Carlo Scarpa Prize for Gardens Goes to an Irish Site

Apr 06, 2018 admin

Fondazione Benetton assigned the Carlo Scarpa Landscape Award for Gardens to Céide Fields, near Ballycastle, in County Mayo

Each year since 1990, the Scientific Committee of Fondazione Benetton Studi Ricerche, has been awarding a site rich in natural, historical and creative values, so that people can get acquainted with the intellectual and manual skills required to safeguard and promote the natural heritage subject to transformations in taste and roles during different civilizations or historical periods.

Céide Fields (‘flat topped hill fields’) were chosen for the 29th edition due to the presence of an extensive Neolithic rural landscape, buried under peat layers, even 4.5 m thick.

The reasons for the assignation of the Carlo Scarpa (great designer of the 20th century) Prize to Céide Fields, where awareness of the origin of the grown landscapes, biodiversity, ability to create a new landscape in extreme places, coexistence with the animals, understanding of the history of migrations and cultural melting pot. On this hills, as Irish poet Seamus Heaney wrote (1974),

“When he stripped off blanket bog/ The soft-piled centuries/ Fell open like a glib”.

In the Thirties, near Ballycastle, a small village on Ireland’s northwest coast, while a local schoolmaster, Patrick Caulfield, was digging for turf for domestic heating, he hit the stones that, being perfectly aligned, turned out to be the dividing walls of fields forming part of a vast agricultural settlement dated back to over 6,000 years ago.

The excavations done by that teacher’s son, archeologist Seamus Caulfield, revealed majestic covered tombs, dwellings and objects that illustrate how the ancient community lived in harmony building boats, breeding dairy cattle, growing barley and wheat in those fertile fields.

The extensive reticulate of dry-stone walls reveals a formerly buried geometry that climatic changes with the retreat of the original forests, the disappearance of meadows and the gradual, 6-thousand year long accumulation of a thick turf layer, have preserved until nowadays. [Giulia Bruno]