If you’re walking through Teesdale on the Teesdale Way you’re bound to encounter pairs of what look like milk churns or chimney pots, split down the middle and usually rust-red in colour. Inscribed vertically on each are the place names of the Teesdale parishes whose boundaries they mark: Middleton-in-Teesdale, Eggleston, Romaldkirk, Hunderthwaite, Cotherstone, Lartingon, Barnard Castle, Startforth*, Marwood*, Egglestone Abbey*, Rokeby, Wycliffe, Westwick*, Whorlton, Winston and Gainford.
All are part of a publicly funded project created by sculptor Richard Wentworth titled simply ‘Marking the Parish Boundaries’. Commissioned by Teesdale District Council in 1996 at a cost of £70,000, it was the first public art project to be funded by the UK’s National Lottery.
At a time when there’s no shortage of public art ‘Marking the Parish Boundaries’ is – in my humble opinion – a sympathetic and well-integrated project that doesn’t demand attention but allows you to notice and appreciate it on your own terms. Often hiding in plain sight, they can be easy to miss but fun to find. Those marked with an asterisk are found on older or alternative versions of the route which are usually still way-marked. I always take pleasure in noticing them though the Barnard Castle/Westwick and Whorlton/Winston pairs continue to elude me. If they’re still (or were ever) in place and you happen to know where they are, please leave a comment.
The 35 mm Slide. “Teesdale Way.” The 35mm Slide, 15 January 2013, https://the35mmslide.wordpress.com/2013/01/15/teesdale-way/. Accessed 29 October 2020. Durham County Council. “Parish Markers.” I-See Public Art County Durham, no. 1973-2009, 2009. Durham County Council, http://www.durham.gov.uk/media/3804/i-see-public-artwork-County-Durham/pdf/ISeePublicArtworkCountyDurham.pdf. Accessed 29 October 2020. Wikipedia contributors. “Richard Wentworth (artist).” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 09 August 2020, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Richard_Wentworth_(artist)&oldid=972014428. Accessed 29 October 2020.