Ohio’s Earthworks and Stonehenge for a Day

ohio

Miller Elementary in Ohio, creating ‘Cardboard Stonehenge’ © Ray Picton 2006

It’s a big week for the Newark Earthworks Center in Newark, Ohio. A pilgrimage (Walk with the Ancients) is taking place along a long-lost 60 mile road that runs straight as an arrow across the Ohio landscape, to end at the Newark Earthworks, the largest geometric earthworks complex in the world, with a day of celebration. We’re so glad to see this amazing site and its native builders getting notice. We lived there for a short time 20 years ago and couldn’t believe it wasn’t internationally famous. Maybe its time has come.

Newark_map

(our own photo–please ask permission) This is a partial map of the original earthworks at Newark, Ohio. The Great Circle is in the center at the top.

So how can that tie in with Stonehenge replicas? It’s more likely than you think! And that is because of one Ray Picton, whose Newark/Stonehenge story can be seen here. He wound up in a Fulbright teacher exchange that took him from Salisbury, England to Newark Ohio. Inspired by Stonehenge and the amazing site at Newark, he and his exchange teacher had their primary school classes do comparative studies of the sites. And of course for the classes in Ohio this inevitably meant Stonehenge replicas.

Apparently many were made, but we could only find photos of this unique effort in which students went out o the lawn with large pieces of cardboard and created a Stonehenge replica formation. (Why couldn’t we have done things like this when we were in school?!!!?) Needless to say we love Mr. Picton’s picture at the top. What a great effort!

The Ohio students became more aware of the significance of the site in their own community. Meanwhile children in Salisbury, too, were learning about the amazing earthworks at Newark as well as their own great monument.

Having been at Stonehenge and Avebury and Newark, we can tell you that there is a striking simlarity especially between Avebury and one part of the Newark complex called the Great Circle. In fact the Great Circle qualifies as a henge in the strict sense, which involves ditches and banks rather than stones. It’s not as large as Avebury, of course, but it is a sizable circle with a mound in the middle, presumably for ceremony. When we lived there, native wildflowers bloomed on the grounds within the circle in  spring.

We heartily applaud Mr. Picton’s successful efforts “to embed the comparative study of the two sites into the curriculum at both schools.” This shows what a difference one person can make. And we cannot leave the topic of the Newark Earthworks without mentioning Dr. Brad Lepper who has been involved at Newark since we lived there and heard him speak many years ago.  It is largely by his work that the road of pilgrimage being walked this week was discovered.

Score? Are you kidding? We award the rare 9 druids to this living Stonehenge made of cardboard and children. We know that in recent news people have been complaining that some awards are given undeservedly, but we think that work that gives hope and paints a better future for our children deserves the highest rewards of all!

P.S.: Newark Earthworks Day is this Saturday, October 17, 2009. If you can be there, we highly recommend it!

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Gingerbreadhenge: An October Classic

gingerbread 2henge and photo by The Dude, with permission

Cold weather is arriving here in Clonehenge Land. We may have our first frost tonight, and may have to run the furnace for the first time when we get up in the morning. And as the cold nights and chilly mornings roll in, thoughts run to warming comfort foods like gingerbread. Not the cookie kind, mind you, but the nice spicy cake kind, served warm with homemade whipped cream and maybe a cup of cocoa or Irish coffee for those so inclined.

What’s that? We’re wandering off the subject of Stonehenge replicas? Sorry, we were carried away by cozy reminiscing! Gingerbread is not an unheard-of henge material (what is?). Other gingerbreadhenges do exist, but most are the cookie kind. This appears to be a nice straightforward cake type. We think it took a little work.

It’s just the sarsens, rather too many, with a circle instead of a horseshoe of taller trilithons in the center. Still, a nice one as foodhenges go. Something like this could be decorated with some leaves and berries for a holiday centerpiece this Christmas. Keep it in mind and send us a photo!

Score: 6½ druids. Thus do we welcome the colder days!

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Henge Shui: A Garden Henge in Red Oak, Texas

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photos and henge by Thomas, and Power Feng Shui, with permission

Building a large trilithon of stone is no easy task. The stones  have to be much larger than the portion visible above ground, and stone weighs a lot. We bring this up in order to underline the respect due to anyone who manages to build a large stone replica, no matter what the motivation.

And we bring that up because we suspect there are some among our readership who may be inclined to jeer, to cavil, indeed even to scoff, at the stated motivations of Thomas, the man who imagined and then built the replica above. He gives an explanation at this website, and in it he mentions Celtic magic and power and a bridge to the underworld, spirits and elementals–even white robes.

Thos 5Now we know that these topics rub many of our readers the wrong way, but they are, as inevitably as archaeology, engineering and astronomy, tied up in people’s perception of Stonehenge. And when the henge parasite hatches in the mind, it goes straight as if by instinct for the most vulnerable area. Sometimes it’s art, sometimes it’s science, sometimes it’s tourism, sometimes it’s bravado, sometimes it’s nostalgia, sometimes it’s play and sometimes it’s a mystical inclination. That last is the case here.

We’ve made the argument often that the Celts and druids could not have built Stonehenge, having arrived at least a millennium too late, but that does not technically preclude the possibility that those descended from Celtic peoples have some blood of the megalithic builders in their veins.  Celtic culture could have arrived as a style embraced by the indigenous people of the isles, rather than as a race who arrived to exterminate them–and some DNA testing suggests that is precisely the case.

Thos 7So scoff if you must, scoffers, but in the henging world there are many mansions and all who henge are welcome. You can read more by and about Thomas and his henging inspiration here.

Score for this nice garden trilithon and stone circle: 6 druids. He included a heel stone and a few small bluestone-like uprights. And to be honest, we would be thrilled to have this in our garden, an intimation of a magical world. We’re also thrilled to have another large, permanent replica!

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Asian Cupboard Henge: Stonehenge-Generated Art

syjuco stonehenge

“Pacific Super (Stonehenge),” by Stephanie Syjuco, used with permission

Stonehenge as a basic form for art is a recurring theme on Clonehenge. The Whitney-exhibited artist whose work this is, Stephanie Syjuco (her website is here), was born in the Philippines and lives in San Francisco, and one of her themes is the interplay of eastern and western cultures as it manifests in the marketplace as the average person experiences it. Her statement for this artwork:

Description: downloaded an image of Stonehenge from the internet and used it as a template to go shopping at Pacific Super, a chain of Asian supermarkets in Daly City. I chose products based on how their shape and size would “fit” into my own recreation of Stonehenge. The resulting model is made of mainly inexpensive food products imported from China, Japan, the Philippines, and Thailand. ‘Pacific Super’ addresses issues of global production, consumption and cross-cultural translation, using the familiar image of a world-famous ‘mystical’ European landmark and everyday Asian goods.”

We’re willing to bet that the original builders of Stonehenge never saw this one coming! Little did they know the multitude of messages they would someday help people communicate.  If only we were the direct inheritors of their estate. Think of the royalties!

Looking at this as a structure, we can tell Stephanie was working from an image (*applause* sadly, many people don’t bother). We can see the outer circle and taller inner trilithon horseshoe. There are fallen stones and even a hint at bluestones. This one is very nice for what it is, rising above the average trilithon circle made of cupboard boxes (and oh, yes, there are some!).

Score: 6 druids, maybe 6½ because we like that clean photograph look, plus–we sometimes use that kind of soap!

By the way, a friendly wave and hello to any readers blown our way by search-engine winds while navigating for more about the newly discovered bluestone circle near Stonehenge. We invite you to have a look around the blog. We’ve posted photos or links to well over 200 Stonehenge replicas and there are more to come. We suggest a look at our interview and the list of Large Permanent Replicas for a start!

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Fridgehenge in Wiltshire: Organics on the A303

fridgehenge

photo from Mirror.co.uk

We’re late with this one. It’s already gone. Unlike the other Stonehenge on the A303, this replica built of refrigerators was a temporary construction, unveiled on the morning of September 22, 2009, and removed on the 29th. Our thanks to a number of people, including Andy Burnham of the Megalithic Portal and Pete Glastonbury, ancient-sites photographer and friend of Clonehenge, for bringing it to our attention!

The Organic Milk Cooperative stated: “Fridgehenge is a monument to organic farming and is intended to symbolise the natural goodness of milk that’s been produced on farms that don’t use artificial chemicals and pesticides.” In an added whimsical gesture they painted each of the more than 30 recycled fridges with a cow-like spot pattern. Which, despite its non-circular design and simple trilithon construction, makes this a unique and likeable replica in our opinion!

Promoting organic milk is still another new reason for building a henge. Communications manager for the group said, ““We are very proud of ‘Fridgehenge’ and hope it helps to inspire more people to drink organic milk . . .” To be honest, we’re not sure it works for that sort of thing. But we do know how it is when you’re struck with the compulsion to build a henge–you’ll reach for any rationalisation that allows you the illusion that it was your idea. No ancient monument tells us what to do, eh?

We’re inspired by the placement of this fridgehenge. Immediately we begin to imagine the A303 becoming a sort of avenue of the henges with people building replicas of every size and description along the highway leading to and away from the real thing. True folk art of the most peculiar kind–archaeologists would have a cow!

Score: 7 druids. We wish the builders well and hope the Old Gods hear their plea.

[Other fridgehenges have also been temporary: one in Santa Fe, New Mexico and one in New Zealand (outside link with no photo). And we doubt we’ve seen our last!]

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