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!

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!

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!

Why All the Stonehenges, South Korea?

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miniature Stonehenge at Aiins World in South Korea, posted with permission from Saranghae Korea

Thought we might put up a quick post for old times’ sake. We passed our seventh anniversary earlier this month, and in those seven years the world has become ever more filled with Stonehenge replicas, some might say to an alarming degree. Here on the official blog we have not kept up, but posts continue on the Clonehenge group and a related group for and by hengers themselves called the Will It Henge group on Facebook. We hope to feature an interview with a crazed dedicated henger from that group in the near future!

Today, however, we feature a new permanent henge, large enough, we think, to make our large permanent replica list, in South Korea. It is part of the Aiins World miniature park, another of those parks that feature miniature models of famous landmarks from around the world. We can’t tell from this picture just how miniature this is, but it appears to be a few feet high, and that’s good enough for us. We hereby declare it large and permanent! Our thanks to Saranghae Korea for permission to post the photo.

But now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about South Korea for a moment. We posted the Paju City Stonehenge at a pretend English town in South Korea on this blog years ago. We have heard rumours of a Stonehenge in the centre of the hotel complex at Del Pino Golf and Resort in Goseong-gun. That one looks very nice, but no explanation has been forthcoming.

And there is another, well, actually just a trilithon, but Stonehenge-like enough to satisfy us, in Gang-hwa goindolgun (photo at link). Gang-hwa goindolgun has other megalithic replicas, including an alignment like Carnac. We would definitely visit this place! This makes four Stonehenges in South Korea, that we know of! Is there something going on over there that we should know about??? Why all the Stonehenges, South Korea? This makes it the Stonehenge capital of Asia, much as Germany is for Europe. Well done, we must say!

We’re sure there are Stonehenge replicas and models we have yet to learn about. Not everyone in the world has been alerted to the importance and supremacy of the Clonehenge blog when it comes to reporting Stonehenge sightings. Please help us out by telling people to submit their information and pictures to us on the Clonehenge Twitter and/or the Clonehenge Facebook Group! We can’t emphasise to you enough just how important this is!*

Meanwhile, South Korea has quietly been doing its part. Let yourself be inspired to take up the banner. What could there be but peace and respect in a world full of Stonehenge replicas?

*because, to be honest, it is actually not all that important.

Bananahenge: Foodhenge Done Right!

bananahenge by petrija dos santos

bananahenge by petrija dos santos

Greetings! Long time no post. The Clonehenge staff have returned from our journey to the wilds of Salisbury Plain, among other similarly exotic spots, and have pictures and thoughts to share. In the meantime, however, we received this remarkable foodhenge photo from the artist, Toronto food photographer, Petrija Dos Santos, and decided you need to see it.

What a work! Let us tell you some of the ways in which this was done right. For this we need to post an aerial view of the Real Thing, which you can see below. Looking at it, we think it’s possible the artist herself may have gone by this picture when setting up the bananas.

Note how the inner trilithon horseshoe faces the longest lintelled stretch of the outer circle. Note how even fallen stones are, for the most part, represented. Note the care in stone/banana placement. Note how the sunset light is mimicked so as to create relatively accurate shadows of the banana stones! The henge and photograph were created by someone who was Paying Attention. Well done. (And of course the most important course of action this henger took was to SEND THE PHOTO TO THE CLONEHENGE BLOG!!! No henge is complete without this final step. You can find us on Twitter and Facebook.) The absolute ridiculousness of making a Stonehenge from cut bananas is cancelled out by the seriousness with which the project has been approached.

Well, almost.

At any rate, we give this henge 7 druids out of ten! Dos Santos has set the bar for those who would build the foodhenges of the future!!

We have pictures of a number of Stonehenge replicas of various sizes in store for you, mostly from the Stonehenge gift shop, so new posts may actually happen in the next month, well, next few months. Okay, maybe by winter solstice. But for now we thank you for reading, and wish all of you some very happy henging! And be sure to send us pictures!!

aerial view of Stonehenge

aerial view of Stonehenge

Clonehenge Goes to Stonehenge: Investigating the Source of the Plague!

Stonehenge—Warning: NOT A REPLICA!

(Warning: this is NOT A REPLICA !) Stonehenge photo by Pete Glastonbury, used with permission. 

Well, the word is out, so we may as well say it here: the entire staff of Clonehenge.com is headed for the UK and, against the justifiable objections of everyone at English Heritage (probably), will be visiting Stonehenge itself in early June!

Despite the well-known dangers of brain infection that we have documented here on this blog for many years, we have decided that, for the sake of the future of mankind and, indeed, of the entire planet and all of its living things, it is nothing short of our duty to investigate the source of the contagion that is spreading little Stonehenges across the globe. So on an undisclosed day in the next few weeks, we will don our hazmat suits, or possibly a mack and Wellies, and approach the dreaded structure that so many foolish and unsuspecting tourists willingly view in the course of a year.

Thank you. Thank you. Yes, we deserve that thundering applause for our courage and self-sacrifice, but of course we are far too modest to admit it! We are, it is true, still awaiting our funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, as well as our funding from the World Health Organisation, but we’re certain they will come through.

Miniature Stonehenge Model in a Tin, as sold at the Visitor Centre

Miniature Stonehenge Model in a Tin, as sold at the Visitor Centre

While there we hope to investigate stories we’ve heard of numerous Stonehenge replicas, large and small, sold at the Stonehenge Visitor Centre, including a particularly close inspection of certain chocolate trilithons of which we have been hearing ominous rumours!

Stonehenge of chocolate trilithons by @SchPrehistory on Twitter

Stonehenge of chocolate trilithons by @SchPrehistory on Twitter

Is it possible that EH or certain shadowy figures associated with the World Heritage Site are complicit in the plot to cover the earth with bad Stonehenge replicas by bringing in millions of tourists to contaminate their minds and then have them take home contagious gifts to families and friends? To find out the truth, we will stop at nothing, even including eating chocolate! It is a tough assignment, but we reluctantly and humbly accept it.

While in the environs, we hope to see other Stonehenge replicas and possibly Avebury and Silbury replicas, too. And the real ones as well. We will report back to our vast but quiet (very very quiet, but we know you’re out there! You are, aren’t you?) fandom.

So wish us luck in our hazardous endeavour. If you never hear from us again, well, you may assume we’re just being as lazy as always!

Until next time, gentle readers, happy henging!

Equinox Henge Sampler or, Good News—People are Still Strange!

knitted Stonehenge by Toogood Knits

knitted Stonehenge by Toogood Knits

Hello, friends! Yes, it’s vernal equinox in the northern hemisphere already and we haven’t posted on this blog since New Year’s. Go ahead, tell us how YOU’VE done everything YOU should have done since then. What’s that? We’re listening, but we can’t hear you? Okay, then.

At any rate, our absence here does not mean that nothing has been happening in the glamourous world of Stonehenge replicas. Au contraire! (See? Glamourous!) On Twitter and Facebook, many Stonehenge replicas, new and old, have been posted and admired. We thought we would post a few recent favourites here for those who still actually read blogs. Nostalgic for when people used to read, are you? The Clonehenge staff admires your old-school dedication!*

So behold: a wooden henge in a Liverpool park, made by John Merrill and John Ayling.

wooden henge in Liverpool's Princes Park

wooden henge in Liverpool’s Princes Park

A food-safe Stonehenge mold on Etsy, for fondant, chocolate, or candy henges, made by Michele B. Brosseau!

Stonehenge food-safe silicone mold

Stonehenge food-safe silicone mold from Etsy

An icehenge, built on a frozen lake in the northern U.S. by Drew McHenry, Kevin Lehner, Quinn Williams, Alec Niedringhaus and Patrick Shields.

Rock Lake Icehenge, in Lake Mills, Wisconsin, USA

Rock Lake Icehenge, in Lake Mills, Wisconsin, USA, photo by Eli Wedel

And then, of course, there are the many foodhenges, of which this melon henge is but an example. We’ve seen cakehenges, a beefhenge, and others including that old favourite, the sconehenge.

melonhenge from the blog Keep It Up, David

melonhenge from the blog Keep It Up, David

So, although our blog posts are sporadic, the world’s bizarre obsession with making Stonehenge replicas has not abated, and reports of them are still pouring in! If you can’t be at Stonehenge itself for the equinox/eclipse celebration this year, we suggest making your own Stonehenge and celebrating with friends. It’s the same earth, the same sun as they’ll have at Stonehenge, with less crowding, less noise, and less trash. And you know where to send the pictures!

Our thanks to all who have posted Stonehenge replicas where we could see them or who sent us emails or messages alerting us to them. A very happy equinox to all and until next time (and the Stones only know when that will be) we wish everyone out there some very happy henging!

*(We realise that you’ve given up reading and gone on to another blog by now, but it’s the thought that counts!)