Writ in Water, by Mark Wallinger for the National Trust, celebrates the legacy of the Magna Carta
Made in collaboration with Studio Octopi, the large-scale circular building emerges from the hillside at Runnymede, Surrey. The famed site, now cared for by the National Trust, saw feudal barons forcing King John to seal the Magna Carta some 800 years ago, a founding moment in shaping the basis of common law.
The site, set in the heart of ancient landscape, has an exterior doorway that leads to a simple circular labyrinth. The visitor can follow a path that leads into a central chamber, where sky can be seen through a wide oculus above a pool of water. The sides of the pool are inscribed with words inspired from Clause 39 of the Magna Carta:
‘No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land.’
Writ in Water takes its name from the inscription on John Keats’ gravestone: ‘Here lies one whose name was writ in water’. Reflecting on the founding principles of democracy and the meeting of water, sky and light, this artwork provides visitors with a space for quiet contemplation and reflection.