Giant sand lizard migrates to Corfe Castle

First it popped up at East Creech in Purbeck and now the 20 metre long Sand Lizard has been caught on film spending the last couple of weeks in the shadow of the ruins of Corfe Castle.

The stunning drone images by photographer Paul Harris, show the temporary art installation on the north slip of the castle mound just before the sun dropped below a neighbouring hill.

Sand lizard at Corfe Castle
NT / Paul Harris

What a view – the Sand Lizard, National Trust Corfe Castle and a Swanage Railway steam locomotive all in one shot!

Hard to ignore and inspiring

The lizard, which arrived in time for the Planet Purbeck Festival, will stay at Corfe Castle until the beginning of October 2023.

It has been created by local artist Eilidh Middleton from Church Knowle, who has a reputation for creating hard to ignore and inspiring art installations across Purbeck and beyond.

She is keen to point out that what people see isn’t a ‘fluffy’ lizard but a message. While the sand lizard as a species does exist in Purbeck, it’s becoming an increasingly endangered reptile in the UK.

The idea behind the eye-catching work of art, backed by the wildlife charity Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, is to raise awareness of this issue and get people talking.

Sand lizard at Corfe Castle
NT / Paul Harris

While actually made from plywood, the Sand Lizard was made to look like it was carved into chalk, inspired by the unmissable Cerne Abbas Giant in Dorset

“Plight of this tiny creature”

Eilidh Middleton said:

“When given the generous offer from the National Trust to relocate the Sand Lizard installation to Corfe Castle I considered what a pop up art installation was.

“I believe it’s a once off, a huge surprise that passes through our lives briskly and then disappears. This is what gives a message impact.

“However this installation’s message is about the plight of this tiny creature, not the accolades of the Art itself: so the twenty metre long Lizard has now relocated to Corfe Castle. Many more people have seen it and will continue to enjoy it until early October.”

Sand lizard at Corfe Castle
NT / Paul Harris

Not a ‘fluffy’ lizard but a message on the Mound

Where next?

The National Trust got special permission from Historic England in order for the temporary installation to appear on the Corfe Castle mound, a listed monument.

It will be carefully removed at the beginning of October 2023, leaving no permanent trace.

While Eilidh never intended her Sand Lizard to be anything other than temporary, the success of the project may see it popping up again in Purbeck. But where next? Keep your eyes peeled!

Further information

  • More about Eilidh Middleton’s work is on Instagram
  • Information about the sand lizard and other native reptiles is on the ARC website
  • More about National Trust Corfe Castle

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