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.]

The Henge on a Hill off Longhollow Road: It’s a Mystery!

Photo of the Longhollow Road replica, by Karl J Mohr, used with permission

Photo of the Longhollow Road replica, by Karl J Mohr, used with permission

Happy October and welcome! When we last left the state of Illinois (almost five years ago!), it was boasting a single, rather idiosyncratic Stonehenge replica not far outside Chicago at a paragliding and flight field. That one has since gone to new owners and for all we know may no longer be there.

Illinois was chugging along with that large replica and one or two smaller museum replicas, and then in late winter or early spring of this year we heard from a fellow named Chad Delhotal, who said,

There is a fairly large stone replica of Stonehenge on a road (could be Longhollow Rd) just north of Rt 20 between the towns of Galena and Elizabeth in northwestern Illinois. No mention of this anywhere, but it’s there.

He sent us a link to a site that included this photo, and then managed to get us the coordinates so we could find it on Google Maps. We sat back and stared. It is rare for us to hear about a full-sized United States replica that is in plain site these days. We thought we had them all, dammit!

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Megalithic thingie in Galena Illinois

It was suspicious. When a new Stonehenge replica shows up, there is invariably an article about it in the local or regional newspaper. It’s the kind of wacky thing papers love to put in the lifestyle section, and usually henge builders like to show their henges off. There was nothing at all online about this, although there seems to be some other megalithic structure/thingie in the car park of the Irish Cottage Boutique Hotel in nearby Galena, Illinois.

We added the new henge to our List of Large Permanent Replicas and sat back, hoping for more information to roll in. Surely the Clonehenge Faithful (an imaginary fan club we talk to a lot when no one’s around) would get us more information! Right? Months went by and nothing,. Nothing, we tell you! A maddening silence of epic proportions. Dammit, humanity, you had ONE job!

Then six months later we received this email from a Karl Mohr (surely a pseudonym or maybe an acronym—let’s see…Keeping A Replica Lost…, well, maybe not.). The email said,

I was at a scenic overlook area near Elizabeth, IL and saw a Stonehenge type of structure about 2 miles in the distance (It was barely visible to the naked eye – I caught it thru my 300mm zoom lens). I decided to drive there and snap a few shots from the road. I’d be willing to share them if you’re interested.

Aerial view from Google Maps

Aerial view from Google Maps

We were interested, and one of his brilliant photos is at the top of his post, another below. BUT the mystery remains. We have scoured maps and done searches, but we can’t even find the names of the people who live in the house closest to the replica, surely the first suspects we would like to interrogate. We don’t know when this henge was built, who built it, why it was built, or what it’s made of.

We can see from the aerial view that it consists of the sarsen ring and an inner trilithon horseshoe. It appears to be large, if not full-sized, and fairly new but not brand new, judging from the lack of a visible road by which the stones may have been hauled there.

Of course, the stones could have been lowered by alien space ships, but our doctor tells us not to think about things like that these days!

Someone has gone to the trouble of planning and building this Stonehenge replica in rural Illinois without seeking the spotlight, without any major news outlets picking it up, and without advertising. Why? Questions abound, my friends! But we have, alas, no answers, the definition of a mystery.

As for a score, hard to say, but it looks very nice. We award it a tentative 7 druids! For size and looks, mostly, and a little extra for the whole mystery going on.

If any of you live or visit nearby, please ask around for us and find out what the locals know! Why would you build a huge Stonehenge replica and not tell anyone about it? The force of the Stonehenge-building urge never fails to amaze.

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Photo by Karl Mohr, used with permission

Keep reporting those replicas, large and small. And 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!

Festival Henges, 2012! Part Two: Yet Another Burning Man Henge!

BASShenge at the Burning Man Festival, 2012

Way back in January (remember January?) we did a post about some people who were collecting money in order to build a Stonehenge replica at Burning Man: not just any Stonehenge replica, but one made of bass speakers, making it rather reminiscent of the Solhenge made of speakers at the 2004 Burning Man Festival. Well, here it is!

The proportions, height to width, are not bad. It looks as if they chose to reproduce only the center trilithon horseshoe of Stonehenge, changing the trilithons at either end of the horseshoe to monoliths. A sequence of pictures including the building of the henge can be seen here.

Score? 6 druids for these guys! This took some planning and team work, and looks enough like Stonehenge to pass, and we are told that they did align it to the sun and moon, although we have no details on that.

Some research suggests that music may have been among the uses for the real Stonehenge in its heyday. We like potential links to the builders and ancient visitors to Stonehenge. It is possible that a number of things that go on at Burning Man might have been recognisable to pilgrims and celebrant on Salisbury Plain thousands of years ago! Well done, Burners!

Now to the bigger question. Why does Burning Man generate so many Stonehenge replicas? Why, in fact, do festivals in general breed Stonehenge replicas at a fair rate? We are reminded not only of the many Burning Man replicas (mentioned here and here in a list that is probably not comprehensive), but also replicas including the one at the Audio Soup Festival, one at the Elf Fantasy Fair in 2008, and one at Ireland’s Oxegen Music Festival in 2009. It seems that the Mutoid Waste Company has set up a few henges at festivals, there are Hugh Jart’s Dubhenge and Banksy’s Privy Henge, both of which showed up at the Glastonbury Festival on, different years, and of course the wonderful Citrus-Henge at the lemon festival in the Riviera one year!

If we were to pursue the idea (which we in fact just made up) that the original uses of Stonehenge itself are the most likely situations to generate replicas now, then festivals obviously should be generating these henges, since evidence of gathering and feasting has been found in excavations near Stonehenge. One must beware, however, of reversing that idea to suggest that things that now generate replicas must be original uses for Stonehenge, unless one is prepared to assert that crazy golf was common in the Neolithic. Before we would assert that we would have to have an awful lot of that stuff that gets passed around at Burning Man!*

Music, festive gatherings, feasting, observing the heavens, time measurement, healing, intoxication, mysticism, and sport, all of these ancient pursuits and more have connections to modern Stonehenge replicas. When people build these things, maybe they are getting in touch with their ancestors even as they laugh and joke about it, getting in touch with those things that, despite huge changes, have remained the same.

Something to think about, or drink to! Until next time, friends, happy henging!

*Or maybe just a lot of mead. Recently someone suggested to us that Stonehenge was a huge tavern. The alcohol connection, which we have pointed out in the past.

For Mirek, Clonehenge Wishes You a Belated Happy Birthday!

photo sent to us by Agata and Max

Happy birthday to Mirek! And our thanks to the people at the Institute of Archaeology, University of Wroclaw, Poland. This evening we received an email that reads:

Dear Clonehenge, 

Greetings from Institute of Archaeology, University of Wroclaw, Poland.

Our friend Mirek, archaeologist, have a birthday today so we made this b-day card for him. We wish him all the best!

 This card is very personalized, cause Mirek is a great fan of neolithic, megaliths, aerial photography and of course Clonehenge and Ylvis song.

 Oh! This card is hiding a rebus. First letters of ‘Stonehenge’ word, with the part of ‘latawiec’ (‘kite’ in polish) gives ‘sto lat’* which means ’100 years’, sentence used as ‘happy birthday!’.

 Many thanks,  Agata & Max

It included the picture above and another with one person flying what appears to be a box kite while three others watch.

So let’s have a look at this paper Stonehenge model. It is elementary, of course, not much detail, and yet, look at the shapes of the stones–much closer to the real Stonehenge sarsen shapes than in your average paper cut-out. And they even included some fallen stones cleverly by showing lumps by the side of the big stones. For what it is, this is well and thoughtfully done. Plus there is the rebus. The card depicts Stonehenge and a kite, which in Polish is latawiec, so the otherwise inexplicable little post-it at the top left means to strike out all of the letters of Stonehenge except STO and all of the letters of latawiec except LAT, yielding, as the email says, Sto lat!, a traditional birthday greeting. Brilliant!

You have to wonder why smart people like that aren’t running Clonehenge instead of us!

We are honoured to know that there are Clonehenge fans in Poland, and honoured to be thought of and included in the celebration in this way. Agata and Max, you made our day, as we say here. Mirek (he is the one flying the kite), we wish you many happy returns!

And to all of our readers, happy henging!

*Discworld fans can discuss this revelation about sto lat at a later time!

We Now Have a Theme Song!

This is so great we can’t express it in words. Watch it and weep! “What’s the deal with the Stonehenge?” Oh, almost forgot–not safe for kids.

Who cares if they got a detail or two wrong? They even include the snow globe. That’s class.

We now return you to our regularly scheduled lack of posting!

Most Accurate Digital Model Ever: Now There’s No Good Excuse!

photo by English Heritage, but found here

A brief much more sensible post. We know last week’s was less than optimal. We will try to be less silly today.

Won’t be too difficult because we have only a simple news item to report from the English Heritage website: “A detailed survey of every stone that makes up Stonehenge using the latest technology, including a new scanner on loan from Z+F UK that has never before been used on a heritage project in this country, has resulted in the most accurate digital model ever produced of the world famous monument.” There is also a video that we wanted to imbed here but couldn’t, a preview of the scan results.

The news item goes on: “With resolution level as high as 0.5mm in many areas, every nook and cranny of the stones’ surfaces is revealed with utmost clarity, including the lichens, Bronze Age carvings, erosion patterns and Victorian graffiti.

This project is significant for us, of course, because there is now a super-accurate model of Stonehenge for people to use when creating their own replicas and for us to use for comparison when judging replicas. Of course we wonder things, like–did they just scan the stones or did the scan the ground, too, so that everything is place in exactly the right place and at exactly the right angle? No mention of that here. Maybe later.

The last paragraph of the page at that link (which we are sure you clicked on!) implies that some of the information may be used to make a replica for the future visitor center. When that happens,we will be sending out a plea to our minions for pictures of that replica to post here.

But for now we just wanted to keep you informed of the latest news in Stonehenge models and replicas. Thank you for visiting.

To tell you the truth, we never suspected when at the age of 19 we hauled those stones out there and tipped them up under cover of night, how interested, even obsessed with them people would eventually become. We thought for a while we might one day come out and admit the hoax, but with the tourism and giving jobs to archaeologists, who, it must be admitted, need something to do, the whole idea of “ancient” Stonehenge has taken on a life of its own. We may never publicly admit that it was just a lark we pulled after a friend bragged of building Glastonbury Tor and placing that cheap folly on top.

Oops! Getting off on a tangent again. We don’t want to go blathering on about the past like an old person. Can’t imagine anyone being interested. Cheers, and, until next time, happy henging!

West Kennet Long Barrow Carved from Silver Birch

photos by Les Williams, used with permission

Way back in March we posted a wooden model of the long barrow at Wayland, often called Wayland or Wayland’s Smithy.  The artist, Les Williams, told us he planned to do West Kennet [sometimes spelled Kennett] Long Barrow, a site we’ve mentioned here many times,which is located in Wiltshire very close to Silbury Hill, not far from Avebury, and not too terribly far from Stonehenge. [See comments below for the answer to the Kennett/Kennet confusion.]

Now he has finished carving it and we are honoured to receive first-posting rights for his admirable accomplishment! Mr. Williams’ opinion is that West Kennet Long Barrow (WKLB) is the most atmospheric of the ancient henges and barrows of southern Britain and Wales, and he seems to have captured some of that in this careful rendition.

Curiously he has not chosen to put a finish on this one as he did on the first, perhaps to retain more of the rough-hewn look of the giant stones at the barrow itself.  Also, in order to make the stones large enough he has included only the front end of the long barrow, leaving the rest to the imagination.

But we don’t blame him. The choice he had to make was whether to A. make the stones tiny so he could include the whole barrow, B. use a huge piece of wood, most of which would be featureless barrow anyway, or C. what you see here. Good choice. We can tell you from personal experience that what is most riveting about WKLB is the row of megaliths at its entrance. Not that the interior isn’t  awesome. Amazing place!

And Silbury Hill is visible from there. They and Avebury’s henge and stones, plus several lesser known sites are all part of a mysterious, ancient, and probably sacred landscape. Stonehenge has a unique standing in people’s minds–a curious must-see for tourists who look at it for a bit and then go off to see other English things–but the truly wonderful and remarkable thing in Wiltshire is not that grey linteled circle, or any one of the many remnants of what was done to the landscape all those millennia ago. No, it is the constellation of all of them, the magnificent puzzle they create and the questions they pose, laid out on the hills and down for all to see.

What is that you say? Oh, right–Les Williams and his carving. Heh, I’m afraid we get carried away. Well done–the stones are the right shapes and in the right order. Is anyone else doing anything like this? It is a unique and remarkable creation, somehow holding more mystique than a Stonehenge replica would.

No druids will be awarded, since it is not a Stonehenge replica, just the appreciation of the megarak* nation, and the breathtaking fame and riches that result from being featured on Clonehenge. Don’t let it turn your head, Les!

Did we somehow miss slipping the word eccentric in there? Well, anyway, for those to whom it currently applies, keep cool and to everyone–happy henging!

*A combination of the words megalith and anorak. One who is very interested in megaliths, standing stones, prehistoric stone circles, etc.