres wide, can be seen for miles around within the rugged countryside of Sunderland and has stood pride of place there, since 1844. 

 

 S.S VINA SHIPWRECK, BRANCASTER, NORFOLK. 

 The naval coaster S.S Vina, was built in 1894 and was a coast hugging general cargo ship working from the Scottish port of Grangemouth.

When she came to the end of her working life in 1940, she was aquisitioned by the Royal Navy to have her hold filled with explosives and blown up at the mouth of the Port of Yarmouth in Norfolk, in order to ward off infilltation of the port by Nazi war ships.

However,as the threat of German U - Boat infilltration passed from red alert to non existant, S.S Vina, was taken up the coast to Brancaster, where she was used as target practice by the military, where she soon became wedged between rocks and sandbanks, never to move again.

The ship has never been broken up owing to the high expense of such an operation, and she is too close to shore for wreckers to be able to blow her up, so there she remains to this day, a permanent landmark of this Norfolk beach. 

  

 THE SPINNAKER TOWER, PORTSMOUTH, HAMPSHIRE. 

                             spinnakertower 

You could be mistaken for thinking you were in Dubai when you first come across this 170 metre high tower, that resembles a ship's mast and billowing sail - similar to the seven star hotel the Burj Al Arab on Dubai's waterfront -  in Portsmouth Harbour in Hampshire.  

Built in 2005 to commemorate the redevelopment of this historic harbour in Britain's most prolific, naval coastal town,it was designed in order to reflect the town's long maritime history.

The tower has three observation decks for public use, with views across the Solent and on to the Isle of Wight. The lower observation deck also houses the largest glass floor in Europe.

MORE ARTICLES ABOUT UNUSUAL BRITISHNESS: 

follies-of-england 

superlambanana 

ten-weird-or-unusual-british-sports-games 

                                   Images courtesy of wikimedia commons and C.J. Slade.

                                      S.S.Vina photograph courtesy of David Livingstone.

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Comments (22)

useful and informative

Ranked #1 in Europe

Thankyou swati, glad you enjoyed it.

Great job and wonderful pictures. I have passed the angel of the north quite a lot since it was built as it is quite near where I live. It is wierd but beautiful! Thanks for bringing the good stuff about the UK to light Dee!

Ranked #1 in Europe

Cheers ma dear, yes, I've seen the angel, it's quite impressive actually.

Great work, DeeBee. I know the Angel very well.

Ranked #1 in Europe

I've only seen it the once, and that was quite by accident. I was on a diverted flight from Manchester to Newcastle, then bus back to Manchester, so I saw it from the bus window, not expecting it at all, I was impressed, she is very tall.

I know, she is very impressive, although I have yet to see her up close (if that is possible)! Good job!

Very impressive article. I would love to see these places.

Ranked #1 in Europe

Thankyou Anuradha, I hope that you get to see these places someday.

Awesome, DeeBee! Really cool stuff. It's good to hear that the people who live near these oddities appreciate them, even if it took a while.

Ranked #1 in Europe

Thanks Stacey. Glad you liked our weird and wonderful structures.

wonderful, just as I am beginning to expect from you! I must say I have never come across the naked man on the beach! (well not that one anyway!) have spotted many of the other before. There is also the crooked spire in Chesterfield. You can see it from the M1.

Ranked #1 in Europe

Wot ! We're falling over those metal men up here, do you want me to send you a few? You know Lisa, after I had finished this, I suddenly realised of lots more landmarks I could have included, the list just goes on and on.

Very good read. Thanks. Have seen some of them.

Enjoyable read as always Deebee

hahahah... They are cool! yes send me some! I can put them in my back garden or front! that would get some chins wagging. How are they anchored to the ground, I know they are very heavy but how far does the sea come in? Can you let dogs run on that beach? I may come for a visit this summer holidays and have a closer inspection!

Ranked #26 in Europe

peculiar but impressive...i am pretty sure i'll enjoy my visit there...just in case

Ranked #1 in Europe

@ Lisa, course they let dogs on the beach they let Scousers on it !! ( only joking) I don't know how they are anchored but they are very secure, you can not push them over. The tide comes in right up to the necks of some of the men, but others just up to their legs, depends how far back on the beach they are. There are 100 hundred of them so plenty to go round, so do come up and see them, they are very popular round here.

Great article. Just one small point: the Angel of the North isn't female. Anthony Gormley used his own body as the model and scaled it up to create the full size angel. Some of the proportions are very self-flattering!

Ranked #1 in Europe

@ Michael, just like the metal men,would you say he was a bit of a poseur?

My personal favorite would be the Chalk Carvings in Southern England. Steeped in mystery and intrigue, what fascinating landmarks of history. Unique article and very enjoyable read.

Ranked #1 in Europe

Thankyou Richard. Yes mysterious indeed. I have seen the one in the middle picture for real and it is huge, and you just have to ask yourself, why did they do it.

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