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Sleaford, Lincolnshire – Walking trail

A unique trail of cast bronze roundels maps out a walking route past public artworks, landmarks and points of interest in the Lincolnshire town of Sleaford. This case study forms part of the Value of culture - visitor economy section of our online Culture Hub.

Sleaford cast bronze roundels

‘When in Sleaford’ is a walking trail of 18 cast bronze roundels on a mapped-out route through the town. It was commissioned by North Kesteven District Council through artsNK (a team of visual and performing arts specialists which supports arts projects across the local area). ArtsNK worked on ‘When in Sleaford’ with artist David Mackie, William Alvey Church of England Primary School and local residents. The aim was to create a new town trail to celebrate Sleaford’s character and diversity and to link existing works of public art and places of interest. The project was supported by Sleaford Renewable Energy Plant, The Johnson & Mukherjee Charitable Trust and the Royal British Legion.

Impact of the project

Early inspiration came from two sources: a collection of Coritani coin moulds that had been found at Sleaford Old Place, indicating the presence of an important Iron Age mint, and the Cragg map of Sleaford which dates from around 1770. David Mackie worked with school pupils and local residents on the proposals for the bronze artworks, exploring the themes of local heritage, archaeology, architecture, topography and natural history.

The pupils worked with the shapes and symbols depicted on Coritani coins and developed designs by working on copies of the map. They also created imagery inspired by visits to St Denys’ Church, Sleaford Museum, historical buildings in the town, Sleaford’s public art collection and riverside walks. Workshops took place with textile artist Becky Adams for pupils at Carre’s Grammar School and St George’s Academy, as well as sessions with local families and voluntary groups. This resulted in designs that represent Sleaford’s seed industry and local folklore.

Before the ‘When in Sleaford’ roundels were installed in their permanent locations, an exhibition of all 18 of them together attracted more than 1,100 visitors and raised awareness of the trail.

Looking to the future

Now installed across the town, the roundels act as way-markers – mapping out pathways through and around Sleaford, informing residents and visitors about public artworks and highlighting landmarks and points of interest. The hope is that they will encourage people to pause and think about the locations where they are sited. It will also provide a new way for local people and families to get active and go on walks.

Maps can be downloaded or picked up from local visitor venues. The roundels are located in places where children can easily see and touch them, such as on walls and pavements, providing the opportunity to take along paper and crayons to create bronze rubbings. With more than 2.4 million people visiting North Kesteven during 2016, ‘When in Sleaford’ now provides a free-of-charge cultural experience for visitors and locals to enjoy.

Key learning points

  • Engagement with the schools and public to create designs for the roundels was well received and raised awareness of heritage sites in the town.
  • The primary school involved now uses the trail as part of its history lessons.
  • Placement of the roundels was carefully considered but the location of a few of them on the ground has been problematic. It was difficult to obtain consents for some roundels, and as a solution to this it was thought that placing them on the ground would add some variety for people following the trail. These floor-mounted roundels were placed in slabs of local Ancaster stone but have been affected by weather and dirt, whereas the wall-mounted ones are in pristine condition.

For further information, contact Mike Lock, Leisure and Cultural Services Manager, North Kesteven District Council: [email protected]