Seemed Like a Good Movie Replica, But All Our Hopes Were Shanghaied!

A shot of the Stonehenge in Shanghai Knights

A shot of the Stonehenge in Shanghai Knights

One of the movies listed in our Quick List of Stonehenge Movies post is the 2003 movie Shanghai Knights. The Stonehenge above is seen in the movie for a minute or so. Have a look: not too bad, right? Even the shapes of the stones are good. At last, an American movie replica that actually looks like Stonehenge. It even has the sheeps!

But then we sat down and looked at it for a while. There’s something funny about those sheep. They should be bigger because they’re closer but instead they seem to be about the size of chickens when compared to the people. Unless there’s a whole Wiltshire breed of mini-sheep that we never heard of, that’s wrong.

When we went on to examine the stones, the closer we looked, the more suspicious they seemed. Forget that it’s a series of trilithons instead of a stone circle. That’s such a common rookie error that it’s hardly worth mentioning. Before we say what we saw, take a moment and have a look for yourself at the photo at the top. See anything fishy?

Here’s what we realised upon close study: that there are only two trilithons there, both repeated with small changes so you don’t notice. What does that mean? It means the Shanghai Knights Stonehenge replica never existed except as pixels. It is, disappointingly, merely a virtual henge.

Another, rather lovely, view of the Shanghai Knights replica

Another, rather lovely, view of the Shanghai Knights replica

On the second view, the photo just above, it’s less obvious at first, but upon closer examination, it’s clear that it has been heavily retouched, with the bottoms of the stones particularly hazy.

We’re not shocked. After all, building a whole Stonehenge out in a field for a short scene in which the characters never actually interact with the stones would be a lot more trouble and expense, and, frankly, more environmental damage than it’s worth. Still, it stands as a sad reminder that as computer graphics improve, we aren’t likely to see many real Stonehenges built for movies anymore. *sad Clonehenge face* It heralds the end of an era.

Before we go, here are the lines from the Shanghai Knights Stonehenge scene:

Who would leave a pile of stones in the middle of a field?

I don’t know, John. These people are nuts.

It must be American humour, because if it’s funny, we don’t get it. Maybe the humour is virtual, to match the henge!

We haven’t wished our readers a Happy New Year for 2014, so we do so now. May this be your best year yet. Remember, building a Stonehenge replica is good luck! Maybe that’s why Shanghai Knights didn’t turn out to be a very good movie. By refusing to build a real henge, they invoked an ancient Clonehenge curse!

So build yourself a Stonehenge, and until next time, friends, happy henging!

Happy Winter Solstice to All!

a bronze display model of Stonehenge in the new Visitor Centre

a bronze display model of Stonehenge in the new Visitor Centre

There is much to celebrate for Stonehenge lovers this week! Winter solstice is upon us, arguably the date for which Stonehenge was built, and the date of its great early festivals, AND this week marked the opening, at long last, of the new Stonehenge Visitor Centre. No more parking in the car park near Stonehenge and going through a dodgy underpass. Now you pay lots of money , er, we mean, get to go into a world class visitor centre and…

Visitors will be collected by Land Rovers drawing surprisingly elegant little carriages—English Heritage staff have been using them as quiet, comfortable meeting rooms to escape the building site—and taken to the stones.

The nice bit is:

The shuttles will stop halfway at a little wood – one of the myriad abandoned alternative sites for the centre – offering visitors the option of walking across fields to the monument, or continuing on to be dropped a short stroll from the stones. Although English Heritage cares for the monument, thousands of surrounding acres belong to the National Trust, and new signboards are being installed in the fields explaining the barrows, avenues and mounds which speckle the landscape.

a panorama at the Centre permits the experience of solstice sunrise all year long

a panorama at the Centre permits the experience of solstice sunrise all year long

But the Visitor Centre itself is packed with goodies, and an esteemed Friend of the Blog who went in and did reconnaissance for us, says that there are numerous Stonehenge models to be seen there (like the bronze one at the top of this post, with the solstice line marked on it plainly), as well as the panorama/virtual Stonehenge experience, seen above, that allows it to be solstice sunrise all day every day!

The gift shop offers Stonehenge models of various sizes: infant, toddler, child, and teen, from what we can see—the seeds of Stonehenge to be carried far and wide, where people will see them and—voilà!—want to make more Stonehenges! The contagion spreads, while also becoming more concentrated, ever more Stonehenges in the world What is the Stonehenge saturation point? Only time will tell.

And time is what the solstice is all about (see how we crudely and artlessly brought this post back to its subject? Oh, yes we did, uhuh, uhuh!). May your solstice (and whatever other holidays may be scattered in its general vicinity) be lovely and happy and fun and wonderful! Enjoy life while you can still walk around without stepping on Stonehenges. Mark our words: if things continue as they’ve been going, that may not last much longer!

And until next time, Gentle Friends, we wish you and yours happy henging!

A Quick List of Stonehenge Movies!!!

As winter solstice approaches, one thing and one thing only is on the mind of the modern henger: what movies should you play for our solstice movie marathon this year? One year you played every movie that had Sun in the title, but that was a mixed bag, and last year, well, one can only watch The Wicker Man so many times in a row. Someone suggested a Doctor Who marathon, but let’s face it: you know AND WE KNOW that you have been having Doctor Who marathons at least twice a week for the last month (and, frankly, he’s tired and out of breath. Hahahahaha! ha?). In fact, to be honest, we can actually see that you have Doctor Who playing in the background right now as you read this. Get a grip, srsly.

We offer this post to bring you a brilliant solution to your quandary. Here is a list, which we do not claim to be complete, of movies that have Stonehenge—or some Stonehenge-like substance—in them. We aren’t saying all of them (or, perhaps, any of them) are good movies, or that you’ll enjoy them, although you may enjoy each in its own way (except Stonehenge Apocalypse—no one does. Trust us.). All we’re saying is that at some point in each of these, Stonehenge rears its ugly head, at which point you either throw popcorn at the screen or yell “Score!” and take a strong shot of something.

Plus, you and your friends, should you have any, can do some Stonehenge analysis of your own. Which movie replicas are good? Which are lame? And which actually filmed AT Stonehenge. What’s that you say? Yes. Yes. We know. Doctor Who filmed at Stonehenge. Thank you for that.    Nerd.

STONEHENGE MOVIE LIST (replicas unless otherwise marked) no particular order

1This is Spinal Tap   (getting this one out of the way right away)

2The Black Knight —unintentionally hilarious Stonehenge sequence with dancing nymphs and murderous druids at Stonehenge

3. National Lampoon’s European Vacation —Chevy Chase represents all of America as he carelessly topples Stonehenge

4. The Mists of Avalon  —a scene at a Stonehenge-ish thing

5King Arthur  —he marries Keira Knightley there at the end. Beautiful. And the henge is nice, too. ;-)

6King Lear  —said to be filmed on a Stonehenge-like set

7Merlin: The Return  —it’s Merlin, so of course, Stonehenge has to come into it

8. Merlin of the Crystal Caves  —includes a young Merlin overseeing the erecting of the stones at Stonehenge

9Tess  —for this one, Roman Polanski built a whole Stonehenge in France. Realistic replica

10. The Colour of Magic  —movie of Pratchett’s book. A woman being sacrificed at Stonehenge is saved. Stonehenge as computer hardware

11Curse of the Demon  —devil cults, death curses, Stonehenge, REAL Stonehenge

12Shanghai Knights  —they crash into Stonehenge

13. Fiddlers Three, or While Nero Fiddled  —comedy: people sheltering under Stonehenge in a storm get transported back to Roman times. Hijinks ensue

14Stonehenge Apocalypse  —bad movie, BUT Stonehenge. Everyone say it’s terrible, but, sadly, not funny terrible

15The Pandorica Opens  —okay, yes, this is Doctor Who. REAL Stonehenge

16. Thor: The Dark World  —Thor, “dark elves”, Loki, Asgard, and of course, Stonehenge. REAL Stonehenge. Not out on DVD yet, though

Are there more movies with Stonehenges? Indubitably. Are we done here for now? Fo shizzle!

Fill the comments with your corrections and suggestions. We’re ready for you! Let us know how your solstice movie marathon goes!

And until next time, friends, happy henging!

P. S. : 17Halloween III. Have to mention it even though it doesn’t actually qualify, because Stonehenge-y-ness in plot.

[Our thanks to Aberfoyle, no, Abercrombie, no, what's ’is name—Aber4th? for telling us about Merlin of the Crystal Caves in the comments. Our thanks to Mr. Barry Teague for the tip about Fiddlers Three.]

Green Haven Circle: a Private Henge Accurate in One Brilliant Detail!

photo by Robin Goodfellow (yes), used with permission

photo by Robin Goodfellow (no, really!), used with permission

Not all of our decisions here at the Clonehenge blog are cut and dried. Some small private henges barely make the large permanent list. We admit, a few of the ones we’ve listed are, to be perfectly frank, iffy.

And now, dear readers, you will be thrilled to know that after much consultation and consideration, we have taken the solemn decision to build on that proud record! Toward that end, we present you with another somewhat dubious entry that we have nevertheless approved!

photo by Robin Goodfellow, used with permission

photo by Robin Goodfellow, used with permission

Sent in by one who identifies himself as Robin Goodfellow (an alias? Or is this actually Puck himself?), whose camera has the extraordinary ability to take oil paintings of its subjects, this newly built henge is not far from the much more angular and scientific replica at Rolla, Missouri.

Mr. Goodfellow (and yes, we have verified that gender by email) tells us:

The circle is in the back yard of a Southern facing house, but can be partially seen from the road or the half-moon driveway. It is made from a combination of Real and Constructed stones. I believe the constructed stones are made from ‘Hypertufa’, although I know that Lava Rock was used in the construction of the Southern Stone and that the Eastern and Western Trilithon Gates have Styrofoam cores under either Hypertufa or Concrete shells. Oh, and while my pictures do not show it well, the circle is around 30 foot in diameter, is surrounded by a 10 inch deep ditch about 12 inches across with a small embankment Inside the ditch and has a single break in the ditch which coincides with the Eastern Trilithon Gate.

A small embankment inside the ditch“. Let us consider this for a moment. What is a henge? The most accurate definition is, “a roughly circular or oval-shaped flat area enclosed and delimited by a boundary earthwork – usually a ditch with an external bank.” Interesting, right? BUT a question sometimes asked, in order to separate the Stonehenge cogniscenti wheat from the chaff, so to speak, “Why is Stonehenge not a henge?”, and the answer is: “Because its bank lies inside its ditch.

So, in short, this new entry has something right that almost everyone else gets wrong! This circle was built by Robin Goodfellow’s friend, Paul Holsombeck, also known as the Green Man (“Here to fill all of your Metaphysical needs“), on the property of his mother, Roseanne Cross-King, and we congratulate him! By this feature alone, his henge qualifies for our list of Large, Permanent Replicas, making it our 78th. (But surely not the last.)

Score: 8 druids! Outrageously high score!, you scream. Yet in its one brilliant detail, this circle transcends its small, private henge genre. Someone did his homework, or, possibly, stumbled accidentally into doing something right, as we all do from time to time. Our thanks to Robin, Paul and, of course, Roseanne!

We’re told this was built for the Friend’s little brother’s handfasting. It is our belief that having the embankment inside the ditch will enhance the effectiveness of the vows there taken. We wish the loving couple the best for decades to come!

Happy Thanksgiving to our USAnian readers! And, until next time, friends, happy henging!

HAPPY 5TH BIRTHDAY TO THE CLONEHENGE BLOG!!!

Cupcakehenges by Simon Burrow and Debora Oswald

Cupcakehenges by Simon Burrow and Debora Oswald

The day is here! A happy 5th birthday to us!

It’s astounding that this blog is still here and active after all these years. We’re not sure if the proliferation of Stonehenge replicas around the world is a sign of the creativity and spirit of humankind, or a sign of the decadent state of human society, but whichever it is, we celebrate that today!! From the academic and historical Stonehenge models to the spontaneous alcohol-inspired cheesehenges to the work-and-expense-intensive large permanent replicas, we are proud to be the chroniclers of this peculiar aspect of our species’ activities and efforts.

Carrothenge by Rian Edwards

Carrothenge by Rian Edwards

One thing for certain—Clonehenge would have been abandoned years ago were it not for its many friends and supporters, in particular people like Simon Burrow, Pete Glastonbury, Matt Penny, Bob Bradlee, and many more, who have alerted us to new henges, and given us encouragement when we were ready to quit or even delete the blog forever!

The pictures you see above are edible Stonehenge replicas made to celebrate this most glorious of days and the persistence of the Clonehenge blog through five revolutions of our planet around the sun. How wonderful that these people would use their own time to celebrate us in this way. Thanks to Simon Burrow, Debora Oswald, and Rian Edwards for these gifts! Our gratitude also to those friends, like Lynn Myra McElroy, who wished us a happy 5th birthday!

There are many many Stonehenge replicas yet to be blogged, and we solemnly promise that we will continue to not keep up.

Finally, all glory to the ancient original builders of Stonehenge, without whom this blog would probably be about pyramids or Easter Island heads! It just wouldn’t be as fun, and we would miss all of our favourite Wiltshire people! Which reminds us, are there any replicas of the new Stonehenge Visitor Centre out there? We would consider posting one.

We may add to this post as the day goes on, so we’ll end it for now. Please keep your eyes open for more Stonehenge replicas. We know they’re out there. And until next time, of course, happy henging!

(And here is our very first post, from five years ago today. With thanks to Mr. Jonas M. Wisser!)

Clonehenge Birthday Cakes: Give Us Them!

Stonehenge cake, from CakesWeBake.com

Stonehenge cake, from CakesWeBake.com

Attention hengers of all kinds: Clonehenge’s 5th birthday is coming up on the 20th of this month, and what better way to celebrate than with photos of Stonehenge cakes?

Examples of Stonehenge cakes

Examples of Stonehenge cake

Your challenge is to make a Stonehenge cake (or other dessert of your choice), and send us a photo (nancy (dot) wisser (at) gmail.com), or post it to our Facebook group or page, or address it to us on Twitter, @Clonehenge. These can be brilliant or lame. They don’t even have to be cakes. Any sweet goodie roughly Stonehenge-shaped will do.

Rice Krispie henge from Bay Area Bites

Rice Krispie henge from Bay Area Bites

We’ll love them regardless! We’ll post the pictures on Facebook, on Twitter, and on the Clonehenge blog itself, and then you get to eat your entry!

You make it, we post it, you eat it. Yum! Happy birthday to us.

Hengers, you may start your ovens!

England-themed Stonehenge cake

England-themed Stonehenge cake

Stonehenge cake by Iced-Moments

Stonehenge cake by Iced-Moments

Wiltshire Museum Models: Replicas for Learning (and for Tourists!)

Stonehenge model, photo by Pete Glastonbury, used with permission

Stonehenge model, photo by Pete Glastonbury, used with permission

One of the things that have become apparent in the last ALMOST FIVE YEARS that we have been posting on the Clonehenge blog is that there are many different categories of Stonehenge replicas—many reasons for making them, many sizes, many materials, many styles, many places where they are made and where they end up. Generally, each replica falls into several categories, for example: small, carrot, before-it-was-ruined, just-for-fun; large, metal, partial, sculpture/art, or full-sized, edible, citrus, trilithon, parade float (with druid).

There are several kinds of museums that may have Stonehenge replicas (large or small), as we have shown in posts over the years. A clock museum may depict Stonehenge as an early time piece. Astronomical museums often have replicas as examples of how even our distant ancestors were fascinated by the movement of the sun, stars. and planets. Archaeological and historical museums, of course, depict and talk about Stonehenge and the light it sheds on the lives and thoughts of early civilisations.

The Wiltshire Museum, in Devizes, Wiltshire, UK (formerly known as the Wiltshire Heritage Museum), falls more or less into the last category. We’ve shown you some of their Stonehenge and Avebury (and West Kennet Long Barrow and Marden Henge) models before, as well as their stunning and unique “Celtic” Cabinet, all courtesy of friend of the blog and fine photographer of ancient sites, Pete Glastonbury.

Avebury model, photo by Pete Glastonbury, used with permission

Avebury model, photo by Pete Glastonbury, used with permission

Well, HERE ARE MORE! More model, more label, more learning, more fun! The photo at the top is a labeled model of Stonehenge as it may have looked at its height, including station stones, the slaughter stone, and the ditch and bank that (almost) make Stonehenge officially a henge. (Technically it isn’t, quite, but you can look that up yourself.) We don’t know what the model is made of or who made it, but as you can see, this is a very good model.

The lower photo is of Avebury as it may have been at its height in the Bronze Age, with the South and North Circles, including the Cove, and beginnings of the avenues that lead to the Longstones at Beckhampton, and to West Kennet Long Barrow. Nice!

While things like the shapes of individual stones seem not to be addressed (do we even know what shapes the stones were thousands of years ago?), these are about as close as we get to definitive models. The anonymous model makers would probably be offended by our units of reward, but we nevertheless give these models a 7 druids score! Very good score, considering their size.

Models like this aren’t as whimsical or exciting as many of the others we’ve posted, but they are still Stonehenge replicas and our blog would be incomplete without them, and that, friends, cannot be allowed.

Our deep gratitude once again to Mr. Pete Glastonbury! Remember, as Christmas approaches and you need something unusual for your discerning family members and friends, Pete’s unique photographs of Stonehenge, Avebury, and Silbury Hill make great gifts! And if you’re truly interested in knowing more about Stonehenge and the surrounding ancient landscape, AND you have iBooks, you’ll enjoy the unusually broad spectrum of knowledge in his Stonehenge Guide. [Spoiler: he actually admits he knows us!]

We don’t make any money from those promotions, but when you buy something because we said so, it gives us a false feeling of power and importance. We need that gratification, people!

Thank you for reading, and until next time (when we have a new large permanent replica to share), happy henging!