Alabama’s Stonehenge: “When the Aliens Land, They’re Going to be Confused”!

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Bamahenge, photo by Dennis Church, use according to Creative Commons license 2.0

“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!

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The T-Rex, from the Elberta Dinosaurs FB page

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!

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And until we meet here again, dear readers, we wish you, too, some very happy henging!

 

 

 

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

Photo copyright Dennis Kotzian, used with permission

 

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

Stonehenge in Magdeburg

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

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

There is so much to unpack here.

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

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

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

Copyright Dennis Kotzian, used with permission

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stonehenge at the Bao Dai Waterfall Park, Our First in Vietnam! (But y tho?)

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Photo by Attila Kovácsics, used with permission.

To be honest, we don’t know much about it.

When was it built?

Why was it built?

Who built it?

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 .

Transatlantic Coalition of Stonehenge Experts Builds Stonehenge with Toy Blocks!

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

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Actual plan of Stonehenge to compare

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo by Brian Edwards.

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

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

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

 

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

Stonehenge Merapi, photo by rovi tavare

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BEST STONEHENGE REPLICA EVER: Built Near Stonehenge by Hollywood!

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Transformers 5 Stonehenge replica, photo by Rose Senior

This is it—the new standard for hengers everywhere! It is only a partial replica, but the part they did build captures the feel of the real—the right size, shapes, proportions, placement, colours, indentations, markings. Attention was paid to the real thing.

We don’t know what it’s made of or who made it, but we do know the why. It was created for scenes in the fifth and latest movie in the Transformers franchise, a film series based on, well, toys, not to put too fine a point on it. We laugh, but the Transformers series of movies is the: “4th highest-grossing when averaged to gross per film, behind the The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Pirates of the Caribbean film series.” So says Wikipedia. Big movie stars including Anthony Hopkins, Mark Wahlberg, and Stanley Tucci will be in this film. In fact, the first two were in Wiltshire this past week filming at Stonehenge and at the replica, and possibly at a rumoured secret second replica (!!!).

There is money behind this film. Big money. It is safe to say that this is the most expensive Stonehenge replica ever created. And we must say, we are impressed with what money can do! Brilliant work has been done in shaping, placing, and colouring these ‘stones’. They are so well done that even as respected an institution as the Daily Mail briefly published an article with pictures of it that claimed it was the real Stonehenge.

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This picture’s caption in the Daily Mail read: “The replica was so realistic it led many to claim the original structure had in fact been used by the filmmakers.” (And that ‘many’ seem to have been writers for the Mail.)

The figure standing in the above picture is Anthony Hopkins. We don’t often get to see celebrities at Stonehenge replicas, so we just wanted to point this out. This is henging at a whole other level.

Making false things appear real is what Hollywood excels at. In this case, how did they do it? There is a lot we don’t know, but the marvelous Rose Senior captured a bit of the magic and is kindly willing to share it with readers of the Clonehenge blog. The following photos show fake lichen being applied to the replica stones, and in one we see pictures of the lichen on the real stones, used as guidance for the ‘painters’ of the false ones.

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‘Lichen’ being applied to the ‘stones’. Photo by Rose Senior.

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Pictures of the real stones being used to guide one of the painters of the replica stones. Photo by Rose Senior.

Rose tells us that when the paint was being thrown at the stones, it made a hollow sound. It isn’t surprising that the stones were hollow, but the question of the material involved remain tantalisingly unanswered. The hollowness of these stones, which were just by Bilbury Rings Hillfort off the A303, also brings us back to rumours of a second and mysterious Stonehenge replica, secreted somewhere in the Wiltshire countryside. Hollow stones might not be ideal to use if you want a good scene of Stonehenge being blown up (and blowing things up is another thing Hollywood and in particular this film series is known for), so might the rumoured secret replica be solid and possibly smaller, built solely for blowing up and exploding the stones in a visually satisfying manner? That is our guess.

If anyone has further information (or photos!) on the rumoured replica or on the materials and creators of the known one, please tell us and we will add the information to this post. There are so many things our inquiring minds want to know! It is exciting to have Hollywood with its famous people and huge quantities of money walk right into our wheelhouse, so to speak.

Once again we are left to marvel at how many walks of life a fascination with Stonehenge replicas can draw one into. Science, religion, art, foods, politics, movies—Stonehenge replicas are built in connection with all these topics and more. Not to mention little toy cars that can change into monsters!

And with that profound philosophical note, we wish you all, friends, some very happy henging!

P.S.: Our thanks to Rose Senior, Tim Daw, Simon Banton, and @Fromegooner for help with this post!

Happy Solstice! A Long Post for the Longest Day!

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The famous Britton “Celtic” Cabinet at the Wiltshire Museum in Devizes

Greetings and a very happy solstice to all of you out there in the increasingly strange world of now! We know that people generally don’t find time to read blog posts anymore, what with one apocalypse or another looming at any given moment, but in a contrary spirit we have decided to write a longer one than usual. But with pictures, so there’s that!

As some of you may know, a little over a year ago, the entire staff of the Clonehenge blog flew over the sea to the centre of henging contagion, that hulking grey pile of construction debris on Salisbury Plain, Stonehenge itself. We posted in October about the unabashed promotion of Stonehenge replicas we discovered at the shop in the Stonehenge Visitor Centre, but we have yet to share our other extraordinary encounters with replicas shown us by friends of the Clonehenge blog in the area.

The first of these was a huge concrete trilithon, currently being stored at the farm of Mr. Tim Daw  whose name may be familiar to Stonehenge fans as a result of theories and discoveries he made while employed at Stonehenge. He is also known for his remarkable construction, the Long Barrow at Al Cannings. He kindly treated us to a tour of that beautiful modern long barrow, and then, knowing our interests, led us through chalk mud, a remarkably clingy substance, to the three pieces of the trilithon, currently not set up as a trilithon but in repose. The two uprights, we are told, weigh 40 Tonnes each and the lintel 10 and a half!

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concrete trilithon in the Vale of Pewsy (the markings are not tribal, 😉  but were painted there for visibility on the lorry journey to where they now rest)

These “stones” were used in the 1996 BBC documentary Secrets of Lost Empires: Stonehenge to to represent the stones of Stonehenge’s largest trilithon, in an attempt to demonstrate how those and the other large stones at Stonehenge may have been moved. We assume their length includes the section that in the original stones extended underground to keep them steady and upright. Pictures on this page show their size better than our poor picture above. They are imposing in person, even lying down. Mr. Daw and others are hoping to use them again to test various Stone-Age-appropriate methods for transporting and erecting megaliths, for a programme on how Stonehenge may have been constructed. We look forward to that!

For the next couple days of our trip, we enjoyed the wonders of Wiltshire, its landscape, and many ancient stones and sites (including Stonehenge in the pouring rain, a quintessentially British experience not to be missed unless you have the opportunity to see it in any other weather!). Those days were overwhelmingly beautiful and fascinating, and we extend our thanks to many people for going out of their ways to make it so.

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West Kennet Long Barrow with Terence Meaden, who was kind enough to accompany us there and share his knowledge

And then, on our final day in that county, probably still bearing chalk mud in the treads of our shoes, we visited the Wiltshire Museum in the town of Devizes in the company of long-time friend of the blog Pete Glastonbury. There, to our astonishment, we were greeted by people who already knew of the name of Clonehenge, and who were therefore willing to reveal to us deeply secret Stonehenge models  hidden from the prying eyes of the general public! (Or, yes, possibly just Stonehenge models that would be of absolutely no interest to anyone one but us, but let us have our fantasies.)

After a few minutes surveying small Stonehenge models available in the museum shop, we were introduced to none other than Director David Dawson and led upstairs to view the wonderful Britton Cabinet whose picture adorns the top of this post. We posted about it on this blog years ago, with photos by Mr. Glastonbury, but it was another thing to see it in person! If we described it in detail, this post would be insufferably long (like it is already, only more so), but as it says on this page, “Integral to the design of the cabinet are three models of Stonehenge and Avebury made by Henry Browne.” We are not ashamed to say that we were moved to see in person some of the historical Stonehenge models made by Mr. Henry Browne himself. Browne’s models were, as far as we can tell, the first Stonehenge models to become popular enough to create a demand. The sale of small Stonehenges that we see today in such profusion probably started with him!

A drawer of the cabinet was opened for us, and protective covering carefully lifted from a model so that we might see it. Unlike the model under coloured glass atop the cabinet, which is meant to show the monument as it now stands, this one represents Stonehenge as it is thought to have looked before the destructive forces of time acted upon it.

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in the drawer, a Henry Browne model

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model of Avebury in a drawer of the cabinet, overseen by Pete Glastonbury

When we had finished looking at and photographing the cabinet and its contents, Mr. Dawson then kindly brought out two more Stonehenge models: a resin one made by Michael Postins, who made the ‘template’ for models sold by English Heritage for tourists,

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resin model by Michael Postins, here held by Director Dawson

and a smaller metal one with various military badges, a bit eccentric, which, of course, appeals to us. No history is known for this, but it’s a nice portrayal with stones that look a bit organic, as if they were about to come to life.

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There is much more to the museum, of course, including fascinating and beautiful artefacts from Wiltshire, some found at and near Stonehenge and thought to have belonged to the ancient people who built it and celebrated there. If you’re visiting Stonehenge and want more of its story, you should make a point to stop at the Wiltshire Museum.

We had many more adventures worth telling, and saw more Stonehenge and Avebury models on our trip. But solstice awaits, and the long journey toward shorter days. If you have read this far, we thank you for your time. There truly is a wonderful world of Stonehenge replicas out there, and wonderful people who make them or are fascinated by them. Until next time, friends, happy henging!