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calder stones bove Orbis Conservation work to remove Stone F, the smallest of the Calder stones. U nlike its neighbours, this stone was set in concrete; the conservators have decided not to remove this, to avoid damaging the stone.

Stepping inside an unassuming unit on a Greenwich business park, I found myself surrounded by giants. These towering, brightly coloured forms were, in fact, 19th-century ships’ figureheads, loaned to Orbis Conservation by the National Museum of the Royal Navy for expert restoration. It was another, equally monumental project that I had come to find out about, though.

The ring of six monoliths known as the Calder stones are Liverpool’s earliest monument, but the

4,800-year-old uprights (which have spent the past half century in a glasshouse in Calderstones Park) are not in their original form, and have not stood in their original location for centuries. Made from local red sandstone and covered in prehistoric rock art, until recently the Calder stones were arranged in a rough circle – but it is thought that they probably originally formed part of a late Neolithic or early Bronze Age (c.2800-2000 BC) passage tomb similar to those at Newgrange, Co. Meath, and Bryn Celli Ddu, Anglesey.

This kind of burial mound, seen across northern Europe, had a long entrance passageway leading to a central chamber, sometimes with side chambers leading off it.

Now the stones have been lifted from their sockets and transported 200 miles south to Orbis Conservation’s Greenwich workshop. There, they are being cleaned and consolidated ahead of reinstallation in a purpose-built new home at the rear of Calderstones Mansion House (see p.41). It is part of a project commissioned by national charity The Reader, and supported by the HLF and Liverpool City Council, that will create The International Centre for Shared Reading, a new community hub that also includes a theatre, café, and gallery space. This is only the most recent move that the stones have undergone, however. Tracing the stones Readers who lived in Liverpool before 1954 will remember the Calder stones

below LEFT Between 1845 and 1954, t he stones were housed outside the entrance to the park, as shown on this postcard.

below A full survey and assessment of t he stones was undertaken before they were removed from the ground.

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Issue 347

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