Set in the Pentland Hills, near Edinburgh, Little Sparta is Ian Hamilton Finlay's greatest work of art. Finlay moved to the farm of Stonypath in 1966 and, in partnership with his wife Sue Finlay, began to create what would become an internationally acclaimed garden across seven acres of a wild and exposed moorland site.
Collaborating with stone carvers, letterers and at times other artists and poets, the numerous sculptures and artworks created by Finlay, which are all integral to the garden, explore themes as diverse as the sea and its fishing fleets, our relationship to nature, classical antiquity, the French Revolution and the Second World War. Individual poetic and sculptural elements, in wood, stone and metal, are sited in relation to carefully structured landscaping and planting. In this way, the garden in its entirety is the artwork.
How to find us
Driving From Edinburgh - Follow the A702 as far as Dolphinton, where there is a right turn to Dunsyre. Follow signs to Dunsyre (about 3 miles). About a mile after passing through Dunsyre, Little Sparta‚Äôs car park is on the right hand side.
Driving From Glasgow - Leave the M8 at junction 6a for the A73, then turn left onto the A721 at Carluke; continue to Newbigging where there is a left turn to Dunsyre. After about 3 miles,and before reaching Dunsyre, Little Sparta‚Äôs car park is on the left.
SatNav Warning - Little Sparta's postcode is ML11 8NG, but this is shared with the neighbouring farms. SatNav may direct you to turn off the road opposite a row of cottages ‚Äì do not follow this instruction! Little Sparta's car park is about a mile closer to Dunsyre, directly adjacent to the road. If you don't see a sign saying Little Sparta, you are in the wrong place.
Visit Scotland three star garden.
- The Front Garden is the original cottage garden of Stonypath.
- The Temple Pool Garden in some ways is the centre of the garden.
- The Woodland Garden adjoins the Temple Pool; it leads to the Wild Garden.
- Lochan Eck Garden fringes the open water with the monolithic Nuclear Sail.
- The Allotment & Kailyard are productive vegetable gardens.
Our Head Gardener's Tours last about 1 hour and are suitable for groups of up to 20 people. The fee is ¬£50 in addition to the admission fee. Larger groups can be split into two 30 minute tours. Head Gardener, George Gilliland, takes visitors to selected areas of the garden and explains the horticultural and poetical significance of the poem-objects and their settings.We welcome group visits; please contact us to book. Group rates are available for groups of more than 20 people.
We welcome group visits; please contact us to book. Group rates are available for groups of more than 20 people.
- Woodland Gardens
- Water Gardens
Little Sparta is usually open to visitors from June to September. An audio tour is available to download all year round. Please check our website.
Admission pricesAdult: £12.50 Child: £7.50
Limited accessibility for wheelchair users owing to steep hillsides, narrow paths (which are part of the artwork and so cannot be modified), gravel and steps.
AddressLittle Sparta / Stonypath
Phone+44 (0)7826 495677
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