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Timeline: The appearances and disappearances of the mysterious monoliths around the world

A number of these tall, shiny, metal structures have popped up in various countries in recent weeks.
Dec 13th 2020, 9:30 AM 31,923 19

california-monolith A monolith stands on a Stadium Park hillside in Atascadero, California Source: Kaytlyn Leslie/The Tribune via PA Images

MYSTERIOUS MONOLITHS HAVE been popping up in random locations around the world in recent weeks, including a Dutch heath, the Isle of Wight and an American desert.

A number of these tall, shiny, metal structures have been found at sites in various countries without warning or explanation since November.

So, how did this saga begin?

The first metal edifice was found planted in the ground in a remote part of Utah at the end of November.

The structure was originally spotted on 18 November by state officials who were helping to count sheep from a helicopter. How it got there was unclear.

News of the discovery quickly went viral around the world, with many noting the object’s similarity with strange alien monoliths that trigger huge leaps in human progress in Stanley Kubrick’s classic sci-fi film 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Some observers pointed out the object’s resemblance to the avant-garde work of John McCracken, a US artist who lived for a time in nearby New Mexico and died in 2011.

McCracken’s representatives have given ambiguous and at times conflicting responses to this theory, prolonging an international guessing game.

This guessing game only intensified after the monolith disappeared on 27 November. However, within days the mystery was somewhat solved.

mysterious-monolith Utah state workers walk near a metal monolith planted in the ground in a remote area of red rock in Utah Source: AP/PA Images

Images emerged on 1 December of four men working in the dead of night to remove the strange, triangular pillar.

Later that day, a 34-year-old adventure sportsman called Andy Lewis posted a video on YouTube titled, “We removed the Utah monolith”.

It featured near-identical images and a short clip of the monolith seemingly being wheeled away, but no further explanation was provided.

It was unclear at the time whether the men who removed the object were the same ones who installed it.


Just days after the discovery of the Utah monolith, reports of a similar object being discovered on a hilltop in northern Romania emerged.

The Jurnal FM radio station headed out to investigate the monolith, located in Neamt, after an email about it arrived in the last week of November.

“We were surprised to say the least when we found a … metallic structure which had spirals engraved on its sides”, the station said in a story posted on its website.

romania-us-metal-monolith A metal structure sticks from the ground on the Batca Doamnei hill, outside Piatra Neamt, northern Romania Source: Robert Iosub via PA Images

Asked about the reactions to the structure, reporter Cirprian Solomon of Jurnal FM said the attention it has garnered “has a lot to do with Utah”.

“There are a lot of unanswered questions,” Solomon told AFP, adding: “Why in Neamt? Why now?”

The Romanian monolith disappeared on 30 November, just as mysteriously as it appeared. Who placed it there to begin with remains a mystery.

Back to the US

Just days after the discovery and swift disappearance of the Utah and Romanian monoliths, another towering structure popped up – this time at the pinnacle of a trail in southern California.

Its straight sides and height appear similar to ones discovered in the Utah desert and in Romania.

Like those structures, the origins of the California edifice were also mysterious.

This monolith was located at the top of a hill in Atascadero, about halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

And like the other monoliths before it, the California structure vanished as strangely as it appeared on 3 December.

california-monolith A monolith stands on a Stadium Park hillside in Atascadero, California Source: Kaytlyn Leslie/The Tribune via PA Images

An anonymous collective called The Most Famous Artist has since taken credit for the monoliths in Utah and California.

It posted an image of the Utah monolith on Instagram, with a $45,000 price tag.

And back to Europe

On 6 December, hikers found a metal monolith on a heath near the Kiekeberg nature reserve in the Netherlands. 

“We know that it was probably placed this weekend because some hikers who were walking there found it, but we don’t know [how] it got there,” a spokesperson for the Dutch Forestry Commission told AFP the following day. 

Photos in Dutch media showed the object in Friesland with a dull silver-coloured surface, standing next to a marshy pool on frosty ground.

Local broadcaster Omrop Fryslan said the Dutch object was not shiny like the other monoliths although it was a similar size and shape.

“I walked up to it, but there was nothing to be seen around the monolith. Just as if it was placed from above,” hiker Thijs de Jong, the first person to find the obelisk, told Omrop Fryslan, adding that it would “certainly have needed two or more people” to place it.

The broadcaster said there were suspicions the obelisk could be a stunt by a ‘New Year’s Eve club”, a tradition in the north of the Netherlands to draw attention to a village or association.

But it quoted de Jong as saying that there was no such club in the area. “I myself am thinking more of a kind of artist collective that does something like that,” he said.

United Kingdom

Over in the UK, reports emerged on 7 December of a monolith being discovered on Compton Beach on the Isle of Wight.

Island resident Alexia Fishwick said the discovery was “really quite magical”.

She told the PA news agency it was “pure chance” that she came across it.

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“I’d read about the one in Utah and then Romania, so I knew the significance,” she said.

“Many people took no notice of it.”

monolith-on-the-isle-of-wight The monolith found on Compton Beach, on the Isle of Wight Source: Alexia Fishwick via PA Images

The following day, a designer came forward claiming to have created this monolith. 

Tom Dunford (29), from Fishbourne, West Sussex, told the BBC that he created the structure “purely for fun”. 

He said: “If the aliens were to come down I think they’d go for the safest place which is the Isle of Wight in Tier 1 (Covid restrictions).

“When I saw the first one pop up (in Utah) I thought it was brilliant, the second one popped up and I had a text from a friend which said ‘You’re the man that can do this on the island’.”

The National Trust said it has placed rangers at the beach to prevent any overcrowding as people have been travelling to the site to take photographs.

Over to Poland

Most recently, it was reported on Thursday that yet another mysterious monolith had popped up. This one is located on a riverbank in the Polish capital of Warsaw. 

Joggers noticed the triangular pillar during their morning run along the Vistula river, according to local media reports.

It stands some three metres (10 feet) tall, has a dull silver-coloured surface, is held together by screws and is planted in the sand of the riverbank near a major bridge.

As of Thursday, no one had claimed responsibility for the installation. 

Other monoliths have popped in elsewhere in the world in recent weeks, including in Belgium, Finland, Colombia and a number of states in the US. 

So, are all of these appearances connected?

The answer to that remains unclear. 

As noted above, an anonymous collective called The Most Famous Artist has since taken credit for the monoliths in Utah and California.

The monolith on the Isle of Wight has also been claimed by designer Tom Dunford.

Those responsible for the other monoliths that have popped up around the world have yet to come forward. As a result, it’s yet to be determined whether any of the appearances other than Utah and California are connected.

And so, the mystery of the monoliths (for the most part) continues.

With reporting by Press Association and © AFP 2020

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Hayley Halpin


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