Above: Tim Daw and Rufus at the Long Barrow at All Cannings in May of 2015, when we were privileged to visit
[note: this post was written in 2014, before the completion of the long barrow.]
Despite the fact that we have in effect left this blog on its own like a kitten at a rubbish tip (or dump, if you prefer), it has somehow matured to the ripe age of four hundred posts. To celebrate all of those magnificent and ridiculous Stonehenge replicas, what have we chosen to feature? A new Sconehenge? The long-awaited Space Station replica? (we wish!), a Stonehenge replica owned by some fabulous celebrity? Absolutely not. Instead we are featuring something that not only is not at all a Stonehenge, but is only sort of a replica. BECAUSE IT’S OUR BLOG AND WE CAN DO WHAT WE WANT!!!
And what is this delicious non-henge confection we are serving up to you today? It is the remarkable and brand new Long Barrow at All Cannings. Its website says:“The Long Barrow at All Cannings is a columbarium or place for cremated remains in urns to be kept. It is being built in 2014 in the style of a traditional long barrow in natural materials, but made relevant for today in its internal layout. It is aligned to the sunrise of the winter solstice when the sun will illuminate the internal stone passageway.”
Yep, you still gotta have that sunrise alignment! To help us tell you about the long barrow, we have pretended to be responsible bloggers and interviewed the man behind the barrow, Tim Daw, writer of the Stonehenge-related blog Sarsen.org. If you’re a Stonehenge fan, that should already be on your blogroll. Mr. Tim Daw, once a staff member at Stonehenge for English Heritage, owns Cannings Cross farms in Wiltshire.
Clonehenge: What made you decide to build the long barrow? Was there a moment of inspiration, or was this in the back of your mind for a long time?
Tim Daw: It was a moment of inspiration that brought together various long cogitated thoughts; it would be nice to build a barrow for myself, lots of people need a place for cremated urns that is a bit special and has a spiritual quality which is hard to find elsewhere, somewhere to revisit and remember; WOW! this is a great spot.
Clonehenge: How would you say your long term knowledge of Stonehenge and the nearby landscape of Wiltshire’s distant past informed your inspiration and decisions about the long barrow, its purpose and construction?
Tim Daw: I think it made me want to make it authentic and real but not a copy or pastiche. Using ancient techniques but not bound by play acting reconstruction. And making it worthy to be alongside the other monuments in the area.
And therein, we think, lies the secret of the fine quality of this barrow. If you have been reading the Clonehenge blog from the beginning (And surely you have, Gentle Reader), you have heard us talk about the sacred landscapes in Wiltshire, not only Stonehenge, Avebury, and Silbury hill, but the cursus, long barrows, round barrows, avenues, and more.
Mr. Daw has been steeping in this environment, learning about it and dwelling in the midst of it his whole life, developing a deep respect for the history and the land itself. That relationship reveals itself in the understated excellence of the design and his willingness to pay for the finest quality stone work. The barrow is not just a fanciful construction, nor just a place to deposit a loved one’s ashes with reverence and permanence. It is, in the best sense, also his gesture to that sacred and legended land that surrounds it and to those who once did and those who still do revere it.
But what kind of talk is that? We’re a humourous blog, much more suited to embarrassingly-shaped vegetables than to that sort of thing! We’re running out of room in this post, so to make a long story short, we say: this is your chance: £1000 pounds to be your own barrow wight seems like a bargain to us! And what if that ancient theory about the solstice sun when it enters the barrow bringing the dead to life turns out to be true? That would certainly be more than your money’s worth, right there! [Note: there is no longer any room in Tim’s long barrow, but other people are building them now, so a little research may help you find a similar resting place.]
Okay, this isn’t a Stonehenge replica, but to us it points up the things that make most Stonehenge replicas ridiculous. Stonehenge is an ancient monument that is a unique part of humanity’s deep history, placed exactly where it is for a reason, in a landscape that still resonates with the reverence of many thousands of years of inhabitants, some of whose descendants still live there today. No Stonehenge replica, from two upright carrot sticks with a cross carrot on top, to the most carefully accurate full-sized replica, can approach that essence of what Stonehenge is.
But in All Cannings there will now be a long barrow of modern construction that, while it is not a Stonehenge replica in any other sense, may have captured a whiff of the ineffable weight and meaning of Stonehenge both on the land of which it is a part and in the psyches of those for whom Stonehenge and its ancient companions have become an obsession.
Whoever THEY are.
And until next time, friends, happy henging!
P. S: We did ask Mr. Daw if he was planning to add some Easter Island heads to the property later. He said no, but he might add some gibbets in preparation for The Glorious Day….