Anthorn
(2011)

C-print on archival paper from digital original
66 x 49 cm (85 x 70 cm framed)
edition of 5

A colour image of the Anthorn Low Frequency Station, a NATO transmitting station located in a remote part of the north Cumbrian coast, by the Solway Firth.


Further information

Driving from England to Scotland one day, I had no particular time constraints, so instead of taking the most direct route, I took the most indirect, taking in as many of the minute winding roads that describe the coastline of Cumbria. On this very overcast day, I spotted one particular prominence on the map – a lump of land with a coastal perimeter road, seemingly with nothing there. Intuition and experience, plus my liking of bleak spaces drew me to this supposedly empty place. As I approached, from several miles away I could see huge masts looming into the sky. Beguiled by their monolithic presence, I was delighted to discover that they were a major installation on this supposedly blank area of land.

There are 13 masts in total, and they are huge – so big and unlike the surrounding landscape that it was impossible to even estimate their size. Stopping several times as I encircled the site via car, I took many photos. The resultant image is full colour – the sky was almost perfectly uniformly grey, enhancing the contrast. The masts are 227 m (745 ft) high. I took photos with impunity, not realising that it was a military installation. On this visit, luckily, I was not challenged.

It was only when I got home and looked the installation up that I learned its function and history… As well as transmitting the National Physics Laboratory generated time signal (accurate to one second in 15 million years), Anthorn is also responsible for transmitting on VLF (very low frequency) to submarines…

This sinister purpose was made more apparent when I learned that VLF signals are used because they are “are relatively unaffected by atmospheric nuclear explosions and Anthorn was once part of the link between Fylingdales early warning radar, North Yorkshire, and the United States’ air defence system.”

For more information on Anthorn, click here (Wikipedia)