BOOKS will be used as the building blocks for a rather innovative new milecastle on Hadrian’s Wall.

For artist Dawn Felicia Knox is about to construct one of her own at Walltown out of thousands of tomes donated by members of the public.

She needs more, however, and she wouldn’t mind a hand with the building work either!

Old atlases, encyclopaedias, history books and guide books will all be grist to the mill, said Jane Brantom, one of the trustees of the Hadrian Arts Trust, which commissioned the piece.

Christened Simulacrum , the art installation will raise questions of impermanence and preservation at a place where the original stretch of Wall has long since been removed.

Jane said: “Designed to last for only 28 days, it will be built not of stone, but of books – obsolete encyclopaedias will become the cornerstones and redundant law journals the archways.

“Over 4,000 books have already been donated, books that otherwise would have been pulped or placed in a landfill.”

The project will touch on the subjects of history, geography and archaeology, while reflecting on the arrival of literacy in Britain and the multicultural mix of those who once populated Rome’s most northern frontier.

Dawn said: “I am drawing from the precision and geometry of Roman structures in contrast to the subsuming natural environment.

“The sculpture will begin to decay almost immediately – rain will permeate the books, the sun will crack the book covers and plants will begin to take root.

“This will mirror the act of ruination of the Wall itself, be it at an accelerated pace.”

She will be at the Walltown recreational site (on the Military Road above Haltwhistle) for much of the 28 days of its existence, filming the process of decay and working with members of the Noize choir on a new composition inspired by the work.

Chairman of Hadrian Arts, Lindsay Allason-Jones, said: “The idea is to celebrate the introduction of literacy to Britain by the Romans.

“It is because they did so that we know so much about Hadrian’s Wall and those who lived here.”

Book donations and help with the construction will be welcome on Thursday, October 1, between 1pm and 4pm.

Anyone wishing to donate a large volume of books at another time can email the artist at:

Visitors will be able to see the completed sculpture between Saturday, October 3, and Friday, October 30.

The project is supported by the Northumberland National Park Authority and Arts Council England.