Clonehenge still from the Facebook Super Bowl commercial
The tale we are about to tell you may sound unlikely or even fictional, but in this strange alternative universe to which we have somehow been transported it is 100% true.
In December, a few days before Christmas, I and a small cohort of the Clonehenge faithful (Simon Burrow and Paul Stoffels) were flown, all expenses paid, to L.A. and put up in a swanky Hollywood hotel for two nights. Another member of the Clonehenge: Stonehenge replicas Unleashed Facebook group , Siobhán Jess Sarrels, lived closer and was brought in by limo to meet us the next day where we were ushered into another limo and driven to the site where a set including a small Stonehenge replica had been prepared.
There we were led to a big trailer which was ours for our time there. We were visited by wardrobe and makeup people, met some of the people who had been instrumental in bringing us there, and went to the set. We ended up spending most of the day doing a shoot along with some very genial actors meant to appear to be Clonehenge group members. The main acting direction was to “look badass!” One does what one can.
What we did not know that day (it was at winter solstice, although we were led to believe that this was a coincidence) was that our shoot was to be part of a Super Bowl commercial (advert, ad, whatever word you prefer). On 02/02/2020 it aired. For a brief instant, the name Clonehenge: Stonehenge Replicas Unleashed!, some very good friends of Clonehenge, and the person typing these words—the redhead with the dark glasses*—appeared before a huge audience of American football fans. At last glance, the video of the ad on Youtube alone has had almost 22 million views. Whether they were all me watching it over and over again will remain undisclosed.
Apparently, at least judging by the soundtrack of the video, whether we at Clonehenge headquarters know it or not, we want to rock. This is new information and we are now attempting to assimilate it into our worldview. The effort is ongoing.
At any rate, the whole thing has been a glorious adventure. Not only have 200 new members joined our Facebook group, bringing us over the 500 member mark, but this along with a radio interview we did on Australian Broadcasting in Sydney on the same day the commercial aired brought this blog’s stats up to near record levels.
To be honest, we had always expected to labor over this topic in obscurity until the end of our days, so this all comes as a bit of a shock. We can only assume that having had the 15 minutes of fame granted to everyone by Andy Warhol, we will now be able to crawl back under the rock from which we briefly issued and continue searching out Stonehenges in all the places where we all, frankly, know they should not be. In that sense, come to think of it, perhaps we do want to rock.
We hope to resume our slow listing of large Stonehenge replicas worldwide in the next post. It is likely to be posted with the same grace and lightning-like speed to which readers have become accustomed.
Thank you for finding us or for sticking with us all these years. Until next time, gentle readers, happy henging!
Moai Coffee, Ratchaburi, Thailand: a meeting of moai, cyclopean walls, coffee, and of course Stonehenge. Seriously, humanity, how did this happen? This is one of those instances when the Stonehenge replica gods seem almost malevolently whimsical.
We understand we may have a few new visitors to this site soon, after an advertisement in which Clonehenge is mentioned is shown widely, and this replica may demonstrate the Clonehenge aesthetic to the curious as well as any: contextless prehistory offered as entertainment, with a healthy side of cringe. Here at Clonehenge, this is part of what we love!
Apparently this Stonehenge has been around since at least 2013 (at which time there were sheep grazing through it, but sadly it seems they have disappeared), but somehow we did not get wind of it until last year. Up front, we want to offer real respect to whoever decided to go so hard for the ‘”so bad it’s good” vibe they have going there. Moai Coffee is an instant classic.
The business itself is a coffee and snack-to-light-meal stop on a popular route in western Thailand. In order to amuse and attract people it seems someone decided to give it an Easter Island head, also known as moai, theme. It isn’t clear just how many moai they have, but there are many and each is unique. Some are just big heads of various sizes, some show the entire torso. You can even buy moai mugs as souvenirs. Humourously the rest rooms are differentiated by a moai with a prominent mustache for the mens’ and a moai with brilliant red lipstick for the ladies’! This place clearly was created with the Instagram selfie celeb in mind.
How Stonehenge crept in there is as yet unknown but there is some confusion among many people about whether Stonehenge and Easter Island heads are related. Stonehenge replicas as far flung as Texas, Japan, and Illinois feature moai as accompaniment for reasons that have never been clear to us. Search ‘Stonehenge’ on Etsy and usually you will see one or two moai listed under that tag. There is also a horrible cartoon that shows a moai on one side of the world and Stonehenge somehow exactly opposite on the other side, with a body between them so that Stonehenge looks like its toes. People send us this cartoon often. (Please stop!)
Listen, we know there is a Youtube video of someone walking around Moai Coffee pointing at the moai and describing them as “stone men from Stonehenge, England” but we will not post that link here. He has been corrected many times in the comments, and besides we refuse to let it continue to ruin our lives. (Is it true that we gripped our heads in both hands and yelled at the screen the first time we saw it? I’m afraid that is merely unconfirmed rumour.)
There are cyclopean walls at Moai Coffee much like those at Sacsayhuamán in Peru, and a few photos show an ancient Egyptian motif in one area or another. We’re all about the Stonehenge stuff here, but the conglomeration of random cool-looking ancient stuff is also a phenomenon worth examining. Not by us, of course. Please, someone go examine it and get back to us.
As for the quality of the replica itself, we judge it very good. The shapes of the stones are rough and close to accurate, which is rare. There is no attempt to make them uniform, a common error, but instead they capture the ancient rugged feel of the real thing. We don’t know whether it is aligned to the winter solstice, or if the lintels are curved but it does appear someone made sure that the inner trilithon horseshoe points toward the three-lintel stretch, one of our favourite tests for whether a builder actually looked at the current Stonehenge when they made it.
This clonehenge gets the official Clonehenge stamp of approval. 8/10, would visit! We will add this to our growing list of large permanent replicas. We have enough left that we have yet to post to take us over the coveted 100 number, so stay tuned. Don’t forget, you can get much more wholesome Clonehenge content on our Facebook group, which is the most active, our Twitter account, and our Facebook page.
We’ll be doing a post about the advert we appear in before long. Until then, friends, new and old, happy henging!
Honestly, we never expected to be part of a Clonehenge event in our own town, but it’s a funny old world! In two weeks, on 21 September*, in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, U. S. of good old A., there will not only be a hayhenge of hay bales, but other Clonehenge-related things and activities for the whole family, except of course your hipster niece and nephew who think they are too cool for it (and they are perhaps the most Clonehenge-ish people of all, but don’t tell them we said so!).
Inspired by Clonehenge, replicas of Stonehenge, Nazareth Hayhenge will be added to the Farmers’ Market on September 21, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the center circle.
There will be Stonehenge themed activities for your whole family to participate in. Foodhenge, a build your own version of Stonehenge made from food from the vendors at the farmers market, is open to people of all ages. There is a $5.00 entry fee with prizes awarded for each category being judged. There will also be a Stonehenge photo op on site, hay bale tic-tac-toe and a children’s play area where they can duplicate Stonehenge by using building blocks.
Here comes the good,—meaning laughable—part:
Famed Clonehenge author, Nancy Wisser, a Nazareth resident, was invited to visit Stonehenge a few years back and decided to write a blog about all the fun happenings around the world duplicating Stonehenge. She never expected her following to grow worldwide and was shocked at the outpouring of support. Nancy will be at Nazareth Hayhenge discussing Stonehenge and all of the replicas around the world, as well as the fall equinox, during this fun event.
If you are interested in getting involved in this event either as a sponsor or vendor, please contact Liz, firstname.lastname@example.org
Have some fun photos of the day? Post them to our facebook event and make sure to tag #NazarethHayhenge
“Famed Clonehenge author.” Yeah, no, not so much with the fame unless you count a few extreme Stonehenge nerds lost in a forsaken corner of the world called Wessex. And it really isn’t really fame on my part, just sort of a loose affiliation in which they and their favorite monument have all the fame but they somehow know my name. Still, we’re intending to enjoy all of this, including being called a famous author. Dream come true!
Aaannyyway, we would love to see you there if you’ll be anywhere nearby on that date. The event will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. There will also be a farmers market, so you will be able to buy veggie-type things, including apples, squashes, and possibly cider, plus baked goods, locally made breads and cheeses, and more. Henges will be made! Selfies will be taken! Costumes are encouraged! And somewhere in there I am to give a presentation about Stonehenge and Clonehenge, but don’t let that scare you off.
On the other hand, if you want to bring your family’s Stonehenge replica and show it to me, I’m fine with that! Or just come over to say hi and shake my hand. (If you’re dressed as a witch or a druid, I will want a selfie with you.) Heck, I’ll sign things if you want. Ask me questions about Stonehenge and watch me look vaguely embarrassed and do a quick search on my phone. If you have a question about a particular stone at Stonehenge, I know just who to refer you to! So there’s that.
We’re looking forward to it. If it’s a success, we may have a bigger one next year. We’ll do a follow-up post here after the fact. Many thanks to Liz Wyant, Austin James, Lori Bernardo, Eric Ferguson, Bryan Youpa, Clear Spring Farms, who are providing the hay, and Baarda Farms, who are providing many of the veggies for the henging!
We are now, in our official capacity as Clonehenge, declaring the 21st of September as International Henging Day! Wherever you are, make a henge out of any material you want. Turn your back on the news for a while, and do something ridiculous. Send us a picture if you want! That’s email@example.com .
So to all of you out there in Internet Land, we wish you some very happy henging, and a great autumn! Despite how everything seems, it’s a great world to be alive in.
*It will be almost equinox, and at equinox in the town of Nazareth, the rising sun shines right down Center Street to the circle where the even will be held, so it’s all perfect! Nazareth-henge!
We have mentioned that Indonesia seems to have a thing for Stonehenges. We know there are at least 3. A couple years ago we posted the most famous one: the one at Yogyakarta in the shadow of the volcano called Merapi. The one in our post today is less than a 2 hour drive away! We hope to bring you yet another Indonesian one soon, on the island of Sumatra, but for now let’s have a look at this Stonehenge in the Javanese park called Celosia Happy and Fun. Of the many attractions at this new amusement park, Stonehenge seems to be among the most popular, especially for selfies.
But there are many other very happy and fun things at this park: rides, costumes to wear, Teletubbies to pose with, a hobbit house, an Eiffel Tower, flower gardens, dancing to watch and much more. It takes a lot to live up to a name like Celosia Happy and Fun, but they are certainly making the effort here!
It strikes us, looking at Stonehenge replicas worldwide, that this attitude toward Stonehenges as being something happy and fun is largely an Asian thing. Except for obviously silly ones like Carhenge in Nebraska, rarely do we see as many joyous smiling selfies at replicas elsewhere. Moods can get kind of serious and witchy in photos taken at some of the European ones and those in the States, but in many of the Indonesian, Thai, Malaysian, and Chinese Stonehenge selfies we see real joy. That may be why we see the most rapid proliferation of Stonehenges happening in that part of the world.
We don’t know anything about whose idea this small and handsome Stonehenge was, what it is made of, or what inspired its creation in the first place. It just adds to the intrigue of how Stonehenge gets chosen again and again as something that will draw people, something that people around the world want and will visit even in replica form. Has the advent of the selfie been a driver of the increase in Stonehenges? Why aren’t Ph.D candidates flocking to explore this??
At very few Stonehenge replicas can you do this!
When we add all the Stonehenge replicas we have learned of recently our list of large permanent replicas will go over 100! If we ever get around to adding all of them, we should say. And that’s not counting questionable ones like modern trilithons that have recently been erected in Japan and the Czech republic.
We are in the situation in our personal life of having, as they say, irons in too many very different fires right now, and as a result the Clonehenge blog has been sorely neglected. Our apologies! Meanwhile it seems to be more relevant than ever as the replica numbers mount. You know, it’s strange: when we ask for apprentices no one seems to be interested in doing hours and hours of work with no hope of ever making any money. Where, oh where are the foolish idealists of old? 😉
Foolishness, in our—well, maybe not as humble as it should be—opinion, is criminally underrated! As you no doubt have noticed, the fact does nothing to scare us off from our trademark foolishness. It’s too late to stop now!
We hope to bring you more from our list of as yet unlisted large permanent replicas, but who knows? We have been undependable about posting, monumentally so, one might say. haha Until we do post again, Gentle Readers, we wish you a happy equinox season and, as always, happy henging!
From @EH_Stonehenge on Twitter:
“No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you, there are two monuments at Stonehenge today. One is a giant cake fit for 2,500 hungry guests! #SH100
Look at this! (And yes, we include the obvious rain in that demand.) Look at the lichen on those lintels! Look at the shapes of those stones, including the little bumps and creases! The three-lintel stretch and Stone #56! This has to be the most accurate Stonehenge cake ever (and we’ve heard it includes spiced apple and blackberry cream, or similar. We will look into this and report back with corrections to that crucial information). And there it is, with Stonehenge in the background! *sigh* Perfection.
Not far away, at the Visitor Centre, Jeremy Deller’s inflatable bouncy Stonehenge is inflated and ready for bouncing. What a day for Stonehenge and English Heritage, yes, but more importantly, what a day for Stonehenge replicas! How we wish we were there, gentle readers.
Still, we are a humble blog about Stonehenge replicas, sitting safely in the warm and dry an ocean away from the festivities and for now we are enjoying the clonehenges associated with this celebration! Congratulations to all, including everyone at English Heritage, and may Stonehenge continue to reign in the hearts and minds of people around the world!
(And inspire them to build more and better models of it!)
We are finally posting our interview with historian Brian Edwards, Visiting Research Fellow at University of the West of England, Bristol. Even if he were connected with Clonehenge in no other way, the fabulous Stonehenge replica above would cement his fame on this blog! We have never seen one with this level of detail: the bus, the Visitor Centre, the ice cream truck (!), little replicas of replica round houses (we always love little metas!), Stonehenge landscape mounds, and much more, including the bustard we saw when we were hosted at Stonehenge by Mr. Edwards three years ago, and, underneath, the much-dreaded tunnel! This Stonehenge replica is absolutely brilliant.
But there is more to this gentleman than this unique and wonderful replica. He is a historian whose broad area of interest contains within it the phenomenon of Stonehenge replicas and their history—perhaps the only such historian in the world! His article called ‘Mr Toagis’s Stonehenge: An exploration of an uncelebrated benchmark in replica henge monuments to mark the tenth anniversary of Clonehenge’, published in an academic journal, actually mentions us, and once he mentioned Clonehenge on the radio during an interview. Truly a friend of the blog!
That said, we found it advisable, due to the academic style of writing, to append a [tl;dr] at the end of his answer to the first question, for those who find it a bit intimidating. After that, the academic language eases up a bit and you’re on your own. The answers to questions 2 and 5 are particularly good, but if you are interested in Clonehenge and Stonehenge replicas, do read it all. And at the end we’ve posted a link to that Clonehenge mug you’ve all been meaning to buy. Solstice giving time is approaching!
Clonehenge: What do you do, and how does it tie in with Stonehenge replicas?
I am the author of ‘Mr Toagis’s Stonehenge: An exploration of an uncelebrated benchmark in replica henge monuments to mark the tenth anniversary of Clonehenge’ (The Regional Historian, Annual Journal of the Regional History Centre, New Series No 1, 2018, pp. 26-31). Although not central to what I do, Stonehenge replicas offer entertainingly informative examples that illustrate my focus as a Visiting Research Fellow at the Regional History Centre, at the University of the West of England. My field is public history and historiography in relation to monuments. My research involves highlighting and interpreting contemporary and historical impressions of the past in the public domain, in comparison to what academic and professional historians discuss through learned journals and scholarly tomes. Having in excess of a three hundred year history of expressing consciousness of a prehistoric original, Stonehenge replicas highlight that throughout history monuments have been increasingly adopted, interpreted and reproduced in a variety of forms through layer upon layer of lay public interest irrespective of, and sometimes in contrast to, learned analysis and official sanction. Stonehenge replicas are not just fun, they are an important route through which anyone and everyone can join in. Moreover, as ‘Mr Toagis’ illustrates, replicas and their individual and collective histories offer various routes to studying.
[tl;dr: Part of what he studies is the public’s impressions of historic monuments, including Stonehenge. Also, as we said, he mentioned Clonehenge and it’s 10th anniversary in an article he wrote that was published in an academic journal!]
Clonehenge: What and when was the earliest Stonehenge replica you know of?
It is commonly believed that the earliest known Stonehenge replica was produced in 1714 by the great antiquary William Stukeley (1687- 1765): a model of the stones “as is” that he put on display in London in 1751. Between these times a Stonehenge replica in the form of a stage set appeared in a pantomime, and Stukeley advised on a large scale “as was” replica of Stonehenge that was to be erected in nearby Wilton in Wiltshire. However, the earliest replica is potentially an item of very early eighteenth century jewellery, later recorded as being acquired for a royal collection in Europe. If confirmed, it would predate Stukeley’s model by between seven and twelve years. Even that may not be the earliest example in recorded history, and of course for all that is known a replica may have existed in prehistory.
Clonehenge: When did you first get interested in Stonehenge replicas? When and how did you first learn about Clonehenge?
From memory Clonehenge almost immediately started to feature in conversations, it was topically discussed online by Wiltshire based enthusiasts, so I imagine I was aware through archaeological forum chatter quite early on. My personal introduction probably dates to encounters as a child, but I don’t recall any specific examples before the experience of witnessing the original from the A303. This was a typical stimulating encounter as experienced on journeys to and from the West Country for hundreds of years of course. That first time, in my case as a nine or ten year old, stands out because it fosters interest and makes one alert to other potential opportunities. Around the same time, I inherited an old unused sepia postcard of a Stonehenge model ‘in origin’ (early twentieth century San Bride postcard) that had been used as a bookmark inside a 1950s copy of Heyerdahl’s Kon-Tiki Expedition. This was among several books passed on by a friend of my mother, whose sons had reached adulthood and flown the nest. From the same family I received an ostrich egg, a boomerang, and a pair of Indian clubs.
Clonehenge: How many Stonehenge replicas or models do you own?
Anything Stonehenge or Avebury related that I acquire, I tend to donate to a Wiltshire archive or museum sooner rather than later. The only example of a replica still in my possession is a large glass topped coffee table housing a model of Avebury henge, destined for Wiltshire Heritage Museum at some point.
Clonehenge: How many Stonehenge replicas have you made? Would you describe one? We understand English Heritage is in possession of one that was of your making. How did that come about?
Earlier this year I built a replica from cheese puffs in order to photograph easy to follow stages for a competition. This was in connection with the Stonehenge Chubb Centenary Day, a village celebration of Cecil and Mary Chubb donating Stonehenge to the nation and us all one hundred years ago. Obliged to build a further replica for the same competition, but determined to be disqualified, I chose to make a model that was in excess of the size limit of 300 mm diameter. Supplemented by glue and paint, the materials were nearly all from what had been set aside for recycling. The basic idea started to expand as more and more of the contemporary dynamics that surround the original Stonehenge got included, and it grew into a three-tier construction.
The stones, visitors and official coaches formed the top layer, which also included some examples of the homes of some of the residents living on Byway 12, sometimes referred to as ‘The Drove’. A Great Bustard also features, in homage to the actual bird witnessed by the founder of Clonehenge when visiting Stonehenge. Complete with Perspex entrance kiosks and some of the replica huts seen at the actual site, the middle layer was a model of the visitor centre made from medicine boxes and water damaged cocktail sticks. The bottom layer included a replica of the Winterbourne Stoke barrow group, the other flanks featured the visitor centre car and coach parks, and on a corner a Speed-watch volunteer stood amidst road signage of the nearby village of Shrewton, the birthplace of Sir Cecil Chubb.
This section also included the proposed introduction of an A303 road tunnel, posed as a mock battle between skeletons and traffic within the World Heritage site. This idea of a tug-o-war between awakening skellies and the tunnel was prompted in particular by local traffic activists summarising contemporary traffic woes as the ‘living versus the dead’: this was the theme of a paper I presented at a post-medieval archaeology conference earlier in the year (“Slogans coined, songs written, rumours circulated,” … the withdrawal of post-medieval Stonehenge?) and is the basis of a forthcoming publication (The Living and the Dead: Public Engagement with Archaeology and the A303 at Stonehenge).
Clonehenge: Are there any particular things you like to see in a Stonehenge replica? Of those made by others, do you have any favourites?
Outside of competitions and such as predetermined school projects I am not keen on fixed rules, lest any sort of regulation would chicane imagination. Whilst broadly following a trend a replica doesn’t have to contain anything specific and doesn’t have to resemble the original, it merely requires thought and where possible an original idea or element. In my opinion it is counterproductive to adopt a stiff view about accuracy: to do so even in passing in connection with a painting or a model of Stonehenge, isn’t in the best interests of encouragement and so is not doing our collective experience, and therefore knowledge and understanding, any favours.
Among those of us tending to appreciate anything built in replication and model form, there is always an added element of admiration for anything created by lay individuals, with domestic, mundane and recycled materials, and of course by children. Of those smaller versions I have seen Doe-henge (created for the Stonehenge Chubb Centenary Day) was particularly inspired, but surely we all love the cakes and relate to the food-henges. As regards a full size Stonehenge, my favourite replica is the original, it is not after all a time-honoured ruin but reconstructed with available parts and propped up with concrete.
Clonehenge: What thoughts do you have about the worldwide phenomenon of Stonehenge replicas and the fact that so many people spontaneously make Stonehenges? What do you think it says about public perceptions of Stonehenge?
The worldwide phenomenon of Stonehenge replicas illustrates the extent to which people are not only fascinated by the mysteries posed by the original, but seek to join in and enjoy developing tactile ways of experimenting. What this says to me about public perceptions of Stonehenge, is that those that care for and manage the original have no chance whatsoever of keeping up with public ideas, trends and demands, so expensively fixing on and committing to any given interpretation or presentation will inevitably find it outmoded and frustrating to elements of the wider public by the time it is enacted.
Clonehenge: Are there any further points you would like to make in connection with Stonehenge or the replicas? Do you expect them to become more popular in the future?
There will be replicas as long as there are schools and museums that recognise that every new generation can benefit from a fun way of engaging with the prehistoric original.
There you have it, friends—Stonehenge replicas, Clonehenges, if you will, will be always with us, so as long as we at Clonehenge live forever—and we have every reason to believe that we will—there will always be a Clonehenge blog here, mostly not being posted to. We certainly have many new henges to post, and more are appearing all the time. We have at least three more Large Permanent Replicas to do posts about, so we hope to post more soon. To see frequent henges in the meantime, follow us on Twitter and the Facebook Group and/or Page to see more that are popping up everywhere all the time!
As promised, here is the link to where you can buy a Clonehenge mug, a unique gift for your megalith-loving friends!
(If anyone in the UK would prefer the silver-tone rimmed enamel mugs below, much like the ones we gave to friends and people we admire in the UK, leave a message in the comments or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. They are £10.10 per mug, shipping included. Shipping costs make it impractical to sell that model outside Europe.)
And so, until next time, Gentle Readers, we wish you happy Halloween*, joyous Samhain, and of course, happy henging!
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!
Simon Banton and Neil Wiseman ponder their remake of Stonehenge. Photo by Andy Burns.
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.
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.
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.
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]
photos of the parts of the concrete trilithon at rest on Cannings Cross Farm
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.
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!
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!
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!