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!
The clonehenge of this post is a large stone circle with lintels. There are trilithons and photos we’ve seen lead us to suspect that there may be a stretch of three uprights with two lintels shared among them, something we like to see, but we haven’t been able to verify it.
Here’s what we know: Popovaka, along the most beautiful beach on the Crimean peninsula was for years host to a huge and wild electronica festival called KaZantip, or Z-City. It drew the rich and young and fit of Russia and surrounding areas. At first it was held in a partially built nuclear power station, never completed because of Chernobyl. It outgrew that and took over the beaches.
The KaZantip Festival claimed to be a nation of its own with “viZas” and guards around it. Slender young women in scanty bikinis were encouraged to attend. Decorated orange or yellow suitcases had some place in it (?). The yachts of the rich could be seen moored further down the beach. Drugs of various kinds seem to have been involved. (The well-known quotation of former U.S. President Lincoln applies here: “People who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like.”) The festival has since moved on to other venues. As far as we can ascertain the 2020 festival will be held in Kemer, Turkey. But we digress.
The point of all this is that smaller electronica festivals linger on in Popovka and trippy, trendy things and people still show up there. And as we have learned and as is evidenced by celebrations like Burning Man, wherever the minds of people ignite and burn, Stonehenges arise like mushrooms. You see one result above.
Search стоунхендж (Stonehenge) and Поповка (Popovka) and you may find more photos of this modern monument. It is a massive, impressive structure.
Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find out any more about it. Who built it and how, why someone decided to build it, and exactly when it was built, all of these are mysteries. The earliest photos we’ve seen of it date to 2017, three years after the big festival left that spot for bigger venues. If I learn more, I will post updates on this page and on the Clonehenge Facebook group.
Until then, take time to relish the wonder of a Stonehenge built on the most beautiful beach in Crimea, playground of the rich and beautiful. We keep finding more of these Stonehenge-ish creations around the world (many more posts yet to come!), and, yes, it makes us laugh, but it has also been making us stop and say, “That’s funny.” It’s become such a pervasive phenomenon that we hardly know what to make of it. For now we’ll just keep finding and reporting them. We still have a little time to accumulate data before the world ends and we have to draw any conclusions!
Find us on the Clonehenge Facebook group: Clonehenge: Stonehenge Replicas Unleashed, on the Clonehenge Facebook page, or on the Clonehenge Twitter account. Generally the Facebook group has the most activity. Find new henges (but be aware: we know just about every one in the wide world), take pictures of the old ones and post them, or make and post your own. We are what you’re looking for to distract you from the impending apocalyptic dystopia! When you need us, we’ll be here.
And until then or until next time, friends, we wish you some very 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!
Durrington Stonehenge, photo and henge by Rhys Bliszko
Here is the latest update on the small Stonehenge being built outside the Stonehenge Inn in Durrington, Wiltshire. Daniel King of the Stonehenge Inn commissioned Bliszko Studio to sculpt and erect the Stonehenge replica because many tourists who visited Stonehenge complained about not being allowed to get close to Stonehenge or touch the stones.
“But people will be allowed to climb all over mine if they want,” King said. “It might be a bit smaller and not quite as old but at least you can get up close.”
We will no doubt post about about this again when it has been completed. We just felt it was time to applaud the work being done by artist Rhys Bliszko of Bliszko Studio !
Rumor has it the whole thing will light up at night. We can’t wait to see! Meanwhile it’s a great place to get a picture of a friend or yourself sitting on a trilithon.
And yes, we know we still have to post about the curious matter of Indonesia and its five Stonehenge replicas. We’re either just lazy or we’re trying to whet your appetite for it. You decide! 😉
Kavishaila in Kuppalli, Bangalore, India: photo by @nikhilvshetty on Instagram.
This one is lovely.
It is rare to run across a replica that is built for reasons that are truly moving, but this is one. Kuvempu, the poet playwright and novelist in whose honour it was built (portrayed in a Google doodle on the anniversary of his birth in 2017*) when he died in 1994, was and is truly beloved by many speakers of the Kannada language in which he wrote, especially those who love the natural world and high-minded philosophy. Wikipedia says of this monument:
“Kavishaila is a rock monument made of megalithic rocks and dedicated to Kuvempu. It is on the top of a small hill in Kuppalli. Arranged in a circular fashion, the rocks have been placed to resemble the Stonehenge in England. At the centre of this rock monument is the place where Kuvempu was laid to rest after his death and a memorial has been constructed at that location. Near this monument, is a small rock where Kuvempu used to sit and discuss about literature and other topics with his other literature friends.”
The view from this high place is said to be breathtaking, green forest stretched out below with a view to the hills. It is recommended to be there at sunset when, as you see in the picture above, on a clear evening the light streams through the trilithons onto the place where the poet was laid to rest.
We know of many monuments and sculptures that resemble Stonehenge around the world, but that we hesitate to post here because we are not certain they were built with Stonehenge in mind. In this case, however, there seems to be no doubt. We don’t know what the connection is that inspired someone to erect a Stonehenge in this man’s honour (and perhaps we could discover that if we could read his language), but maybe it was just that the mystery and beauty and sense of something truly great that Stonehenge represents to so many people is the same feeling that the writings of this poet and thinker inspire in people.
Yes, as far as form goes, it is only a partial circle of straight-sided stone trilithons. But as with the beautiful partial Stonehenge in the far north of the Galician section of Spain placed high and looking out to sea to honour those who died at the hands of the brutal Franco regime, its meaning helps it to transcend its form. If we were still awarding our (humourously meant! Yes, we know they had nothing to do with it.) druid scores, this would get a solid 8 druids. A thing of beauty.
Before we finish talking about it, here is a fun addition. Looking through Instagram one day, as you do, we found an image of a replica of this replica. If you know us, you know we love the meta quality of that. Here it is, built for a display at the Lalbagh Botanical Garden in Bengaluru, India. It also speaks to how well known Kavashaila is in India.
Our thanks to friend Barry Teague for making us aware of this memorial, and to Nikhil V. Shetty for kind permission to use his lovely photograph here.
Oh, wait! We almost forgot to mention, Clonehenge was mentioned in the Guardian newspaper this week! We got a mention and a link in the thoughtful and many-faceted article about the Stonehenge tunnel dilemma, The Battle for the Future of Stonehenge, by Charlotte Higgins. Truly a privilege and a little moment of fame for this humble blogger. Many thanks to you, Ms. Higgins, and to whatever little bird may have whispered our name in your ear!
And so until next time, Gentle Readers, once again we wish you happy henging!
*The Kuvempu Google doodle, in which he appears to be seated at the site where Kavishaila was built:
“As it is, I’m probably the only man in history to build two full-size replicas of Stonehenge,” says Cline. “And to think it took the Neolithic people 1,500 years just to build one.” —from the article “How Stonehenge Replicas Became The World’s First Meme,” by Jed Oelbaum.
“You know, I’ve got some more plans for doing more structures in southern Alabama. Let’s put it this way, when the aliens land, they’re going to be really surprised and confused. That’s all I’m going to say.” —Mark Cline quoted on this site, by Brian Kelly.
Anyone who knows Clonehenge by now will know by these two quotations that we must be great fans of Mr. Mark Cline, and indeed we are! In the early days of the blog we were in touch with him by email several times, about his first replica, Virginia’s Foamhenge. We enjoyed his intelligence, enthusiasm, and humour. And, well, sheer wackiness!
Why it has taken us years to do an entire post about his fantastic fibreglass Stonehenge in the state of Alabama is difficult to understand. The truth is, we had forgotten that we had only posted about it on Facebook and Twitter and not here on the blog itself (except, of course, for listing it on the list of Large Permanent Replicas). Today at last we rectify that situation.
This replica was commissioned by George Barber, who is, among a number of other things, owner of a marina in Elberta, Alabama. It is impressive, but one could argue that, because the stones are more uniform in shape, this is not as fine a replica as was Foamhenge. There are no bluestones, either, no ditch and bank, no extra or outlier stones. But—this henge goes one better. In the woods all around it, there are dinosaurs! The addition may not make a more perfect replica for the Stonehenge perfectionist, if there is such a thing, but in the eyes of Clonehenge, this rockets it into the rarified stratosphere of The Greats! A much better choice than Easter Island heads!
As Atlas Obscura puts it on its Bamahenge post:
“Cline’s work is big, typified by the dinosaurs that dot the landscape around his Virginia studio. It was these sculptures that caught the eye of Alabama billionaire George Barber, who wanted some dinosaurs for himself. He had Cline install four—a brontosaurus, a T-Rex, a stegosaurus and a triceratops—along the edge of the woods near Barber Marina in Elberta. Barber was so happy with the ginormous creatures, he commissioned Cline to create a replica Stonehenge for the marina property, reminiscent of the “Foamhenge” that Cline built in Virginia in 2004.”
The whole thing has become quite an attraction in Alabama, with the only complaint being that it is somewhat difficult to find. Meanwhile, in the article by Jed Oelbaum that we quoted from above (and in which we figure prominently, so be sure to read it! 😉 ), Cline hinted at yet another Stonehenge replica commission that may come from George Barber. Owning two full-sized Stonehenges may never have been done before. Surely making three has not. Stay tuned for any news on that!
We leave you with this smattering of photos from a “Bamahenge” Google search. That’s Mark Cline in the third down on the left! He is truly a Clonehenge hero, contributing with humour, style, and a very American taste, to the Clonehenge epidemic. May he have joy, health, and prosperity as he henges!
And until we meet here again, dear readers, we wish you, too, some very 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!