Rugby Stonehenge? Hanazono Rugby Stadium, Osaka, Japan!

Stonehenge at Osaka, photo by @T0m0yeab0ii on Instagram

Japan has its share of large Stonehenges. We have posted the impressive one at the Gunma Observatory and the glorious one (with Buddhist shrine inside and a line of moai nearby!!!) at Makomanai Takino Cemetery in Sapporo. Here is yet another one, large and handsome, at Hanazono Rugby Stadium in Osaka. We’re guessing the thinking went: “Rugby is English, and what else is English? Stonehenge! We’ll build a Stonehenge!”

At any rate, the construction is suitably rugged in style to match the game. It isn’t a full Stonehenge like the others in Japan, but a bit abstract with several solid trilithons. For the Clonehenge connoisseur it is reminiscent of the exceptional Stonehenge in Odessa, Texas. In one article the Daily Mail captioned their photo with the curious words “Stonehenge-like objects”.

We would love to know more, though. Whose idea was this? What was their thinking? Who designed it? Who built it? Where did the stone come from and what kind is it? Is there a plaque or some kind of dedication? If anyone can give us answers, we would be grateful.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kintetsu_Hanazono_rugby_stadium_Entrance_2018.jpg photo of Hanazono stadium from Wikipedia, showing a section of the Stonehenge-ish things

In the 12 years we’ve been doing this blog, many new Stonehenges have appeared. We think the form’s popularity is due at least partly to the satisfaction of visiting a sculpture or construction that offers familiarity, simplicity, large size, and the pleasure of being able to interact with it, to actually walk through it. Add the hint of the ancient and of mystery that is associated with even the idea of Stonehenge and you have an attraction that many people will be eager to visit.

It has been suggested that a Stonehenge much like the real one be built near the original Stonehenge, to offer visitors the full experience of the stones without further threatening the ancient monument itself, many aspects of which, despite its rugged appearance, are fragile. As we are among those who have seen firsthand the damage created at Avebury and West Kennet Long Barrow by public free access there, we have to agree that a close imitation offering the spacial and tactile experience of the stone circle would in the long run serve the public well.

Future generations would appreciate the preservation of the original and current generations would benefit by the extraordinary experience of walking freely in the circle, feeling the extraordinary ambience the stones create just by their form, size, and positioning. Even better might be two imitation Stonehenges with access, one as the monument stands now and one how it is envisioned to have been if and when it was completed.

But that’s far afield from Hanazono! Blood, sweat and rugby! And Stonehenge! A winning combination.

And until next time, friends, happy henging!

Mentioned in the “Cabinet of Curiosities”!

John Britton’s Celtic Cabinet in the Devizes Museum, mentioned in Steadman’s blog post
photo is our own


Hello! We are here to say that we are honored to have been mentioned in the Cabinet of Curiosities blog, written by Philip Steadman, esteemed author, researcher, and emeritus professor. His Clonehenge post is not just about Clonehenge but about Stonehenge replicas in general with added facts and perspectives. It is a delightful read. Discussing Jeremy Deller’s iconic inflatable Stonehenge entitled “Sacrilege”, Steadman writes: “When inflated the stones erected themselves gradually like waking elephants, and visitors could bounce with abandon on the green ‘turf’.

We tend to think there is very little about Stonehenge replicas that we don’t know. We had not read, however, that the now defunct Fridgehenge in New Mexico “was built by ‘slaves’ in loincloths as a protest against consumer culture and the planned obsolescence of white goods.” And we must have been told this but had forgotten that “It seems that the very first [Stonehenge replica] was at Wilton House in Wiltshire, built in the 18th century, but nothing of this remains.

Of course the best bit in the post is the three words “wonderful Clonehenge blog“. 😉 That alone has inspired us to begin posting here once more. We have many Stonehenges and Stonehenge-ish things in our files that have yet to be posted on this blog and we hope to improve that situation in the weeks to come.

We are off Twitter and Facebook until some time in early November, but we hope to see you here. Until next time, friends, happy henging!

Checking In: What’s Up With Clonehenge and the Replicas?

Wonderful trilithon from Twitter with children in the uprights, holding hands
Garden Stonehenge replica in Poland, made by Jarosław Wiśniewski, see link below
https://skierniewice.naszemiasto.pl/skierniewicka-replika-megalitycznego-stonehenge-zdjecia/ar/c1-7682563

Hello. We have fallen behind on this blog and its maintenance, perhaps irrevocably, so we’re doing a post to say hello and tell you what’s been happening in the topic of Stonehenge replicas.

This used to be a single manageable topic. Combining large permanent replicas, home replicas, small exhibit replicas, and larger temporary Stonehenge replicas didn’t seem like taking on a lot. There just weren’t that many of them, at least not posted online.

But things have taken a turn since then. Numbers have increased in every category. We find large new Stonehenge replicas, large Stonehenge-like circles, large trilithons, including sculptures and fountains, very frequently, all over the world. Stonehenge replicas for advertising and for display or exhibit purposes have become more common, or at least posted more often and therefore easier to find, and the number of at-home replicas and models has gone through the roof.

In the interest of documenting Stonehenge replicas, we still do searches every day, especially on Twitter and Instagram, keeping links to anything interesting in a file on our computer. That list has grown to hundreds of examples, large and small. If we posted all of them on Twitter or our Facebook group or page, people would be overwhelmed and unfollow us en masse. In short, people are making a *lot* of Stonehenges. It’s great, but we can’t keep up.

We still intend to work on and complete the Clonehenge map of permanent replicas around the world, but for now just adding a link for each one instead of trying to include photos and info. Once we have that basic map, then we or other people can improve it over time. Our original ambitions for it are not realistic in light of how much time we currently can spare to do the work.

Lockdown inspired a lot of people to try their hands at Stonehenge replicas, and 95% or more of those were made by people who never heard of Clonehenge. This burgeoning phenomenon has nothing to do with our existence, which makes it all the more curious. Stonehenge is looming larger and larger in the zeitgeist.

This all sounds very serious, but we do still think Stonehenge replicas are funny. We just wanted to take a minute and catch you up with what has been going on. We’re working on learning how to reblog things on Instagram, so we can have a presence there, reblogging every Stonehenge we find every day, with the entire original post. That’s a goal. It’s fascinating what people come up with, from dusty cement block Stonehenges in vacant lots to aesthetic little Stonehenge replicas made to look pretty on Instagram, and all of the usual zany and ingenious versions that seem to come out of nowhere to delight us. We see the most creative and joyful side of people every day.

We’re not sure what the answer is to the problem of overwhelming numbers of replicas, how we can best cover them in the time we have in our lives, which is not a lot. This is a non-paying hobby that is increasingly taking the time you would allot for at least a part-time job. It would be a full-time nonpaying job if we were doing everything we probably should.

Is there a place where we should post every single interesting replica we find? Does anyone out there know what might work? We considered finding people to help with different segments: someone for large replicas, someone for social network replicas, someone to catalogue museum and other exhibit replicas, but a lot of time would be required, for no pay.

We always meant to be thorough and to document everything about this topic that we could, including the history and backstories for important replicas, many of which we know more about than almost anyone. We don’t see a way to do that now, and it’s a shame because it has become a bigger, and so more important, topic than we ever imagined it would be. We’re going to keep brainstorming how best to present the replicas and sometimes the people making them. Unlike in this post we hope to make it entertaining and engaging. We’ll see what develops.

There’s some kind of big psychological thing going on here, making people create these replicas, and it’s our hope that someday someone looks into that. For now, we will continue to observe, and in our private files at least, document what we find. I can’t promise how often we’ll post here on the blog in the time to come, but it costs us a bit of money to maintain so we hope to keep using it. Most Clonehenge activity takes place in the Facebook group and page, and on the Clonehenge Twitter account. Our feed on Twitter overlaps with but is different from the accounts on FB. You can contact us there any time.

We hope you had a happy and uplifting solstice and that the turn of the year brings good things! Thank you for being there and until next time, friends, happy henging!

Making Of: the Super Bowl #MoreTogether Henge!

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One of the great things about the ad we were in was the set. The Stonehenge replica we posed in had to be simple but it was still thoughtful. When we asked about it at the shoot we learned the makers were already gone. But good news! Our contact at the ad agency has gotten us the detailed explanation below from Production Designer Dylan Kahn. This is awesome! Many thanks!

(Markings in brackets in bold are ours and lead to footnotes below.)

Here’s basically how we pulled that thing off ..
I put a few images together that show the process

After I shared a bunch of research images of the real Stonehenge with Megaforce we then went and look at all the Clonehenge stuff together on FB[*] and google we could find.

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Once we decided what we wanted to do , I built a 3d model of the pieces to help the set shop and I determined which shapes I liked best and thought would read easiest

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From there I had the shapes carved in Beadfoam, the sculptors at vision scenery did that for us …using the reference and model as a guide

We then had those approved by MF for size and scale …

Heres a pic of me and the Alicia our Paint / sculpture foreman in front of them that we shared for size. You can see we numbered and then carved each trilithon as close to the model and real shapes as we could…so they were as close to the real thing as possible.

Knowing that they would be seen by not only the Clonehenge FB group people but more importantly[???] an additional 100 million Super Bowl watchers …
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Following approvals from MF i then had them coated in concrete…we used the quick setting stuff that comes in 50lb bags. We troweled that on and kept it as rough as possible.

Once that was dry, I had them put a white wash on some of the stones and then a solid gray each on the others so it looked as though some were not yet dry, as MF wanted the vignette to show the group mixing cement and making them.

All in all they turned out great !
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In the end we donated them to EcoSet and im sure they’re still there as they’re pretty specific not really recyclable.

I’m glad we had the chance to make something so fun and couldnt have done it without Vision Scenery, Alicia and Raymundo there!
So stoked to work With MF and Wieden to make something that challenged us all in so many ways

I hope this helps explain how we did that
Thanks
Dylan

Notes: MF above stands for Megaforce. Wieden is Wieden and Kennedy, the ad agency responsible for making the ad.
Our own footnotes:
[*] Yay!
[???] Say what????

There it is. We wouldn’t be Clonehenge if we weren’t curious to learn how replicas are made. This process was fascinating to us. As to the thinking behind including us in the first place, that of course remains an utter mystery!

Our thanks to Maureen Doyle (for many things!) and Jewel Estephanos for getting us this information. And to everyone who had anything to do with the creation of the ad, especially all of the lovely people we met and were in touch with during the process.

Who knows what will happen with Clonehenge next! But until next time, friends, happy henging!

Clonehenge in the Spotlight: do we indeed want to rock?

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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!

*photoshopping suspected

Find us:
the (now famous?) Facebook group
the Twitter

Moai Coffee, Thailand: We Have SO Many Questions!

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!

Popovka, Crimea: Stonehenge on the Beach!

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!

We hope.

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!

Stonehenge at Celosia Happy and Fun, Java, Indonesia!

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Stonehenge at Celosia Happy and Fun, photo by @dw_list93 on Instagram

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??

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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!

Find us on the FB group, Clonehenge: Stonehenge Replicas Unleashed, on the Clonehenge FB page, and/or our Twitter account.

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.

 

The Stonehenge Perspective on Henging, Part 1: Introducing Simon Banton!

Above: Simon Banton at that famous pile of rocks:

You can notice a lot of subtleties about Stonehenge if you spend 6 years looking at it from all angles in all weathers and lighting conditions.”

It may seem to go without saying that the idea of Stonehenge replicas is inextricably tied to Stonehenge, but we’ve been thinking it needs a little more talking about. What do all these Stonehenge replicas look like to people who are actually familiar with Stonehenge?

Well, a peculiar outcome of doing Clonehenge over the years has been the unexpected pleasure of getting to know a number of people who are connected with Stonehenge in one manner or another. Those people have made us aware of aspects of Stonehenge and its landscape that we knew nothing of before we began this blog and our life of folly. That, in turn, has changed what we see and look for in Stonehenge replicas.img_0552

It is in this context we would like to introduce to you Mr. Simon Banton. A few readers may remember him as the fellow who when he found himself at a pub that had children’s toys, made and sent us some Clonehenge art on an Etch-A-Sketch (How do we love this? Let us count the ways!).

But there is a great deal more to him than that, as the photo at the top suggests. He is good natured and deeply knowledgable and has two blogs, The Stones of Stonehenge, with a page devoted to each stone at Stonehenge, and Stonehenge Monument, with information about Stonehenge and the surrounding landscape of the World Heritage Site. We asked him for an interview, and to our delight he agreed. The result is remarkable, if a bit technical in places. We intended to post only a short edit of the interview, but it is so full of information and good thoughts, stories, and ideas that we’ve decided to post most of it, split into two parts, with helpful (we hope) commentary, links, and photos added.

A note to start, because this will come up:

As some will know, there is a commonly agreed-upon numbering system for the stones at Stonehenge. For example, this trilithon, originally part of the outer circle so it would have supported the ends of two more lintels, shows upright stones 4 and 5 plus the lintel, which is 105.
4 5 105(Just ignore the show-off bustard. Apparently bird tourists are permitted inside the circle of the ditch and bank, unlike the rest of us that day. Not fair, but as they say, what is?)
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Stonehenge numbered stone plan by Author ©Anthony Johnson 2008

The plan on the right, showing numbers for each stone, is linked to a larger version. And now, the first part of our interview with Simon:

1) First, for the reader, what has been your involvement with Stonehenge over the years? I understand you worked there. For how long and in what capacity?

I first saw Stonehenge when I went to the very last Stonehenge Free Festival in 1984, before the authorities clamped down on it at the infamous Battle of the Beanfield of 1985 (Google it and watch the YouTube vids). Being in and around the monument had a profound effect on me, at the time I was only 19 years old.

When, in 2000, English Heritage, the Police and Wiltshire Council did away with the 3 mile radius exclusion zone that had been in place at Summer Solstice ever since 1985, I felt compelled to go along to that first “Managed Open Access” event to get back inside the stone circle. That, too, was a transformative experience. It poured with rain all night long and 5000 people were thoroughly soaked by the time dawn arrived, with no sign of the Sunrise.

I’d developed a keen interest in archaeoastronomy in the mid-1990s (I’ve been an amateur astronomer since I was 9 years old) and I was actively researching Egyptian sky-mythology. Stonehenge was the next logical step. By 2010 I’d moved to within 3 miles of Stonehenge and I became an Education Volunteer for English Heritage… Within a couple of months this turned into a job as a member of the Visitor Operations Team, standing on the path next to the stones and getting paid for telling people about the place. I did this for 6 years and loved it – it gave me unprecedented levels of access to the stone circle and allowed me to carry out my own research. You can notice a lot of subtleties about Stonehenge if you spend 6 years looking at it from all angles in all weathers and lighting conditions.

2) How many Stonehenge models or replicas do you own, if any?

I have a bronzed resin cast model of Stones 4, 5 and 105 that is 8″ high and mounted on a plinth that reads “It’s smaller than I imagined”. I helped a local firm with their project to Stonehenge modelcreate these casts as souvenirs to sell in their shop in Amesbury and they gave me a prototype as a thank you. Stone 5 is the one with the large yellow lichen “DI” lettering that’s visible on its eastern face, a remnant of the RADIO CAROLINE graffiti from the 1960s.

I’ve also got a 1′ high x 2′ wide beaten metal and weld sculptural picture of the monument, done by my friend Michelle Topps of Horseshoes4Hounds (https://www.facebook.com/horseshoes4hounds). Both are utterly unique – I don’t go for snowglobes and the like!
Stonehenge weld picture

[Editor’s note: This is Quite a Nice Thing! Also—a reminder to our readers that opinions of  an interviewee are not necessarily the opinions of the interviewer. We love snowglobes and it’s not too late to send us one!]

3) How many ‘clonehenges’ have you made, if any, and what were the materials?

I’ve done one out of bricks (hasn’t everyone?) Teahengebut these bricks were the ones that used to line the edge of the visitor path around the monument, and I acquired them when they were torn up as part of the refurbishing of the path back in 2013. I did once make a trilithon out of snow, which is a whole lot trickier than you’d think, and then there was the 5-minute “boxes-of-herbal-tea-henge”, which was a joint effort with other members of the Stonehenge staff when management somewhat over-ordered one day 🙂

4) What do you find amusing, irritating, or remarkable about Stonehenge models or replicas you’ve seen? Do any in particular stand out, whether as good, bad, funny, or impressive? Do you have a favourite?

I’m always amused by the lengths people will go to to henge things – but I feel vaguely sad when no attempt is made to make something recognisably close to the original in any way. There’s more to a good clonehenge than that.

Screen Shot 2018-03-24 at 9.31.48 AMIt also irritates me when the models that English Heritage sell have glaring errors. Don’t get me started on the large models in the exhibition at the Visitor Centre – the Station Stones are so out of whack that “rectangle” is the last word you’d use to describe their arrangement! They also forgot to include the Altar Stone when the models were first made, and when they did finally add them in, they glued them down at 90° to the primary solstitial axis instead of the correct 80° – that really grinds my gears, because the 80° angle is fundamental to the design of the monument. [Editor’s note: The plan above and to the left shows the rectangle formed by the Station Stones at Stonehenge. The rectangle formed by these stones is considered important by some because, along with the alignments of these and other stones, it may be part of the reason Stonehenge was built where it is.]

29570597_10155564264413022_4968747390063919463_nThe most impressive has got to be Deller’s “Sacrilege” [Editor: the famous inflatable Stonehenge that toured a few years ago. In this we do not disagree!]. Even though it doesn’t have all the stones, it has just enough of them, done accurately enough that it’s unmistakably close to the real thing. And it’s enormous fun to bounce on. [Editor: On the left, or above, depending on the device you’re using to see this, is a photo of Deller’s bouncy Stonehenge with Simon on the right and English Heritage archaeologist Dave Field on the left. Photo by and with permission of the fabulous Pete Glastonbury.]

My favourite is the one at Esperance, Australia. Although I’ve not seen it in person, I love that it’s a close replica made of actual stone and that it’s correctly rotated 180° from the prototype [Editor: because of its location in the Southern Hemisphere]. It’ll last as long as the original and baffle future archaeologists. •

We end the first part of our interview with Simon Banton here. There’s plenty of information to digest. His opinions about why so many people make Stonehenges, what he would like to see in them, and other advice for hengers, as well as a little advice for Clonehenge itself, are ahead in the next part of the interview. Be sure to tune in!

And until next time, of course, happy henging!