Milton Keynes, located pretty much in the middle of England, is one of the “new towns” built in postwar Britain to house a growing population outside of London. The idea was to build a number of towns from scratch and “MK,” founded in 1967, is the largest and perhaps best-known of these. It also hides a curious secret in plain sight.
Though it’s generally unsuspected by the casual visitor, Milton Keynes, which tends to conjure up images of concrete cow sculptures and myriad parking spaces and roundabouts, was also designed as a temple to the Sun. The urban plan called for the streets to be arranged in a neat grid pattern aligned along north-south and east-west axes. But surprisingly, the grid was actually built at a slight offset. When construction began in the early ’70s, the lead architect Derek Walker decided to shift the city plan a few degrees, realizing that doing so would allow the streets to align with the sunrise on the summer solstice.
Sure enough, on the longest day of the year, the sun would rise at the east end of the town’s Midsummer Boulevard and shine down its length to reflect off the windows of the railway station at the far end. (In stereotypical ’70s fashion, the architects reportedly celebrated with an all-night bonfire, some marijuana, and Pink Floyd.)
Sadly, a shopping center has since blocked the alignment of the solstice sun along the boulevard. However, the town’s mystic draw lives on. In 2012, a 20-foot-tall sculpture known as Light Pyramid was built on parkland at the eastern end of Midsummer Boulevard, right at the point where the sun rises on the solstice. The astronomically aligned town continues to attract pagan spiritualists and leyline hunters to this day.
Know Before You Go
The Light Pyramid located in Campbell Park, at the easternmost end of Midsummer Boulevard.
There is off-street parking along the edge of Campbell Park on Avebury Boulevard.