Tim Daw is stretching the concept of agricultural diversification with a venture like no other in the world. He’s building a burial mound on his farm and when it’s completed, Daw will sell space to accommodate the ashes of 2,400 people.
Daw, 52, a small farmer with 220 acres in Wiltshire, England, is not just dozing dirt into a pile and selling holes — he’s going Neolithic, using massive stones "similar to those at nearby Stonehenge" (up to 1 ton) to form the mound base. His mound (on schedule to be completed in six months) will be 164 feet long and contain a series of chambers lined with niches — each capable of holding the remains of up to eight people and selling for about $2,500 (includes niche, lease fee and interment charge).
The walk-in mound will be aligned so the sun’s rays hit the central chamber on the winter solstice. "The sunrise will come up through the hills and shine right down through the length of the long barrow to the end of the passageway," he tells the BBC.
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According to The Independent, in addition to his farm, Daw has been working "as a steward at Stonehenge," for two years. His giant tomb will be the first mound built in England for 5,000 years and the pagan community may be revved up for a bit of Neolithic slumber.
Daw’s mound will be ideally located, playing to the crop circle crowd and the close proximity of Neolithic monuments — including Silbury Hill, at 131 feet high the tallest man-made mound in Europe: "I realized I had a very special site here on my farm, so it sort of made sense." Special indeed; the pagans are apparently grabbing their spots early, even before marketing and promotion. "We’ve already had five people sign up, and that’s without really pushing it at all."
According to Daw’s website, he hopes "to finish the first two phases and the landscaping in the summer of 2014." Initially, 300 niches will be available as burial niches.
Theater of the macabre or sign of the times, the afterlife is raining options: diamonds for the dead, outer space bliss, eternal reefs, or even cryogenics and a frozen Ted Williams. Hey, in an age when the Splendid Splinter is stored in pieces and awaiting regeneration, maybe nothing should surprise — not even a modern burial mound in the middle of a farm.