Stonehenge Apocalypse: And We’re Back to Hollywood

photo totally nicked from Misha Collins’ Twitpics, which we’re pretty sure are meant as promotional pics

The movies–the good, the bad, the indifferent, and in this case, the never-yet-aired. This movie is Stonehenge Apocalypse. The plot on IMDB reads like this: “When a group of archaeologists dig up a human skeleton near the historical monument of STONEHENGE, an ancient piece of machinery hidden beneath the bedrock is discovered. Not knowing what it could be the workers accidentally trigger the mechanism and start a chain of events that may very well end the world as we know it.

The world as we know it? Man, it is long gone at this point. Who says that anymore? But we’re not the ad copy police. (They won’t let us carry handcuffs!) So let’s look at this Stonehenge replica. We think it’s a pretty good trilithon. You can see other shots of it here and here. Score: 7½ druids. Good lichens, but it is just a trilithon.

So you may ask, why does Doctor Who get to film at the real Stonehenge while this film didn’t? Well, people, that’s why they call him The Doctor, innit? It helps to be a beloved national institution!

Meanwhile, here’s a synopsis of Stonehenge Apocalypse from the New York Times: “Stonehenge mystically begins rearranging itself causing massive unexplained natural destruction around the world.” No one seems to know just when it will air, but when it does we doubt it will reach Doctor Who audience levels. But we would love it if it surprised us. Any movie with a Stonehenge replica is one we’d watch!

Happy henging!


More Views of a Museum Stone

photos by Gary of @Avebury_News, the guide coordinator at Avebury NT, used with permission

This is just a small supplement to our post of February 11, More Old Film: Model of an Avebury Stone. Friend of the blog, Gary of @Avebury_News on Twitter, posted these photos of the stone we featured in that post. The photos in the last post were taken in 1955. These were taken fifty-five years later.

This now venerable display has educated generations of children and adults. As @Avebury_News said, “The model depicts how they believe the Avebury, and I guess Stonehenge, stones were potted.” By which we suppose he means set in the ground.

It is fascinating to see that, while the supporting poles do seem to have been moved, and the little antler replicas have disappeared, it looks as if the twine or string remains exactly as it was fifty-five years ago! You may well say, Why not?, but it seems to us somehow remarkable and wonderful, this sturdy stone somehow chosen to be a teacher while its fellows stay out on the landscape ignored, and this twine, probably wrapped in a moment or two by a museum worker, still just as it was.

The whole thing plays in to the timelessness of the larger site around it. We’re charmed! The stone was no doubt chosen to represent the lozenge-shaped stones, thought perhaps to represent the feminine principle. And there behind it is the beautiful, mystical (at least to us) Silbury Hill, like the umbilicus some believe it to have represented.

[This display can be found in the Stables Gallery of the Alexander Keiller Museum in Avebury, Wiltshire, UK, home of the largest stone circle in the world. In case you just stumbled on us now. (Do try to keep up!)]

And to all of our readers, happy henging!


Snowhenge – Michigan Druids Unravel the Ancient Enigma

photo from the Snowhenge blog on Blogspot, used with permission

The ancient DRUIDS did it with stone, the Michigan DRUIDS do it with snow.” So says the Snowhenge blog from which this picture came. We distinguish it from the blog of friend-of-Clonehenge David Mantripp at snowhenge dot net, who took the photo that marked our first posted snowhenge.

We’ve done several snowhenges since then and we’ve seen many more that never made it to our pages, but most of them have been from  places exotic, mainly Antarctica (here’s another, and another), where the Stonehenge-building field is strong and mankind cannot resist its power, and the even more exotic Bristol! This time our outstanding snowhenge is/was in humble Michigan.

Yes, Michigan is once more pushing to reclaim its briefly-held title of the Stonehenge State, after having it cruelly ripped from its claws by Washington State which no doubt wanted a name that people wouldn’t mistake for the national capital. To recap in case you’ve forgotten, Michigan is home to the little replica at Raven Hill Discovery Center, the all-over-the-web famous Wally Wallington’s Forgotten Technology henge (did he ever finish that thing?), and best of all, the beautiful Nunica Henge, in our opinion one of the finest ever made. Bravo, Michigan!

But alas, while this snowhenge is large, it is not a permanent replica. “Standing 6.5 feet tall and 30 feet in diameter and consisting of nearly 1000 cubic feet of packed snow, Snowhenge’s 12 pillars and 12 lintels are perfectly aligned astronomical markers. Looking directly through the hole in the center of pillar 3 soon after sunset on Winter Solstice extraordinarily reveals an almost equilateral triangle formed by the visible planets Saturn (left), Mars (top), and Venus (right). . . . Outside the circle, three pairs of standing snowmen show where the sun rises and sets for each of the solstices and equinoxes.

Clearly a lot of thought and work have gone into this henge, and judging by the copy on the blog we would hazard a guess that a lot of intoxicating substance, liquid or of another variety, went into its builders! We have trouble believing that “Numerous consecutive years of record heat spikes in Perth, Australia are directly responsible for the extraordinary cold snaps at MacKay Jaycees Family Park which will amazingly keep Snowhenge frozen all year round.

But if that should happen, we would definitely add this henge to our list of large permanent replicas. It wouldn’t tie Michigan with Washington State, but it would certainly put them in striking distance! Permafrost would be a small price to pay for a chance at the title!

Score: Well, our snowhenge scores have been all over the place so far, but we’ll give this one a solid 8 druids. Why, if there’s no bluestone circle, no trilithon horseshoe, no ditch and bank?! It’s their prose, I’m afraid. Stupid silliness, as some have experienced, is the way to our hearts and our carefully-meted-out druids. And look at their closing line: “No matter the medium, the DRUIDS purpose remains the same – do it bigger, live it larger, play it harder, have some fun.” Hard to argue with that!

Our thanks to the illustrious Andy Burnham of the Megalithic Portal, who sent this our way, and to Peter Salisbury who gave the permissions. Happy henging!

More Stonehenge Movie Goodness

a poor quality still from a Youtube clip of King Arthur (Yes, I’m afraid we really are THAT lame!)

A quick posting of a few more movies with Stonehenge connections, starting with the rather amusing one in the 2004 movie King Arthur with Clive Owen and, the reason a lot of people went to see it, Keira Knightley as a rather scantily clad warrior maid. At the end of the movie they get married at a construction that a lot of people think is Stonehenge, although it is by the sea near Tintagel in Cornwall, some way from the real Stonehenge in Wiltshire. It is a nonexistent Stonehenge-ish thing made for the movie. Some video-ish shots of it can be seen here.

Another fun one is a less-known film called Merlin: The Return for which a Stonehenge replica was reportedly built in Africa where it was filmed. Alas, we have no picture of that one, but we’ve read that it situated Stonehenge in the woods, much as in this montage: Stonehenge as a Woodland Site.

Less fun and not actually involving Stonehenge replicas were the Tess movies over the years, various versions of the Thomas Hardy novel Tess of the D’Urbervilles. A scene in the novel takes place at Stonehenge and some have filmed at the site.

That includes the 2008 version made by BBC television and the 1979 version made by the infamous Roman Polanski with Nastassia Kinski in the lead role.

And last, and for a change also least, we may as well mention the movie Halloween III: Season of the Witch. Why? “Silver Shamrock, a mass-producer of Halloween masks, plan to kill millions of innocent people worldwide by placing pieces of a stolen boulder from Stonehenge into small tags and attaching them to the masks.” And from another webpage we learn why: “See, Stonehenge was a sacrificial altar and wields enormous power, that will make their heads explode and burst forth with crickets and snakes.” How cool is that!?

Eventually people do die, but we think they turn out to be robots or something. But there may be more–we confess we haven’t seen it. We just found the concept of destroying people using bits of Stonehenge as somehow amusing. Who comes up with this stuff?

Well, there are some more Stonehenge-related movies for you. We have at least one more to mention and we’ll get to that after an unrelated post or two. If you know of some we may have missed, please post a comment or email us at the email in the side bar. What a Stonehenge world this is!

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.]


Another Movie Replica: The Black Knight, 1954

photos are stills from this clip posted on TCM

We were going to do one post listing all the movies we know of so far that contain Stonehenge in some form. We’d already posted the movies This Is Spinal Tap and The Colour of Magic, and we thought we could round up the ones that were left in one quick post. Then we watched this video again. Lolz!!!1! It deserves a post of its own!

A synopsis of this section of the movie (from a full synopsis on this page) reads: “John, as the Black Knight, rides off to summon Arthur’s knights, as Linet, the abbot and the remaining monks are taken by the Vikings to the mysterious rocks of Stonehenge, where they are readied as sacrifice. Arthur, John and the knights arrive in time to rescue Linet and the clergymen and destroy Stonehenge.” But, trust us, this does not capture the madness of the wildly dancing girls, the heavily made-up so-called virgin about to be sacrificed, and the wild priests or druids presiding over it, let alone the dramatic rescue of said virgin and the about-to be roasted monks. Don’t you just hate those evil pagans?! 😉

Then, of course, there’s the pulling down of the stones at the end of the sequence. They come down quite easily,  pulled by knights on horses.  Think how that would have impacted on Britain’s tourist trade! Reminds us of National Lampoon’s European Vacation in which Chevy Chase backs into one trilithon and the whole thing goes down like dominoes. D***ed Americans!!

Score for this replica: 7½ druids. We think they did a fine job of mocking up what Stonehenge might have looked like long ago, considering it was 1954. As a matter of fact, we think they may have used the Maryhill replica (see here for our post on that one) for this aerial shot and just mocked up the parts they needed for the close-ups. Still, nicely done.

Our thanks to Bob Bradlee aka StonehengeGuy for steering us to this classic Stonehenge depiction. It is good to laugh!


Take Your Better-Looking Avatar to Stonehenge Second Life

Built in Second Life by Ewan Haggarty, sent to us by Pete Glastonbury

We don’t know much about Second Life. We haven’t figured out how to do something worthwhile with our first life, and we’re pretty sure spending more time on line than we already do isn’t the answer. But of course most people have their act together much better than we do, so for them having a second, virtual, life is an option. It’s probably a relief to enter a place away from routines and mundane concerns.

Second Life (Wikipedia explanation here) has all kinds of places to go, and people can build things there. So naturally there are Stonehenges. We mentioned a couple when we did a post on virtual Stonehenges before. As far as we know, each one is, in its context, a real Stonehenge, not a replica, although–who knows!–there may be virtual Stonehenge replicas there, too. If you know of any, do not hesitate to let us know!

Here’s a link to another, quite accurate Stonehenge made for Second Life. Here’s another Second Life Stonehenge on Flickr. We confess this is all mind boggling to us. We have this strange feeling that all these Stonehenges will have to come to blows someday like male mountain goats vying for the harem. We can see it now, all those huge stones hurling themselves at one another, trying to establish which is the real Stonehenge. When that happens, Second Lifers, get pictures!

Even with a virtual henge we can do what we do. Let’s see: bluestones? Check. Aubrey holes? Check. Sorta-kinda the ditch and bank. Half check. The stones are the wrong proportions and shapes, of course, but in the right places and anyway it’s catchy and you can dance to it. We’ll give it 7½ druids. (See how we’re just ignoring the floating orb, the small pyramid and the wasp-ish thing with breasts? We’re good at what we do! Do not try this at home!)

Who builds these Stonehenges in Second Life? Astronomers? Engineers? Druids? We’d be curious to know. But we’re glad to know that people take the things that inspire and awe them with them wherever they go!