Angel of the North

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Angel of the North
The Angel of the North, from the bottom of the hill looking up at the Angel.
The Angel of the North, October 2014
Angel of the North is located in Tyne and Wear
Angel of the North
Location within Tyne and Wear
General information
LocationLow Eighton, Gateshead, NE9
United Kingdom NE9 7TY
Coordinates54°54′54″N 1°35′24″W / 54.915°N 1.59°W / 54.915; -1.59Coordinates: 54°54′54″N 1°35′24″W / 54.915°N 1.59°W / 54.915; -1.59
Elevation75 metres (246.1 ft)
Construction started1994
Height20 metres (65.6 ft)
Design and construction
ArchitectAntony Gormley (artist)
Structural engineerOve Arup
Main contractorHartlepool Steel Fabrications

The Angel of the North is a contemporary sculpture, designed by Antony Gormley, located in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, England.

Completed in 1998, it is a steel sculpture of an angel, 20 metres (66 ft) tall, with wings measuring 54 metres (177 ft) across.[1] The wings do not stand straight sideways, but are angled 3.5 degrees forward; Gormley did this to create "a sense of embrace".[2] The angel, like much of Gormley's other work, is based on a cast of his own body.[3]

It stands on the hill of Birtley, at Low Eighton in Lamesley, overlooking the A1 and A167 roads into Tyneside, and the East Coast Main Line rail route, south of the site of Team Colliery.[4]


According to Gormley, the significance of an angel was three-fold: first, to signify that beneath the site of its construction, coal miners worked for two centuries; second, to grasp the transition from an industrial to an information age, and third, to serve as a focus for our evolving hopes and fears.[2]


Work began on the project in 1994, and cost £800,000.[5] Most of the project funding was provided by the National Lottery. The Angel was installed on 15 February 1998.[6]

Due to its exposed location, the sculpture was built to withstand winds of over 100 mph (160 km/h). Thus, foundations containing 600 tonnes (590 long tons; 660 short tons) of concrete anchor the sculpture to rock 70 feet (21 m) below. The sculpture was built at Hartlepool Steel Fabrications Ltd using COR-TEN weather-resistant steel. It was made in three parts—with the body weighing 100 tonnes (98 long tons; 110 short tons) and two wings weighing 50 tonnes (49 long tons; 55 short tons) each—then brought to its site by road. The components were transported in convoy—the body on a 48-wheel trailer—from their construction site in Hartlepool, up the A19 road to the installation site 28 miles (45 km) away; the nighttime journey took five hours and attracted large crowds.[6][7]

The Angel aroused some controversy in British newspapers, at first, including a "Gateshead stop the statue" campaign, while local councillor Martin Callanan was especially strong in his opposition. However, it has since been considered to be a landmark for North East England[6][8] and has been listed by one organisation as an "Icon of England".[9] It has often been used in film and television to represent Tyneside, as are other local landmarks such as the Tyne Bridge and the Gateshead Millennium Bridge.

The sculpture is also humorously known by some local people as the "Gateshead Flasher", because of its location and appearance.[10]


Several maquettes were produced during the development stage of the project.[11] A life-size model from which the sculpture was created was sold at auction for £2.28 million in July 2008.[12] An additional bronze maquette used in fundraising in the 1990s, owned by Gateshead Council, was valued at £1 million on the BBC show Antiques Roadshow on 16 November 2008—the most valuable item ever appraised on the programme.[11][13] In 2011 German fashion designer Wolfgang Joop sold his life-size maquette (previously kept in the garden of his mansion in Potsdam, Germany) at an auction at Christie's in London for £3.4 million to an anonymous bidder.[14][15] Another maquette was donated to the National Gallery of Australia in 2009, and stands in its Sculpture Garden.[16]

Other projects[edit]

Inspired by the Angel of the North, several similar projects have been proposed. The Angel of the South title has been given by some to the Willow Man, which sits to the side of the M5 in Somerset, while the White Horse at Ebbsfleet has been proposed for Ebbsfleet Valley, Kent. The sculpture Brick Man (also by Gormley) was proposed for the Holbeck area of Leeds.

Photo gallery[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Facts". Retrieved 18 October 2010.
  2. ^ a b "The Angel of the North > Background". Gateshead Council. Archived from the original on 29 March 2007. Retrieved 9 March 2007. Gormley said of the Angel: '...The effect of the piece is in the alertness, the awareness of space and the gesture of the wings – they are not flat, they're about 3.5 degrees forward and give a sense of embrace.'
  3. ^
  4. ^ Durham Mining Museum. "Durham Mining Museum – 1951 Durham Map 23". Retrieved 18 October 2010.
  5. ^ "Angel facts". Gateshead council. 16 February 1998. Retrieved 16 June 2015.
  6. ^ a b c "The angel has landed". BBC News. 16 February 1998. Retrieved 9 March 2007.
  7. ^ Williams, Francesca (11 February 2018). "Angel of the North: The icon that was nearly never built". BBC. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  8. ^ "Angel of the North". Archived from the original on 4 April 2007. Retrieved 9 March 2007.
  9. ^ "Icons of England". Retrieved 18 October 2010.
  10. ^ Higgins, Charlotte (27 September 2010). "Antony Gormley". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 30 August 2010. Retrieved 28 September 2010.
  11. ^ a b "Angel of the north is one in a million". Gateshead Council. 17 November 2008. Retrieved 19 November 2008.
  12. ^ "Buyer pays £2.3m for Angel model". BBC News. 2 July 2008. Retrieved 4 October 2015.
  13. ^ "Antiques Roadshow finds £1m Angel". BBC News. 16 November 2008. Retrieved 1 January 2010.
  14. ^ "Joop lets his angel fly". Bild. 23 October 2011. Retrieved 25 August 2015.
  15. ^ "Antony Gormley's 'Angel of North' sold at auction". BBC. 15 October 2011. Retrieved 25 August 2015.
  16. ^ "Angel of the North (life-size maquette) 1996". Collection search. National Gallery of Australia. Retrieved 6 January 2013.

External links[edit]