More Old Film: Model of an Avebury Stone

photos and film link sent us by Pete Glastonbury, used with permission

Apparently posting about Stonehenge replicas is, well, just not obscure and geeky enough for us. Otherwise why would we be so delighted to bring you this odd trifle–a film from 1955, narrated by well-known British writer and television personality John Betjeman, that includes, for a few seconds, the above model showing how the  stones of the Avebury monument may have been erected? [for those who don’t know about Avebury, see here.]

We’ve posted some other Avebury models. That all started because someone mentioned and we concurred that Avebury is so much larger and impressive than Stonehenge yet there didn’t appear to be any Avebury replicas. Friend of the blog and well-known ancient sites photographer Pete Glastonbury proceeded to come up with not one but several small Avebury models and we couldn’t resist posting them.

This is very much the same story, except this time the only record we have of the model is this film, from about 2:08 to 2:18, minutes and seconds in. Then it goes on to the beakers of the Beaker Culture who are thought to have built Avebury and much of Stonehenge. That, like the rest of the film, is worth a look, of course, but our focus is on those ten seconds showing the model from the museum in Avebury (no doubt the one we know as the Alexander Keiller Museum–we’ve posted models from them before).

Among the things we enjoyed in the film are the certainty about the purpose of Avebury–burial, and about how the stones were erected–with poles and rawhide ropes.  We’re accustomed to much more speculation about these things now. And then there’s this sentence “What makes Avebury so strange is its sinister atmosphere.” Not everyone would agree about that, judging from accounts we’ve heard and from our own visit. Sinister is not a word we would use for the broad sunny expanse we encountered those many years ago!

First broadcast on 23 September 1955, this was the first of twenty six in the series Discovering Britain. We’re not sure whether the others are available. No score for this little stone model. It’s just to enjoy.

We’re starting to think we like this film theme and may just keep it up, on and off for a while as the Academy Awards ceremony approaches. A surprising number of films, better known than this one, featured Stonehenge or its likeness, and since most could not film at the real thing, replicas were made. Try to think of a few more films with Stonehenge-ish things in them, and see if we come up with the same list.

Until we meet again, Happy henging!

[Note: we’re told, by @Avebury_News on Twitter, that this model is still in the stables museum.]

Share

More Avebury–And We Thought There Were None!

AveburyModelWHM2 3

photos by Pete Glastonbury, with permission

Hello again from the amazing Wiltshire Heritage Museum in Devizes. Of course we’re not actually there, but we have a rich fantasy life! Today, thanks to our regular supplier of Afghani-grade Avebury photos, we have two Avebury models to post. Avebury is a very large stone circle in Wiltshire England. We hope you already knew that.

The model above is to be applauded for accuracy and detail. It shows the circle as it might have been in its heyday, with circles and avenues leading from the circle complete. Very nice. We would like it better without the labels, but we understand that in a museum, the point is to communicate knowledge and the labels serve that purpose.  8 druids for this one.

AveburyModelWHM 3And then there’s this one, depicting, as it might have been at its height, the entire Avebury region, or nearly so, as it excludes Windmill Hill and, of course, all the ancient crop circles. It includes various barrows, the serpentine avenues (which we discussed here), Silbury Hill, West Kennet Long Barrow, and if you look closely enough there may be a tiny model of Pete Glastonbury walking around taking pictures (or if there isn’t perhaps there should be). This, too, is an extraordinary piece of work, and we award it 8½ druids. We like to see the whole landscape represented!

The Wiltshire Heritage Museum is said to house numerous models of Stonehenge seen nowhere else, the amazing Celtic Cabinet, and, for now, Clonehenge’s favourite exhibition, Inspired by Stonehenge, which includes “a variety of objects, graphics, music and moving images including postcards and guidebooks, clothing, paperweights and snow globes, jigsaw puzzles, horse brasses, toasting forks and even a stamp from the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan that shows Disney characters Mickey Mouse and Pluto at Stonehenge. There is also a quantity of souvenir china – some more attractive than others. Once visitors have viewed the exhibition they can vote for the item they consider to be in the worst possible taste!” Bold emphasis added by us. People, does it get any better than that?!

Hours and admission fees for the museum can be seen here. Oh, and the site says “Youngsters are encouraged to be ‘Inspired by Stonehenge’, and are invited to send in photographs of their own Stonehenge models for display in the Museum over the summer.” We plan to lean on the museum a little in autumn, to get them to let us post the best–and perhaps the worst–ones they get. And you haven’t seen the last of Wiltshire Heritage Museum on this blog. More in a few days!

Avebury and Silbury and the Long Barrow, too

avebury0002

photo from Pete Glastonbury, with permission

Sent in by faithful reader and premier Wiltshire photographer, Pete Glastonbury, this model of the Avebury, Silbury landscape  was made by a local as part of his train set.

We get the question from time to time, “Why replicas of Stonehenge and not Avebury, which is bigger?” Well, this is part of what started us off with this project in the first place. Why is Stonehenge such an obsession with people (at least those who don’t speak Latin-based languages)? Why not replicas of Callanish, the Rollright Stones, Castlerigg, Duloe, Drombeg, Stenness, or any of the many others in the British Isles and around the world? It must be those lintels and trilithons!

At any rate, here is that rare item, the Avebury replica,  Silbury Hill included, their  chalk still white as it must have been before turf grew over them. The little chunk of summat on the lower right is West Kennet Long Barrow. A brilliant bit of work, we think.

Speaking of train sets, a train set at a show in Kemptville, Ontario included a precariously perched bit of Stonehenge, not worthy of a post to itself, but worth mentioning and  [link]ing to. How many Stonehenges are out there gathering dust as small trains roar by?

Thinking of Avebury Replicas

aveburytable

Table once owned by Roger Bolton, photo by Pete Glastonbury– a model of Avebury as it is thought to have looked at its height

Time out from our mission here to look at Avebury replicas. There aren’t many, but they do exist. We have made a point so far of avoiding lintel-less stone circles unless there is something else special and Stonehenge-like about them. There are probably as many modern stone circles as there are Stonehenge replicas, and we had to draw the line somewhere.

Avebury, however, is a special case for several reasons, including physical closeness and probable other connections to Stonehenge as well as the  fact that at 427 meters in diameter it is the largest stone circle in the world.  Yet few replicas exist.

avebury-google-earth[Avebury on Google Earth] Although a great many of its stones are now missing, Avebury is one of the wonders of the British countryside and likely part of a ritual complex that included a megalithic avenue leading to it, Silbury Hill, the West Kennet Long Barrow, and other less well known but fascinating features. It, too, is a henge and roughly contemporary with Stonehenge, which is nearby, although Avebury’s stones probably went up first.

avebury-cots21[One of 2 Avebury models from the DVD The Children of the Stones] Somehow Avebury never acquired the cache Stonehenge has. Yet a few small replicas do exist, and this evening we present two, courtesy of Mr. P. Glastonbury, megarak and photographer extraordinaire. We won’t score them. To see more photos of Avebury itself and some high dynamic range panoramas of it and other places, visit Pete Glastonbury’s site. I suppose next we’ll have people making mounds of dirt and sending us pictures of Silbury Hill replicas. Even the aliens who make crop circles agree–there’s something about Wiltshire!

Share