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Houghton Cross
Richard Long 2016

Find out more about the cross here


Whilst these questions have been designed to be suitable entry points for Key Stages 1-4, we would encourage you to use the questions as broadly and fully as is appropriate to your group.

Key Stage 1
What shapes can you see and what do they remind you of?
What treasure could be hidden underground?

Key Stage 2
What different meanings can you think of for a cross?
Who has marked this place?

Key Stage 3
See if you can form a circle around this work. Which person is standing in the most easterly position?
How has the artist marked this place?

Key Stage 4
From where might you have the best view of this work?
What implications arise from marking an area this way?

How might the Houghton Cross have a spiritual significance?
Why do you think the walled garden was chosen as a site for this work?

Back in the Classroom:
Imagine that you are an artist and create your own artist’s statement about this piece explaining what the work is about.


Made from slate from the Delabole Slate Quarry, Cornwall

Slate is formed by the transformation of sedimentary clays, compressed over millions of years by rocks above. Its layered structure can be easily split apart into thin, flat slabs like those in Houghton Cross. The slate quarries in Delabole, Cornwall still use traditional methods of working slate, such as hand splitting, alongside modern mechanized techniques. These large, jagged-edged slabs suggest something not deliberately worked but split apart through impact or blast. They are set into the ground partially upright and at odd angles to each other, creating a dynamism which is at odds with the formal structure of the cross.

The resources are below:


Crux: unignorable.

Armies of slates, ragged and jagged, not dove.
Pewter. Steel.

Glittering chevaux de frise : You could no more
cross it without laceration than cross a field
bristling with barbed wire.

Not Calvary. Not Tau, and not Swastika.
X marks the spot.

Lord of the Four Winds. His lair.

Resting-place for skulls of kings and heroes.

Station. Boundary marker. Fiery not weeping.

Is this nightmare or clean sweep? A dawn

Cross your fingers. Everything. Cross your heart.


by Kevin Crossley-Holland


NOTE: How much does the shape, material and situation (in a beautiful formal garden) of this piece matter?

Listen to an audio recording of X Marks The Spot.