A “totem” has mysteriously emerged on top of a cliff along the southern coast of Britain. It’s not currently known who created the sculpture or placed it there, but locals are keen to find out so they can secure planning permission before it's hastily taken away by the authorities.
The pole recently appeared overnight at a nature reserve in Capel-Le-Ferne along the cliff-top path on the North Downs Way between Dover and Folkestone, according to the Kent Wildlife Trust. Carved from a single tree trunk, it measures around 2.4 meters (8 feet) tall and features an inscription of the name Perkūnas.
Perkūnas is the god of lightning, thunder, and storms associated with Baltic mythology, primarily around the area of present-day Lithuania and Latvia. As one of the most powerful deities in the Baltic pantheon of gods, Perkūnas is often equated with the ancient Greek god Zeus, the Norse god Thor, and the Roman god Jupiter.
How the totem ended up here is anyone’s guess at the moment, although it was clearly crafted by someone with a great deal of skill.
“The artist behind this would have spent hours painstakingly carving out the details and we are keen to keep it on our reserve. The artwork seems to be a hit with the walkers who have taken selfies and congratulated us on the installation, but we had no idea how it came to be there – it’s a ‘Totem’ mystery,” Ian Rickards, Area Manager from the Kent Wildlife Trust, said in a statement.
Locals appear to have taken kindly to the pole, but its future is not yet secured. Local authorities have requested that the Kent Wildlife Trust submit retrospective planning permission to keep the sculpture in place. As part of this process, the trust is keen to identify the elusive artist.
“The local council has given us eight weeks to submit planning permission and it would be great to track down the person behind ‘Perkūnas to get a bit more detail so we can keep it. The planning application will incur a cost to the Trust, so if anyone would like to make a donation to help fund the process, it would be gratefully received,” added Rickards.
Fans of unexpected pole erections may remember the news from late 2020 – a delirious phase of the COVID-19 pandemic – when a 3-meter (9.8-foot) tall metallic structure emerged in the desert of Utah with no explanation. As the weeks went on, more monoliths showed up in Romania, California, and Turkey. Eventually, dozens were found scattered across the world.
It turned out, the Utah monolith was placed on public land (without any permission, tut tut) in 2015/16 and stood unnoticed for over four years. The conceptual art collective, "The Most Famous Artist," claimed responsibility for the act, although it was never categorically proven it was them (plus there's the possibility they're just trolling). The other monoliths around the world, it seems, were copycats.
However, the whole story has never been fully explained. Who knows, perhaps the Perkūnas pole is the next chapter of the tale. Keep your eyes peeled for wood-carved pagan artifacts mysteriously emerging in your local area. Just remember to always apply for planning permission unless you want a mildly annoyed local council on your case.