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!

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!

A Gerald Hawkins Model, Long Before Spinal Tap!

Model built for Gerald Hawkins at Boston University

Model built for Gerald Hawkins at Boston University

First off, let us say:

If, before reading this, you already had an opinion about Stone Number 11 at Stonehenge, or even if you have just thought of arguments against someone else’s opinion on the subject, then even if we never get to meet you, you are one of our favourite people in the world! Clonehenge loves you and henceforth wants to make itself a better blog for you.

As part of that effort, today we offer you some Stonehenge model history.  For those who are not familiar with his name, Gerald Stanley Hawkins was a British archaeoastronomer best known for his 1963 (1965? sources differ) book, Stonehenge Decoded, in which he advanced the now well-known ideas about Stonehenge being a precise astronomical observatory. We won’t go on more about that, but if you’re curious, Google or Bing or DuckDuckGo can help you out!

Shot of the model showing stone shapes

Shot of the model showing stone shapes

Dr. Hawkins was chairman of the Department of Astronomy at Boston University in the States from 1957 to 1969, and during that time he had the above model built for him to use in teaching undergraduate university students and for use in documentary films and television shows. The model is now at Boston University and we show it here by the kind permission of Quinn Sykes, the very generous help of Vance Tiede, and of course, the inspiration and tireless work of Hengefinder General Extraordinaire Mr. Pete Glastonbury (Is that the brilliant Wiltshire photographer and author of the must-have Stonehenge Guide ebook, you ask? Yes, friend, none other than!) . Clonehenge thanks you, dear sirs!

It is clear that this is a brilliant model of a sort very rarely built any more. These days archaeoastronomers prefer computer models for their demonstrations of how light would shine on ancient sites and what stars were visible where at various times of year. But back then, something like this was the only option. The description, by Mr. Vance Tiede, is as follows:

The model appears made of plaster and each quadrant measures roughly a 24″ on a side or 16 feet square in total area. The detail is very good, even with individual post holes to the NW of the Heelstone. Stone 57* is missing, as the model was made before the hole for a Stone 57 was discovered. Stone 11 is two times too big and the lintels should be removed.

And there it is:  Stone 11. Stop everything! What is he talking about?

Well, Gentle Reader, we thought you would never ask! It turns out that there is a controversy about Stone 11. Mr. Tiede, when we asked him about it, answered:

“…the two lintels shown above Stone 11 should be removed, as Atkinson pointed out, Stone 11 is one-half the width and height of the other 29 uprights of the Sarsen Circle. The is a highly significant astro-architectural detail as the total number of uprights is literally 29.5 stones, i.e., one stone for every day of the Moon’s Synodic Period of 29.53 days. Similarly, Stonehenge’s 30 Y-Holes and 29 Z-Holes together represent the Double Month (later used in Athens, ca. 500 BC) of alternating 30 and 29 Days (and still used in the Jewish Liturgical Calendar) also producing an average of 29.5 days.

So there is a short stone in the outer circle, Stone Number Eleven, and Mr. Tiede thinks it never had lintels. Another opinion we have run across is that Stone 11 was short on purpose, as Mr. Tiede says, but that it still had lintels, and may even show the marks where they would have fit. Meanwhile, Sue Greaney, Senior Properties Historian with English Heritage, says that recent laser survey analysis suggests the stone is short because it is broken, and therefore may have been just as large as the others at the start.

Who’s to say? But it’s something to keep in mind when you make a replica. Find a chart showing where each numbered stone is at Stonehenge and make number 11 short if you want.

Before ending the post we should add  that there is reason to suspect that this model had another part. Another model we have seen Gerald Hawkins use on a television show had an alternate center circle in which the stones stood pretty much as they stand today, a ruined Stonehenge that could be switched in and back out again to show differences between how it looks now and how it may have looked in its heyday. This may have included something similar.

Score? Because of its historic association with Dr. Hawkins, and the detail such as good stone shapes, the Aubrey holes and outlier stones being included, we award this miniature Stonehenge 8 druids! Well done, indeed!

One more thing to consider. Someone recently told us that the outer sarsens were once uniform in size and shape, and only the wear of thousands of years has given each its idiosyncratic shape. To us it is hard to believe that the beautiful oddities of Stonehenge were not a part of it in its youth, but who knows? Many little mysteries: Stonehenge continues to guard its secrets.

And there is your Stonehenge history lesson for the day! There is a lot to learn about this little pile of stones. Until next time, friends, Happy Henging!!

*As to the comment about Stone 57, see the correction in the comment below, by Mr. Simon Banton, who knows Stonehenge well.

Brazilian White Quartzite Stonehenge on Live Moss, from Brazil: Small but Fine!

Sergio Greif, henge, and curious dogs

Sergio Greif, henge, and curious dogs

Olá! We greet you from Brasil, como Brasileiros! Yes, it is literally true that we are in Brazil, given the modern usage of the word literally! Poor word, it has a bad case of inflation. But—back to the henge! (Great titles for a book, there: Back to the Henge. You’re welcome.) The miniature Stonehenge in the picture above was sent to us by charming reader Sergio Greif of somewhere in Brazil. We have been meaning to post it since February, but, well, we didn’t, so now we are. (Is it just us, or do those dogs look like they are eager to celebrate the solstice?)

This is not our first henge from Brazil, not even our second. Very early on, we posted the beautiful mosaic fruit jelly henge:

fruit jelly stonehenge

And about a year and a half ago we posted our first South American permanent replica in São Paulo, Brazil at the Center for the Study of the Universe (!!). So Brazil appears to be a pretty happening place, hengewise.

Quartzite henge on moss

Quartzite henge on moss, another view, with fewer distractions ;-)

As some of you may know, we had two email apocalypses, and unfortunately the original email from Mr. Greif has been lost, but part of it was preserved on the Clonehenge Facebook group and read as follows:

Here is a Brazilian Stonehenge, made in white quartzite and natural live moss specifically at December 23, 2012. Hope you like it.

 all the best, Sergio Greif

As you can see, we don’t actually know much about this henge, the why of it, especially, but it is lovely, and we’re curious about the source of the quartzite. Did Mr. Greif somehow cut those pieces to size? Were they left over from some other project? The live moss is certainly a nice touch, bringing it close to falling into the miniature garden category that has become so popular.

Score? We give it 6 druids! That might seem a little high to some, but this thing has a charm about it, and we like the presentation, with the flower petals in one picture and such cuteness in the other (referring to the dogs, of course. Well, mostly… ) Thank you, sir. Some very nice henging going on in your country!

While we’re on the topic of smaller Stonehenge replicas, the Henge Collective is still hard at work, and posted a set of pictures depicting Fimohenge, a small henge of a kind of modeling clay. Eventually, we are told, this model will be the basis of an animated Henge Collective movie! The planet holds its breath in anticipation. In the future, all art will be henge art.

That is literally true!

Keep sending in your pictures, or posting them on the Clonehenge group or page on Facebook. You can even find us at @Clonehenge on Twitter. We haven’t made the move to App.net, but we will if people start switching over! We go where you go, to bring you the henges you need, when you need them!

Until next time, friends, happy henging!

Stonehenge Replica on Mars!!! (not really, but who could resist that title?)

#PewPew!

That is how the fateful tweet from @MarsCuriosity started. It continued:  See the tiny cluster of rocks, aka “Stonehenge,” I’ve been investigating with my laser.

And here at Clonehenge headquarters, the whole office said in chorus, “Say what?!” Everyone went for the View Media button at once to see the video (above), and watched fascinated as the brilliant and lovely Nina Lanza gave her talk (transcribed here). We saw the tiny stone and the weathering under it that made it look as if it were set on little uprights, like a tiny row of sarsens topped with lintels, ON MARS!!!* And we heard how the Curiosity Rover zapped it with its lasers nine times.

We were laughing and exchanging looks of bemused joy when, well, as they say, s#!* got real. Miss Lanza went on to say, In addition to composition, we’ve also been able to make a three-dimensional model of the surface of this target using images from the Remote Micro-Imager part of ChemCam. (see model below)

Yes, we know this is just a computer model. As far as we know, they didn’t do a three dimensional print of it. Yet… As far as we know…

Mars Stonehenge–one inch long

So, I guess we all know what this means. No? Not All? What about Giorgio Tsoukalos? We think he’d know what to say. Yes, that’s right, gentle readers, apparently Mars people must be very very small! And we just zapped their pagan ritual site! We believe they are planning their revenge.

But here at Clonehenge, we say, “What? Us worry?” We’re too thrilled to see Stonehenge, however dubious the connection, and a model of it, mentioned in connection with space! We still hope someday to learn of a Stonehenge replica being made on the International Space Station, but until then, this is making us pretty darned happy! Thank you, Curiosity Rover! Thank you, Nina Lanza! Thank you, other NASA dudes and dudettes!

And until next time, we wish all of you, including the NASA computers, happy henging!!

*Try adding that to every fortune cookie you open!

Solstice Again, Innit? Part the First!

wooden model made in preparation for the famous Icehenge in Alaska

When you are somewhat lazy-arsed, as we are, it helps a great deal to have friends who are not similarly handicapped. We have a number of friends who keep an eye to the news and alert us when they find new Stonehenge replicas, old ones, too, if there is a chance we haven’t seen them. Today, in honour of the summer solstice, 2012, one half year, a mere six months, until nothing happens and everyone is deeply shocked to find the world hasn’t ended after all and they are going to have to find a way to pay for all that stuff they put on their credit cards, [drumroll] we are going to award two of our alert friends and readers with the title of Hengefinder General, Extraordinaire. In this post we fete the wonderful ancient sites photographer, Mr. Peter Glastonbury of Wiltshire. No one has brought more henges to our attention or contributed more to the Clonehenge blog than this fine fellow, and we hereby thank and salute him!

The replica above is an example of the brilliant henges we have had from Hengefinder Glastonbury. It is a photo of a painted wooden model made for the crew that created the beautiful Stonehenge replica made of ice in Fairbanks, Alaska some years ago. In a message passed along to us, Martin Gutoski says of it, “A local artist made a wooden model of it at the architect scale of ¼” = 1’ for the ice carvers to use but it recently burned up with his house fire last spring.” Truly it was a thing of beauty!

Page of the June 22, 1898 issue of The Sketch

The item above is another of his recent contributions: two historical small replicas in an article entitled The Strange Story of Stonehenge, dating from the 1890s! We surmise that the top one, a replica of Stonehenge in recent times, may be one of Henry Browne’s cork models. The other, of a “completed” Stonehenge, appear to be made of wood and may be one that was on display at the British Museum or perhaps the Ashmolean. See–knowledge of Stonehenge replicas can be a scholarly pursuit! If you’re not careful. Which we are. So you needn’t worry! An interesting bit of this article is where the author mentions the theory that a sacred oak once grew in the very middle of Stonehenge. We hadn’t heard that one before.

Article from The Graphic, September 2, 1922

Hengefinder Extraordinaire Glastonbury also sent us this article with pictures of a Stonehenge model made by the author, H. N-Hutchison,  which is entitled What Stonehenge Probably Looked Like when Complete. Our favourite part of this one is near the end: “For reasons which need not be given here, the writer has ventured to put a small trilithon at the entrance, and two rather larger ones, one at each end of the horseshoe, to make it complete. … This arrangement seems to giove a finish to Stonehenge...” In other words, the fellow has added parts to Stonehenge that he thinks would make it better! We have mentioned before, but so long ago at this point that probably any of you weren’t even born yet, that even those who profess to be the greatest admirers of Stonehenge cannot seem to resist making little improvements in their reproductions of it. It is as if you took a picture of the Mona Lisa and then thought, She could be prettier, couldn’t she? and changed her features to look more like Charlize Theron.

Anyway, Hutchison says that the model in the pictures is of plasticene, but he made another of wood and donated it to the British Museum. And, no, it is not the same one that’s at the bottom of the other article. Small differences are evident to the seasoned eye of the Stonehenge replica expert, that is to say, ourselves.

The article ends, “I should like to see a full-sized reconstruction of Stonehenge made in concrete and set up somewhere close to Salisbury to show visitors what this wonderful monument was like in prehistoric times; and I am sure such a model would attract visitors to the ancient town.” Obviously, we’re all for that!! (And, yes, we know that not everyone believes that Stonehenge was ever finished. We are not interested in having that discussion here.)

So thank you to Mr. Glastonbury for his help with Clonehenge through the years. At least one time we were ready to quit the blog but kept going because he kept sending us replicas to post. He told us just today that he knows of a top secret Stonehenge replica project to be implemented some time in August, and he will bring us the news as it happens. More fun to come!

Happy summer solstice, everyone! And of course, happy henging!

Bandage Henge 2.0: Anatomically Correct Medi-lithic Site!

photo and henging by Kirsten Shield

Back on January 27, we received the photo on the left with this explanation: “G’day [Clonehenge], After a particularly stressful day in the Burns Unit I was restocking bandages when the different sizes reminded me of the uprights with the lintels. Next thing I knew I had a Henge on my hands!” Of course she was being metaphorical (mediphorical?). It wasn’t on her hands, but was, as we can see, in the Clean Area.

If we had received that henge photo two days earlier, even as elementary as it was we might nonetheless have posted it immediately as it seemed like the perfect thing for Burns Night. Alas, it was not to be! By the time we received it, it was too late for us to delight in yet another dreadful pun for the blog.

The letter, however, also contained this glint of hope: “I plan to do a proper and anatomically correct Bandage Henge in the near future. ” and it was signed, Kirsten, Brisbane Australia. Well, we have now received Kirstenhenge 2.0 and we have to say that it is the nicest bandage henge anyone ever sent to us.

Interestingly, Kirsten confesses that instead of Stonehenge itself or a plan of it, she used as a model for her bandage henge Brock Davis’s brilliant rice krispy henge (or rice krispyhenge) that we posted for New Year’s and that was since featured on National Public Radio in the States. We love when Stonehenge replicas make the news!

The result is admirable, as you can see in the top picture and the one to the left. No, the inner trilithon horse shoe does not quite open to the three-lintel sequence in the outer circle, but, hey–she was working from a photo of a tiny inaccurate model. Other than that it is quite well done.

What concerns us slightly is the doors in the background. In what room did she set out her carefully crafted henge? We have an image of a coma patient spread out on a bed behind her as she takes the photograph. Anything for art, and especially henging!

Score: 7 druids! It is clear that this was a labour of love. LOVE! that is the word of the day. Happy Valentine’s Day to all, with or without a real lover. We all know you singles have your dreams and fantasies. You may be doing as well or better than many who face the challenge of the real thing (our own partner, for example, has us to put up with…).

You know what your Valentine wants: a Stonehenge replica, of course! Make it from biscuits or chocolate candies. Hide that ring and its glittering rock among the stones. There are few things more romantic and at the same time subliminally sexual than that shaft of light streaming in between a pair of uprights! If you make one, send us pictures. Of the henge only, please. There are plenty of sites for those other photos.

And so to all, happy henging!