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.

West Kennet Long Barrow

WKLB 2photo by Pete Glastonbury, with permission

In keeping with our twin missions of fun and information, we interrupt our regular programming for a public service announcement. WKLB stands for West Kennet Long Barrow. A barrow is “a large mound of earth or stones over the remains of the dead” according to Miriam Webster. And a long barrow is–long. This one is a chambered barrow, meaning there were chambers within it back when it was built about 5500 years ago (well before Stonehenge, we should note). They left bones there.

WKLB is part of the Avebury/Silbury landscape and Silbury Hill is visible from here. No one is sure why Wiltshire was blessed with such a constellation of sites. Not fair–they get most of the crop circles, too! Maybe it’s just a place for people with a  great deal of time on their hands. Mr. Terry Pratchett lives there and look at all the books he’s had time to write! Wait–that’s it! Time is different in Wiltshire. An hour there is like three of our hours, so people get more done. We need to move there!

Apparently this also gives people time to make models like those we’ve shown before and the one you see above. This is a cut-away. A photo of the barrow from above can be seen here. Atmospheric photos of the impressive megalithic façade can be seen here and here. The white in the model is the chalk that makes up the landscape of the Wiltshire downs. The mound as it appears now is a rebuild by Stuart Piggott. Before that, it looked like this:

WestKennet

This model can be seen in the Wiltshire Heritage Museum in Devizes. And, no, we don’t get a kickback from them or from Pete Glastonbury. We just like them. We are not above taking kickbacks if they’re offered, but they would have to be from someone who actually had something to kick back with.

No score for this model–it’s not a henge by any definition. But a word about WKLB–we’ve been there. It is awesome–the old meaning of awesome, the kind that stirs your soul and just may slow down time.

[Guest score from Pete G. : 8 archaeologists]

More Avebury–And We Thought There Were None!

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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, Silbury, and West Kennet Long Barrow

akmmodel-2

from the Alexander Keiller Museum, by Pete Glastonbury, with permission

Another model of the Avebury landscape has been sent us by faithful reader and ace photographer Pete Glastonbury. This one is of molded stone and shows the landscape as it is now but without houses, cars, etc.

We miss the stones on this one, but the large scale that made them difficult to include also made it possible to include Windmill Hill, almost certainly an important part of whatever was being done on that landscape in the times of the builders.

Avebury is in the middle, the mound below it is Silbury and the cigar-shaped thing toward the bottom in the center is West Kennet Long Barrow. Score: 6 druids. Oh, to be in Wiltshire now that Spring is here!

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?