More Views of a Museum Stone

photos by Gary of @Avebury_News, the guide coordinator at Avebury NT, used with permission

This is just a small supplement to our post of February 11, More Old Film: Model of an Avebury Stone. Friend of the blog, Gary of @Avebury_News on Twitter, posted these photos of the stone we featured in that post. The photos in the last post were taken in 1955. These were taken fifty-five years later.

This now venerable display has educated generations of children and adults. As @Avebury_News said, “The model depicts how they believe the Avebury, and I guess Stonehenge, stones were potted.” By which we suppose he means set in the ground.

It is fascinating to see that, while the supporting poles do seem to have been moved, and the little antler replicas have disappeared, it looks as if the twine or string remains exactly as it was fifty-five years ago! You may well say, Why not?, but it seems to us somehow remarkable and wonderful, this sturdy stone somehow chosen to be a teacher while its fellows stay out on the landscape ignored, and this twine, probably wrapped in a moment or two by a museum worker, still just as it was.

The whole thing plays in to the timelessness of the larger site around it. We’re charmed! The stone was no doubt chosen to represent the lozenge-shaped stones, thought perhaps to represent the feminine principle. And there behind it is the beautiful, mystical (at least to us) Silbury Hill, like the umbilicus some believe it to have represented.

[This display can be found in the Stables Gallery of the Alexander Keiller Museum in Avebury, Wiltshire, UK, home of the largest stone circle in the world. In case you just stumbled on us now. (Do try to keep up!)]

And to all of our readers, happy henging!


More Old Film: Model of an Avebury Stone

photos and film link sent us by Pete Glastonbury, used with permission

Apparently posting about Stonehenge replicas is, well, just not obscure and geeky enough for us. Otherwise why would we be so delighted to bring you this odd trifle–a film from 1955, narrated by well-known British writer and television personality John Betjeman, that includes, for a few seconds, the above model showing how the  stones of the Avebury monument may have been erected? [for those who don’t know about Avebury, see here.]

We’ve posted some other Avebury models. That all started because someone mentioned and we concurred that Avebury is so much larger and impressive than Stonehenge yet there didn’t appear to be any Avebury replicas. Friend of the blog and well-known ancient sites photographer Pete Glastonbury proceeded to come up with not one but several small Avebury models and we couldn’t resist posting them.

This is very much the same story, except this time the only record we have of the model is this film, from about 2:08 to 2:18, minutes and seconds in. Then it goes on to the beakers of the Beaker Culture who are thought to have built Avebury and much of Stonehenge. That, like the rest of the film, is worth a look, of course, but our focus is on those ten seconds showing the model from the museum in Avebury (no doubt the one we know as the Alexander Keiller Museum–we’ve posted models from them before).

Among the things we enjoyed in the film are the certainty about the purpose of Avebury–burial, and about how the stones were erected–with poles and rawhide ropes.  We’re accustomed to much more speculation about these things now. And then there’s this sentence “What makes Avebury so strange is its sinister atmosphere.” Not everyone would agree about that, judging from accounts we’ve heard and from our own visit. Sinister is not a word we would use for the broad sunny expanse we encountered those many years ago!

First broadcast on 23 September 1955, this was the first of twenty six in the series Discovering Britain. We’re not sure whether the others are available. No score for this little stone model. It’s just to enjoy.

We’re starting to think we like this film theme and may just keep it up, on and off for a while as the Academy Awards ceremony approaches. A surprising number of films, better known than this one, featured Stonehenge or its likeness, and since most could not film at the real thing, replicas were made. Try to think of a few more films with Stonehenge-ish things in them, and see if we come up with the same list.

Until we meet again, Happy henging!

[Note: we’re told, by @Avebury_News on Twitter, that this model is still in the stables museum.]