Caelum Mór - Atlas Obscura

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Caelum Mór

Arlington, Texas

Fears of Satanic worshippers swirl around five Celtic-inspired megaliths. 

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In the 1980s, an arrangement of five megalithic sculptures was set in a five-acre public park in Arlington, Texas. The sculpture, known as one of the largest environmental sculptures in the Western Hemisphere, was built to adorn the local Highlands Business Park. Commissioned by Jane Mathes Kelton, an heir of Scottish television magnate Curtis Mathes, in 1984, the sculpture has a long and surprisingly controversial history. 

During and after the installation of the park, local churches began to claim that the sculptures were Satanic. In a coalition loosely helmed by megachurch minister Michael Tummillo, over two dozen clergypeople started a crusade against the sculpture. 

A letter opposing Caelum Mór entitled “Please, No Witchcraft Park in Arlington” compared the park’s existence to “tugging on the devil’s cape.” Dena Smith, a pastor of a different church, claimed to have already witnessed Wiccan rituals being performed at the stones; other pastors stated that they had evidence of animal sacrifices.

In the end, the divine smiting hoped for by the park’s opponents came to pass. The land on which Caelum Mór sat, near the headwaters of Johnson Creek, was bought out by a developer in 1997. The ostensibly occult stones would then languish in storage for over a decade until being planted near the Dallas Cowboys stadium. Naturally, as soon as it was back in place, claims began that the Dallas Cowboys were attempting to siphon Satanic power.

In 2006, minister Tummillo, reflecting on what he called “a spiritual battle” comparable to the Charge of the Light Brigade in a piece he later wrote online, discussed the backlash he and his church received after he attempted to have the stones removed.

The mundane lore of the stones is equally interesting, if less dramatic. Norman Hines, a professor at Pomona College, built Caelum Mór. The then-47-year-old had previously built nothing bigger than a fountain, but still proceeded to complete the huge stone sculptures in less than two years. The stones, made of Texas pink granite that Hines quarried, processed, and carved, came from 200 miles outside the city. 

The project only cost $1.5 million according to the City of Arlington, despite its appraised value being double that figure. In sharp contrast to the Satanic fears of the park’s critics, the developer who commissioned the park called it a miracle and said she’d have raised $5 million if needed to secure such a spectacular landmark. 

Know Before You Go

The sculptures are located within Richard Greene Linear Park and are sometimes called Caelum Moor.

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