The sculpture ‘Pillars Past’ is just a couple of minutes walk from Pateley Bridge town centre. It can be found by following the Six Dales Trail towards Glasshouses alongside the River Nidd. Commissioned by Sustrans, it forms part of the public art trail ‘Passing Places’ which mirrors the long distance Way Of The Roses Cycle Route.
This coast-to-coast route between Morecambe and Bridlington passes through some of the most beautiful landscape in the north of England, and ‘Passing Places’ was developed as a public art project with the aim of adding a cultural and historic experience to enrich the travellers’ journey. Pateley Bridge, sited half way along the route, was selected as the location for one of the pieces of public art.
Created by Joseph Hayton, the sculpture ‘Pillars Past’ comprises three figures, in a circular formation, representing the lead mining, agricultural and monastic past that has shaped the landscape in and around Pateley Bridge. Emerging from the monumental blocks of Yorkshire sandstone, the figures engage with both the present, and the viewer who stands in the centre of the circle.
The lead miner
Lead mining dates to Roman times in the dale and had a major impact on the local economy until around the 1890s when lead extraction ceased due to cheap imports. The figure of the lead miner was based on Paul Reinsch who has been helping to restore local mines in Greenhow.
Fountains Abbey and Bylands Abbey shaped Nidderdale, having major land holdings from 1200 until the dissolution of the monasteries. The Archbishop of York once owned the township of Pateley Bridge. The figure of the monk was based on John Hayton, Joseph’s father.
The sheep farmer
Sheep farming has been crucial to the economy of Nidderdale from medieval times when Fountains Abbey and Bylands Abbey had substantial granges where sheep farming was predominant. Sheep farming still dominates the land today and the shepherd was based on John Rayner, a sheep farmer, whose farm at Gouthwaite was established in the 1200s and is on record for supplying produce to Fountains Abbey.