Event took place in Northern Ireland.
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Lagan Valley AONB – County Down

Giant’s Ring, Belfast

A journey to an ancient site with our first Lumenators in Northern Ireland

The Giant’s Ring is just a few miles outside Belfast. It sits on an elevated site above the River Lagan, near the Shaw’s Bridge crossing, a point which has been used since at least the Stone Age. It’s a prehistoric enclosure, over 200 metres in diameter with a dolmen (a type of single chamber megalithic tomb) in the centre.

The dolmen tomb is made up of five upright stones and a large capstone, the bare frame of what was originally a chambered grave, covered with a cairn of stones (man-made pile of stones made for a purpose) and earth.

The big earthwork circle (an embankment made of earth) is a beautiful example of a henge monument (ring-shaped bank and ditch, with the ditch inside the bank), built in about 2700BC during the Neolithic period, which means it predates the Egyptian pyramids. This is one of the finest found anywhere in Britain and Ireland.

Event Notebook

Composer and musical director Katie Richardson worked with a mass choir featuring participants from local choirs from Greater Belfast and beyond. Braving the rain, the choir premiered a new piece of music written and composed by Richardson called: Darkness Before the Dawn.

Hooded drummer at dusk, with the last edges of a sunset behind him
Family participants laughing, holding their geolights, in the afternoon

Darkness before the Dawn

Written, arranged and produced by Katie Richardson
Recorded, mixed and mastered by George Sloan at Half Bap Studios

Performed by:
Green Spaces Dark Skies Choir
Katie Richardson – Vocals and electronics

Arco String Quartet:
Clare Hadwen – violin 1
Maebh Martin – violin 2
Richard Hadwen – viola
Sokol Koka – cello
Matt Vernon – Drums

You can download the score here

Eight drummers from The Beat performed on the Giant’s Ring alongside the Lumenators. Movement Direct Fleur Mellor worked with community groups of all ages, abilities and backgrounds to animate the space with a series of movement pieces to reveal the beauty of the natural landscape.

As the Lumenators took their positions in the evening, the heavens opened. But despite the rain the Lumenators, guided by In-Ear instructions and Movement Director Fleur Mellor, created patterns with their geolights filmed from above.

Attendee in waterproofs braving the weather
Attendee in creating movement with the green space dark skies geolight casting light on their face

These included a spiral, a wheel and a heart, before ending with a freeform rave inspired dance with their flashing geolights in different colours to represent the illegal raves that took place on the site in the 1990s.

Lagan Valley Regional Park volunteers collecting acorns from veteran oak at Moreland’s meadow.

About Lagan Valley AONB

Focused on the course of the River Lagan, this AONB is within easy access by the large population of the Belfast Urban Area.

Most of the AONB now lies within the Lagan Valley Regional Park which was designated in 1967. The riverbank scenery, meadows, woods and the pleasant pastoral land of the Lagan valley make this a peaceful haven. The area has a rich heritage, not only through its impressive monuments such as the Giant’s Ring, its early Christian raths and the remnants of fine estates, but also its important industrial archaeology related to linen production, the old Lagan Canal and its towpath.

Held at places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty, looked after by National Trust

We’d like to thank all the groups who participated in this event:

  • Age on Stage
  • BSPA (Belfast School of Performing Arts)
  • Caidre Community Choir
  • Cathedral Quarter Choir
  • Clare Novaes Ballet School
  • Counterpoint Choir
  • Féile Women Singing Group
  • New Lodge Youth Club
  • Ormeau Community Choir
  • Open House Festival Choir
  • Polercise
  • Clare Novaes, Gary Haddock, Megan Walker, Sarah McDowell and the individuals who made up the Green Space Dark Skies Pop-Up Choir


Thanks to our stakeholders:

  • Historic Environment Division
  • Lagan Valley Regional Park (AONB)
  • National Trust

Photography: Brian Morrison