That day at the Red Lion, photo courtesy of Standing with Stones. We’re in there somewhere.
click on this picture to access the podcast
This post has been a while arriving. Way back in September, Clonehenge once again made the journey across the sea to visit old stones and old friends and meet new people. It felt like a headlong rush at the time, with insufficient sleep and more than sufficient alcohol, but it was also glorious. We would love to give you an account of it, but even our family fell asleep when we showed them the pictures, so we’ll let you off easy.
Since we’ve been home we have suffered some small-ish but distracting health problems, and it has taken us until now to get around to reflecting upon the wonder of it all. But wonderful it was, and among the wonders was the serendipity of having been staying just outside Avebury when there was a meeting planned at the Red Lion pub there, for both those affiliated with our longtime friends at The Heritage Journal and for those who made and those who admire the Standing with Stones film and podcast.
It was a treat to meet Nigel Swift from the Heritage Journal, who gave Clonehenge its first good write-up a long time ago, and a fun follow-up interview later. But we knew next to nothing, we are embarrassed to say, about Michael Bott and Rupert Soskin, who together make up the entity that is Standing with Stones. Very much to our surprise, they exclaimed upon meeting us that they had just mentioned Clonehenge on their podcast two weeks before!
Of course we have since listened to it. That whole episode of the podcast, which happens to be about megaliths around the world, is like all of their podcasts, entertaining and informative. The Clonehenge bit comes right at the end, their Bit of Whimsy. It is a delightful and flattering discussion of Clonehenge, the blog and affiliated bits. Yes, they do say we’re barking mad, and we have no argument with that, but they also call it brilliant—twice, if we recall. We’re still basking in the glow of it!
We are delighted to have met them, and it was also our very good fortune to meet the person they talk about in the segment of this podcast just before the Whimsy, what they call their Stone Head of the Month, but in this case, the Stone Head of All Time, who is founder and head of the Megalithic Portal, editor of the book you must have, The Old Stones, with information and in many cases pictures of over 1000 ancient sites in the British Isles, none other than Andy Burnham, the Megalith Master himself!
We met him. It was a good day. After all, it was due to a small competition or exchange with him in a chat box that used to be on the front page of his Megalithic Portal that Clonehenge was started at all. But that story has been told elsewhere. Among people interested in megaliths, in the U.K. and elsewhere, it is widely acknowledged that the Megalithic Portal has not only broadened horizons but changed lives. It has brought couples and good friends together and is an essential resource for fans of ancient sites around the world. Making Clonehenge possible is the least of its accomplishments.
The temptation now is to start listing all the other wonderful people we met during our trip to that fabled isle. We would love to say how delightful each one was, but the focus of this post, which has already gone on too long, is meant to be the podcast, and tangentially the meet-up, where we also had the great pleasure of the company of friends of the blog Brian Edwards and Simon Banton, and also new friends Hazel and Graham Orriss and their brilliant children.
We are flattered if not flabbergasted to have been mentioned by Standing with Stones. We are fortunate beyond imagining to have made the trip and to have gone inside Stonehenge twice, and to join friends to look for the sources of the bluestones in the Preseli Hills of western Wales. All of you who make Stonehenge replicas of every size and material have made this possible for us! We thank you.
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!
It has happened. As you knew it would. You knew that we were luring you in, posting without any attempt to get your money for almost ten years, just to give you a false sense of security. And now that you have taken the bait, we are setting the hook with this unimaginably deluxe item: an ordinary white mug with a poorly-designed Clonehenge-ish logo on it and a tacky clonehenge.com printed along the bottom! Feel you must have one? Click on this.
Another glorious view!
It isn’t as if we have thought this through. We make so little on each mug that we are actually completely indifferent as to whether or not you buy one. The advert copy reads:
“Not only are they overpriced, but once you receive them they turn out to just be more stuff you have to deal with!”
Still, you never know. Our original run, which looked a little different, ended up in the hands of luminaries like Simon Banton, Andy Burnham of the Megalithic Portal, Pete Glastonbury, David Dawson of the Wiltshire Museum, Nigel Swift of the Heritage Journal, and Stonehenge scholar Michael Parker Pearson!* Now you, like them, can own a Clonehenge mug! And wonder, as they no doubt have, where on Earth to put it once you have it. Convinced? The mugs, as we said, are available at this link.
So there you go. We have done a post about a thing that has our logo on it and is being sold. Apparently, judging by the sales site, which offers other items with our logo automatically, you can also buy phone skins that, since phones are too narrow for the whole logo, just say ONEHEN! Even Michael Parker Pearson doesn’t have one of those! (Perfect for that person who has only a single chicken! 🐓)
Buy, buy, buy! Spend, spend, spend! Or don’t. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
But until next time, friends, when we will post something more in keeping with our usual nonsense, we wish you 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!
We would love to know!* But for now we just know that this Stonehenge exists in Dalat, in Vietnam’s central highlands, and it is on the grounds of a park that was created because of gorgeous waterfalls there.
We do know that, although the stone shapes are way off, there is a three-lintel stretch and the inner trilithons are taller than the outer circle. So bravo to someone! A few things right is better than none. And it is another for our list of Large Permanent Replicas, which is now up to 90, and could soon be 91, pending information on a Stonehenge sculpture in Kansas.
What makes someone build a Stonehenge replica in a park in Vietnam? That is just part of the mystery that keeps us in a state of wonder here at Clonehenge headquarters!
We have more posts coming up for you. One is about a Stonehenge replica in Magdeburg Germany, built by a man who is enthusiastic about Scottish culture. We have seen a picture of him wearing a kilt and standing inside his Stonehenge. So that’s fun, isn’t it?
And we have another long-ish interview post, this time with a historian who has a unique perspective on Stonehenge and the proliferation of Stonehenge replicas.
In the meantime, follow @Clonehenge on Twitter, or join the Facebook group or page to keep up with frequent postings of henges large and small, or to send us henge photos of your own!
And until next time, Gentle Readers, thank you and happy henging!
*If you have any information on this henge, please comment below or send it to nancy at clonehenge.com .
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.