Jörg Sorge’s Concrete Stonehenge in Magdeburg: “Inside I Am a Celt”!

Photo copyright Dennis Kotzian, used with permission

 

A translation from German of the original caption of this photo reads:

Stonehenge in Magdeburg

During a walk around the Salbker Lake, you can see a replica of Stonehenge, which is the stone circle cult site of the Celts in southern England.

Stone mason Jörg Sorge from Magdeburg has built this on his property.”

There is so much to unpack here.

For one thing, a little research makes it clear that although he is a stone mason, Sorge has fashioned these ‘stones’ out of concrete, texturing and painting them to resemble stone. A lot of time and creativity, and so presumably love and enthusiasm, has gone into this.

And then of course there is the whole Celtic thing, which we learn more about in another article, where Sorge, who plays the bagpipe and sometimes wears a kilt, asserts that “inside i am a Celt”. In one article, featuring a picture of him in said kilt, standing in his Stonehenge, we read:

The culture of the rugged Scottish highlands has fascinated Jörg Sorge for years. He has long felt like a Celt, last summer he also fulfilled the dream of Stonehenge. Now the replica of the Bronze Age stone circle stands in his garden and serves as a backdrop to the Celtic Fire Festival.

Copyright Dennis Kotzian, used with permission

Well, we’ll allow them the Bronze Age bit. Stonehenge was started and much work was done long before that, but the stone circle the replica depicts does seem to have been completed in the Bronze Age. Certainly the dagger art on the stones dates to that time.

But by all accounts, whether ‘Celtic’ culture (no, we’re not going to enter the discussion of whether the term Celtic itself is so broad as to be almost meaningless, an attempt to lump together too many diverse smaller groupings–such discussions are for serious people and we just ain’t one of them, thank whatever gods there be!) washed in like a tide over peoples already in Britain or if it arrived along with new groups of people landing on the island from the continent, it had not yet arrived when Stonehenge was completed. Of that we can be sure. There is certainly no evidence of kilts and bagpipes in any burial in the area of Stonehenge, then or since!

But luckily, Stonehenge replicas are just for fun, and far be it from us to discourage people from championing their inner Celt, whatever they fancy that means, or their inner Viking, or their inner Elf or Ent for that matter. It is useful to explore what has meaning for you, however outlandish it might seem to others. We may find real hidden parts of ourselves by starting with fanciful things we’re drawn to. We at Clonehenge have seen it happen.

This replica that Sorge has built from his inner inspiration and by the work of his own hands has already brought delight to other people, like those who attended the Celtic Fire Festival, and it is certainly worthy of inclusion on our list of large permanent replicas. Well done,sir, say we!

Let this be a lesson to us all, Gentle Readers, and let us not fear to pursue or more whimsical inclinations, regardless of what others think of them. They may turn out to be a way to enhance not only our lives but the lives of others, and encourage them to be more free as well.

So until next time (which may well be after the official Clonehenge trip to Stonehenge and environs!*), dear friends, happy henging!

*if you are at Stonehenge equinox access on the morning of the 23rd, we may see you there!

Transatlantic Coalition of Stonehenge Experts Builds Stonehenge with Toy Blocks!

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Simon Banton and Neil Wiseman ponder their remake of Stonehenge. Photo by Andy Burns.

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Actual plan of Stonehenge to compare

We know it for ourselves: these grey blocks are irresistible. Off in one corner of the wonderful Wiltshire Museum which displays, among many wonderful things, a collection called Gold from the Time of Stonehenge, there is a children’s section that includes rectangular grey blocks and a round green base to build on. What possibilities! The very sight of it casts a spell of inevitability on any true henger.

 

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Neil Wiseman admiring his handiwork at the Wiltshire Museum. Photo by Simon Banton.

Enter, from stage left, two Stonehenge experts and over-qualified hengers: Mr. Simon Banton, introduced to our readers a few posts ago and whose blog includes a page for each stone at Stonehenge, and Mr. Neil Wiseman, author of the book Stonehenge and the Neolithic Cosmos: A New Look at the Oldest Mystery in the World. The two gentlemen assert that they did not actually visit the museum solely to make a Stonehenge replica, but the same siren song of the grey blocks that sang to us during our visit three years ago lured them to the children’s section. The result was both extraordinary and, in a way, hilarious—hilarious, we mean, by virtue of the contrast between the simplicity of those grey children’s blocks and the level of expertise Wiseman and Banton brought to bear on them.

You may compare their accomplishment with the aerial view of Stonehenge we have provided for that purpose. Within the limitations of the medium, this is probably the best Stonehenge replica possible. If we were still handing out Druid scores for henges, we would have to give this one 9 Druids. And yes, as the cognoscenti might remind us, Druids had nothing to do with the building of Stonehenge, but it is so much a part of public perceptions of the monument that it amuses us to use it as our metric.

Of course, we hasten to say that we do not expect this kind of precision from the common henger. It is, however, not cheating to actually look at a picture of Stonehenge before you build. You, too, can beat the dreaded Circle of Trilithons Syndrome!

Addendum: pertinent to our previous post about Stonehenge Centenary Day, below is a picture of Mr. Tim Daw (of the first modern long barrow, and the resting concrete trilithon we’ve mentioned here in the past) at that event* and rather dapperly dressed for it, putting together a wooden Stonehenge he made for English Heritage. It is a lovely thing, in the category of replicas that show Stonehenge as it is thought to have looked at its height. Note the diagram at the lower left, being used as a guide.

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Photo by Brian Edwards.

If these people who know Stonehenge so well and have spent time there are compelled to build their own, how then are the rest of us to resist the imperative? Give in. Make henges and be happy!

Until next time, friends, we wish you happy henging!

*We hope to post some pictures of henges from the henging contest at the centenary event at some future date.

 

The Stonehenge Perspective on Henging, Part 2: Simon Banton, Continued

Simon Banton and a rook at an undisclosed location, photo by Wendy Pallesen or perhaps Carol Druce

“…there’s something about the trilithon form that aches with antiquity and latent symbolism.”

Here is the second half of our interview with Stonehenge man Simon Banton.

5) Why do you think so many people continue to make Stonehenges of all sizes and materials all over the world?

The act of creation lies deep within most of us, and creating a clonehenge seems to foster a deep sense of satisfaction. It has the huge advantage of being instantly recognisable, so no special talent is required. I can’t draw for toffee, but you were kind enough to feature my Etch-a-Sketched clonehenge [see previous post] even though it was 2D. There’s also the growing awareness that there’s a community of clonehengers, and I guess a desire to belong to this elite club must factor in somewhere.

[Editor’s note: You, too, can belong to an elite club!]

6) Why do you think Stonehenge models and replicas so often wind up being an assemblage of trilithons rather than being more like Stonehenge? Why is the trilithon such a powerful and memorable symbol?

That is a very significant question. There’s no doubt that “two uprights and one horizontal” is immediately Stonehenge and it’s been a famous icon in the public’s attention for at least 300 years now. From the standalone pylons of Egyptian temples, through the Temple of the Sun at Tiwanaku to the Greek letter PI [Editor’s note: one could add the Japanese Torii gate and Tonga’s Ha’amonga’a Maui Trilithon.] there’s something about the trilithon form that aches with antiquity and latent symbolism.

Perhaps it’s the “doorways upon doorways” meme that Henry of Huntingdon came up with in the early 12th Century AD [Editor’s note: English scholar Henry of Huntington wrote in 1130, describing Stonehenge as a place “where stones of an amazing size are set up in the manner of doorways, so that one door seems to be set upon another. Nor can anyone guess by what means so many stones were raised so high, or why they were built there.”]  that’s the root of it for our culture, or maybe Spinal Tap have had a fundamental impact on humanity that will echo down the ages.

I also think that the idea of a continuous “ring beam” [Editor: Simon is using the term “ring beam” here to refer to the continuous circle of curved lintels that is thought to have topped the upright sarsens of Stonehenge’s outer circle.] doesn’t figure in many people’s consciousness, so they end up doing a ring of separate trilithons instead.

7) Is there anything you would like to say about Stonehenge replicas? Do you have any stories connected with one that you would like to share?

More full size ones please! I realise that’s a big ask, but perhaps it’s something for an ice sculpture festival to tackle. I’ve had a small involvement with one full size trilithon replica with my friends Tim Daw and Julian Richards. Julian’s an archaeologist and Stonehenge obsessive. Back in the 1990s he made a TV documentary called “Secrets of Lost Empires” where he and a team of engineers and volunteers attempted—successfully —to erect two 40 ton concrete uprights and a 10 ton lintel as a replica of the tallest trilithon that ever stood at Stonehenge.

After the programme, the components were dismantled and stored on a nearby military base, in a car park, until a few years ago when the army rang him up and asked if he wanted them back as they were getting in the way of their tanks. Julian asked me if I knew anyone who had some land where they might be moved to, and perhaps re-erected in a new project—and I immediately thought of Tim.

Tim’s a visionary. He built the first new “long barrow”, as a columbarium, in 5,500 years and has spawned an industry of modern barrow-makers as a result. [see Clonehenge’s post on the Long Barrow at All Cannings here] He jumped at the chance and these large lumps of concrete were low-loaded from the military base to Tim’s farm, where they await the attention of an intrepid bunch of Stonehengineers. [see Clonehenge’s post about the rediscovery and moving to Tim’s farm of the pieces of the concrete trilithon here]

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photos of the parts of the concrete trilithon at rest on Cannings Cross Farm

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Stonehengineers, those who helped erect the concrete trilithon the first time

8) Is there anything you think more people should know about Stonehenge itself?

Everyone who’s interested in the astronomy of the site should read Gordon Freeman’s “Hidden Stonehenge”—not least because he is one of the few archaeoastronomer researchers who actually spent considerable time on-site observing and photographing at key points in the year, over many years. He identified a secondary solstitial axis that runs from Winter Sunrise to Summer Sunset and explains why the Altar Stone is (a) flat on the ground and (b) at 80° to the primary axis. I helped Gordon confirm some of his observation data and had the pleasure of meeting him a few years ago.

More generally, the most recent research is suggesting that the society responsible for Stonehenge’s construction was almost completely eradicated by an incoming population from the Continent in the early Bronze Age. If this is true, then we have—in Britain—no direct ancestral connection to the builders of it. That’s something of a shock, as Stonehenge is a touchstone of British identity. The argument about the DNA evidence from early Beaker graves that suggests this is likely to get quite heated.

9) Do you have any advice for hengers?

If you’re going for realism, don’t forget the Heel Stone, the Slaughter Stone, the Station Stones and the Altar Stone. Note that the central trilithons increase in height towards the southwest and they’re all taller than the sarsen circle that surrounds them. If you’re going to include figures in the middle, make them archaeologists having a fight and—above all—think BIG and have fun! (Hengers, take heed!)

10) Do you have any advice for Clonehenge itself?

Frankly, I don’t think it could be any better. [!!!] Except, maybe—Clonehenge merchandise? I feel the need to make a Clonehenge out of Clonehenge coffee mugs—or is that too much like meta-henging?

[Editor: Not at all. Plus, meta-henging is a good thing! 😉 We will be working to make Clonehenge mugs and perhaps eventually other merchandise available from print-on-demand sites in both in the UK and the States, so that neither place will have to pay exorbitant postal fees, hopefully some time in the near future.]

Thank you very much, Simon! Thus ends our two-part interview with the illustrious Stonehenge devotee. We hope you have enjoyed it and perhaps learned something! You can find the first part of the interview here. We should note with gratitude that upon the occasion of our visit to Stonehenge in 2015, Simon went out of his way to meet us there and give us a calendar with his own photos of Stonehenge. We were quite honoured!

Gentle Readers: Do you have questions about Stonehenge or about Stonehenge replicas in any form? If you have a question that is in any way connected to our topic, get in touch on Facebook or Twitter, or leave a comment below, and we will answer or get in touch with someone who can answer your questions. We will also consider requests for posts on related topics.

And of course, until next time, friends, happy henging!

Stonehenge Merapi: Visit Stonehenge in Indonesia! With Evacuation Routes, Just in Case!

Stonehenge Merapi, photo by rovi tavare

This is your up-to-date Stonehenge reporter, with the latest news tracking Stonehenge as it spreads itself around the globe! Today we present to you…drumroll…Stonehenge in Indonesia! Not just in Indonesia, but on the slope of a recently-erupted volcano!

Built some time in late 2016, it stands on the island of Java, on the slope of Mount Merapi, a volcano that erupted in 2010 and is still considered active. One site, translated from the Indonesian reassures us, “Stonehenge building is actually also located in KRB III (disaster prone area) but not to worry because the manager also provides evacuation routes.” Comforting!

“No need to go to England!” one site proclaims. You can save yourself a trip and take those selfies here!

One remarkable thing we have never seen at another large Stonehenge replica is a sign in front of the monument, a set of large red letters that spell STONEHENGE in our familiar Latin alphabet! Take note, English Heritage!

Stonehenge Merapi, sign and all, photo by Angki Hermawan.

A surprising number of photos and videos of this Stonehenge can be found online, especially considering how new it is, a testament to its popularity with tourists and locals alike. Someone must have known it would receive a hearty welcome. There are even some of those misty, moody photos that reveal the presence of that kind of monument photographer with nothing to do but lurk about in all weathers waiting for the perfect shot—stone botherers, as we’ve heard them called. Doesn’t take them long to show up when something like this appears. They certainly have kindred spirits back in sites around Wiltshire!

And what do we think of it? The stones are nicely uneven if a bit lanky. It does look as if the builders paid enough attention to face the inner trilithon horseshoe toward the three-lintel stretch in the outer circle. But few bluestone-like bits and no ditch or bank, so we’ll award it 8 druids. No, wait! 8 1/2 druids—the extra half is for building it on the slope of an active volcano. That is very much in the spirit of Clonehenge! Kudos to the builders, whoever they are!

So if you find yourself on Java, in the city of Yogyakarta, famous for the beautiful 9th century temple of Borobodur, be sure to make a detour to Lost World Castle to see this amazing lava Stonehenge, and don’t wait too long. At any time another eruption could end its brief but brilliant life! And until next time, friends, happy henging!

Henge Man Matt Rich: Is Henging a Hobby, a Calling, or a Disorder? Do We Care?

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Henge Man, by Matt Rich

A special treat for solstice! If Matt had not existed, we would have had to invent him. But here he is and we are delighted!

We came across him on Facebook and saw he was dedicated to henging as we once were to seeking out hengers and henges wherever they’re hidden. There he was, selflessly posting henge after henge,  barely noticing the acclaim that followed each.

We began to realise, here is the person we have dreamed of, The Henge Master, the person who not only builds a henge or to but who lives to henge! Our many years of study of Stonehenge replicas and their builders, including the inimitable Simon Burrow, had led us to suspect such people might be out there, but it was still a thrill to see him in action. We got in touch, watched his posts, and inevitably, asked him for an interview to try to learn what makes him tick. We are grateful to say he was more than happy to oblige. Matt Rich lives in Leeds and is in his 30s.

CH: Hi, Matt. How did you first get interested in henging?

Matt: I first started making single torii henges out of mud on the school playing field when I was in primary school. The kids used to kick them down, but I just made more.

I didn’t know about Stonehenge at the time. I found out when one of the teachers asked me if my parents were hippies. I had no idea what she was talked about, so I said no (which is true). When I found out that the megalithic builders had beat me to it, I felt embarrassed. So I stopped. Later in art class I made one out of clay, but it exploded in the kiln. After that I stopped for many years. I started again about 2 years ago.

CH: What was your first henge and how did it come about?

Matt: My first real henge was Cheesehenge.

(CH note: Cheesehenges are a classic beginning henge.)

Matt: I have to be honest. I henge for fun. I enjoy it. I love the henge formation.

CH: Best reason to henge! Have you been to Stonehenge and if so, how many times?

Matt: I have been to Stonehenge. I was 10 years old and I didn’t appreciate it. I was bored. I was expecting a theme park. I would probably like it quite a lot if I go now.

CH: Do you enjoy seeing other people’s Stonehenge replicas or is it more interesting to you as a way of expressing yourself?

Matt: I love seeing other people’s Stonehenge or clonehenge replicas. I really like it when other people copy my henge. I have posted them in many groups and  I have inspired many other people to henge.

CH: If you could visit any large permanent replica, which one would you visit? Or is there one you wish you could build for people to visit?

Matt: I would like to visit the pyramids at Giza. I would like to make a skyscraper henge or a tree henge before I die.

CH: Anything else?

Matt: I need to tell the henge story.

In September 2014 I purchased some ready-cut cheese from Marks & Spencer. I was trying to think of a post for The Boring Group [on Facebook], when suddenly I decided to make a  Henge. I posted a picture of the Henge to the group and I received 100+ likes and many comments. I also posted Change Henge to The Very Boring Group [also on FB] where it got 401 likes. A couple of weeks later I made Sock Henge and posted it to both groups. This also got many likes in both groups, but in The Very Boring Group, many people started to copy me.

At one one point one in four posts was a henge post. In the end Henges were banned under rule number 27. At the same time The Boring Overlord, who created The Very Boring Group, made a group called, ‘Will It Henge?’. I was made admin of this group along with 3 other people, we called ourselves Druids. I was not a big fan of the rules in, Will It Henge? so I rebelled and I was removed as admin by Dan The Unhenger. I later quite the group and made my own page called, This Is My Henge. My page did quite well generating nearly 2 thousand likes. I also continued to post my henges to The Boring Group and still do. In The Boring Group my Henges are liked by many people, and every time I post a Henge I get many likes and comments.

I recently discovered the Clonehenge group where I met [you] The rest is history.

Yes, folks, Matt posted so many henges to one group that all henges ended up being banned!

To finish, rather than say more words, which you will just skim through anyway and not really read, because, seriously, who has time???, we’ll finish with a few sets of thumbnails of Matt’s prolific output of henges. When we started this blog many years ago, we did not even dare to think that such an array and variety of henges could exist, let alone be built by one person. We applaud Matt and his one-man championing of the henging craft! May he live long and henge often!

And a very happy solstice to all of you, winter or summer, depending where you are. Until next time (and we do have a treat in store!), we wish you happy and fruitful henging!

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Wine Rack Henge

Posted by Simon

It is the curse of the henger.  I was building a new wine rack for the hall closet and the nicely shaped maple pieces suddenly started talking to me.  And what they were saying was “we are a henge.”

And they became a henge.

Then the spirits intervened (it is a wine rack after all) and the sunlight reflected of the car window shone directly through the southern trilithon.

A clear message that the Mayans were wrong and the world will go on after the winter solstice.

This is my first entry in the Clonehenge End of the World Festival contest as announced on October 23, 2012.  Life is Good.

Thank you Nancy for letting me “guest blog” on Clonehenge.  I feel like I am typing on sacred ground.  Well not exactly “sacred ground” maybe “sacred pixels.”

You can see more of my hengish contributions here.

Update on Esperance–Australia’s Pink Stonehenge Going Forward!

Photo from the Esperance Express.

This is an update to our post (Stonehenge Recycled, Australia Tries Again) on the proposed Stonehenge replica in Esperance, a town on the south coast of Australia. (Claim to fame? When pieces of Skylab fell there in 1979, the town of Esperance charged the United States for littering.) Our thanks to friend of the blog Matt Penny, aka @salisbury_matt,  once again, for sending us the link to this article.

It doesn’t sound as if any stones have yet been erected, but the article does say, “According to Mr Beale the site has been soil-tested and initial works have begun in working out where the stones will go. It is hoped the project will be finished late March to early April.” So plans to erect the stones must be in place. Right? We hope.

Of course there appear to be worries about pagans worshiping there (Oh, no, Trev, someone is honouring the earth again! Can’t have that, Nige!), as if pagans will only worship in your area if you build a Stonehenge for them. But the couple doing the building reassures the locals that Stonehenge may not have been a pagan place of worship at all (Whew!), so all is well.

For us, the good news is simply that the project seems to be going forward. Esperance will soon be home to “the world’s only life-size granite replica of Stonehenge.” (Apparently they don’t consider Rothberg’s Circle of Life in Connecticut a true Stonehenge replica, which is kind of true.) We are eager to welcome number 67 to our list of large permanent replicas! Just hopethey don’t charge the U.K. for littering!

Post script: Esperance, Australia is also famous among “a-flock-alypse” followers as the site of at least two mass bird deaths a few years ago. Many people believe the deaths had to do with high lead levels, while others insist the cause is still not known.