Cave of Clay, Moray, Scotland

The Ground is Humming : one of the chamber series from Shamanzone.

Cave of Clay: a storehouse of ancient wisdom

written by the chamber care-taker, Stella Longland.

1 ( site in 2001)

don’t get diverted from this page just now! but here is a link to another website where I go into more detail about the work which is worship:
something does happen


In 2003, when I came home after participating in a dance ceremony, I noticed that there was a place in my garden where I could build a sound peace chamber.


A structure would fit perfectly into the sloping ground between the birch trees and the perimeter hedge, and, at half the size of Joseph’s original chamber, it could meet the specifications to qualify for a planning waiver. 



 This is a diagram of the sacred geometry incorporated into the body of the building:

2 (circles of light)








And this is how it appears in the structure:

3 (ground plan Cave of Clay) 




 My brother drew up detailed architectural plans for a brick-built oval chamber.  I intended to find a local builder and hand the whole project over, I had retired and, anyway, I didn’t know how to build: I had made curtains for a living.  I saw the builder in a meditation in the form of a golden brick, and, when I found him, my budget was not big enough! 

 While wondering how to proceed I heard of a man who was interested in exploring alternative building techniques.  We met, had a chat, and decide to dig the hole.  In one afternoon the hole was excavated and entirely surrounded by large heaps of clay.  To our amazement, under a thin layer of topsoil was a solid bed of stony clay.  Bagged earth was the answer! 

 That night it rained, there was no drain and the hole became a pond.  Well, good, I was able to spray paint a line along the top of the water which was the only level on the entire site. 

 4 (using a water level)

It was a long while of wall building before the clay piles reduced enough to enable a drain to be dug.  Luckily it was an exceptionally dry year, but always remember to think of the drains.

In the next picture the first three drainage layers of bagged gravel have been laid.

 5 (first stage of construction)

A rubber membrane divides those layers from the bagged clay layers above, and this membrane runs up the outside of the clay filled bags to 8″ above ground level all round, and folds back into the wall at that height.  The chamber sits four foot in the ground at the oval south west end, and the floor is at ground level at the north east end.  The sub floor of the chamber is filled with the larger stones rejected from the broken up clay as too big to go into the bags.  Water percolates through the gravel filled layers, runs through these stones, over the sloping sub floor to the drain which takes it to a stream nearby.  It is important to buy or make all the bags out of uncoated woven polypropylene so that they are porous, not only at the drainage levels, but all the way up the wall.

6 (filling and laying the bags)


 The broken up clay was poured into the bags with the aid of an adapted golf bag.  As the bags filled they were laid along the wall and then tamped into shape.  The clay went into the bags only as moist as the atmosphere, this made it lighter, easier to handle and more stable.


In the next picture the bagged walls are completed up to the roof line.  Unlike a breeze block building, the door frame was put in place first and the walls were built to it.  So also the windows, which were constructed and then placed on the walls, they have no glass but two sets of shutters can be used to keep out the cold, and insect screens inserted for the summer months.

 7 (bagged to the roof line)

By this time my budget was almost spent and the roof construction was entirely done with the help of voluntary labour by friends who were interested in the project.

 In January 2005, a hurricane struck Scotland.  The loss of trees was enormous and it was from some of those fallen trees that the ceiling of the peace chamber was made.  The next picture shows the beautiful ceiling and the square opening in the centre which is covered by a trapdoor that can be opened to allow entry from above, not only of light, but also of people.  By means of a wooden ladder they can descend for ceremony. 

 8 (ceiling showing square opening)

 Above the logs a ply board platform was built, with a fall to a spout to take the roof water down a drainpipe on the outside of the building to the same drain as the sub floor.  The bagged layers were continued above the roof level to form a parapet.  The platform was covered with a waterproof membrane, which runs up three layers of the bags that form the parapet and folds back into the wall; heavy duty 2″ polystyrene insulation and, finally, slabs.  The roof area is flat and people can sit up there, enjoying the view over the Moray Firth.  9 (lime-coating complete)


 When all this work on the roof was complete, the walls were lime-coated inside and out using a technique of hydraulic spraying.  I had been hanging on to enough money for this and it was done.

 A final coat of a mixture of lime wash and finely sieved clay was painted onto the internal walls. 


My friends helped to level the sub floor with gravel and then to tamp it.  A 3″ layer of clay, rubbed through the same 5 mm sieve, was laid on top and also tamped.  The clay was then thoroughly wetted, floated off, and left to dry. 

All the colours in the chamber are earthy and soothing.

10 (earth colours) 


 It felt like the chamber was almost finished,

but it was two more years before I found the person

who would undertake to complete the parapet. 


And when that was done it looked like this:



 11 (roof) 

To remind us that we belong to the earth we can descend into the chamber through the square opening on the roof, and in the centre of the floor below there is a sacred round hole connecting us to the Vast Self. 

 12 (mother earth's navel)



This can be covered and brought up to the floor level with a cross section of a large tree that fell in the storm.

 13 (a channel of light)




The chamber encapsulates the essence of peace and we go there to explore peace.

14 (thro the north window)

The structure picks up and reflects the light, and the chamber sits in the garden as if it had always been here.

15 (winter light 2009)


white border

Filed under: Chambers | Posted on March 16th, 2010 by Stella

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