Big News: BBC Replica Trilithon Rediscovered—Just in Time for Clonehenge’s Sixth Birthday!

1996 concrete trilithon replica

1996 concrete trilithon replica

We are [please choose one: surprised/confused/incredulous/amused/shocked/spannered] to announce that today is the sixth anniversary of the founding of the Clonehenge blog!

Timothy Daw, BBC Wiltshire's Karen Gardner, and Julian Richards with the concrete uprights

Timothy Daw, BBC Wiltshire’s Karen Gardner, and Julian Richards with the concrete uprights

And to celebrate it, recently renowned Wiltshire farmer and long barrow builder Mr. Timothy Daw, along with well known television presenter and Stonehenge scholar, Mr. Julian Richards, have inaugurated a new and historic project: the resurrection of a 1990s BBC concrete replica Stonehenge trilithon! You can see the original completed concrete trilithon in the photo above.

Truth time: something in the above paragraph is not strictly true. Can you guess?  Okay, yes, it is the assertion that the project had anything at all to do with Clonehenge’s anniversary. It did not. However, it is such a lovely fantasy that we wanted to see it in print. [insert unicorn emoji]

But back to the truth. In the words of the increasingly famous Stonehenge caretaker Tim Daw,

“Twenty years ago Julian Richards led a programme where they dragged and erect a full size replica of the Great Trilithon of Stonehenge. The concrete stones were recently discovered to be in danger of being destroyed and so we have saved them and they are now at All Cannings Cross near the Long Barrow. Next year we hope to remake the programme using neolithic methods to raise it again, and leave it standing.”

The finding and transporting of the pieces of this trilithon has been such an event that BBC Wiltshire actually posted a set of pictures called Replica Stonehenge (!!!) showing the concrete “stones” being moved and transported with crane and lorries. The text reads:

the trilithon pieces at Cannings Cross Farm

the trilithon pieces at Cannings Cross Farm, photo by Andy Burns

A replica Stonehenge has been moved across Wiltshire. The giant concrete stones have been transported to Canning Cross Farm near Devizes. Farmer Tim Daw will use them to test the different theories on how the Neolithic monument was put together 4,000 years ago.

Only a few times in the six years of its existence has the Clonehenge blog covered actual Stonehenge replica news. There was the story of the pink Granite Stonehenge in West Australia, its stones being left at the quarry when the man who commissioned it ran out of money, and its subsequent acquisition by the Beales and installation on their cattle farm; and then of course there was, and remarkably still is, the only full-sized illegal guerilla henge, Achill Henge on Achill Island in County Mayo, Ireland. That one was supposed to be taken down immediately, but three years later is still standing!

And now we have this romantic story of the concrete trilithon lying in pieces in a car park since the 1990s, only to be discovered, claimed, and transported, with plans for its resurrection—on the Wiltshire farm of the discoverer of the missing Stonehenge stone parch marks, Stonehenge caretaker, and long barrow builder, the budding megalithic superstar himself, Mister Timothy Daw. (Is it true that he was asked to search for his ancestors on Who Do You Think You Are, where he hoped to discover that he was directly descended from the people who ordered the original Stonehenge built back in the Neolithic, but was dismayed to learn that in fact their most direct living descendant was one Simon Banton, who was of course far too modest and self-effacing to appear on television? Inquiring minds want to know!)

We are looking forward to next year, watching the progress as various transport methods are used to move the concrete stones, and the trials are filmed for television. (By then no doubt Mr. Daw will be forced to stop every few moments to give autographs, which could slow things down a bit. Haha, we certainly hope he is a good sport.) This is a wonderful project, and we thank all involved, for photos, information, and for giving our whole staff here at Clonehenge something to crow about as we complete our sixth year of nonsense. The smiles you see on all three people in the picture above are the smiles that Stonehenge replicas create wherever they are found. We have loved recording them and being party to this odd corner of human nature for so many years! We see no sign that henge building is slowing down or going out of style.

We know we haven’t been posting much here on the blog lately. Some people tell us they no longer have time to read blog posts and they now only track their Stonehenge replica news on our Facebook group, Facebook page, or on Twitter. Of the three, we would have to recommend the Clonehenge Facebook group, because the most action and up-to-the-minute reports take place there. But once in a while we’ll return here to record something special.

And until the next time comes, dear friends, we wish you some very happy henging!

Our 400th Post: No Stonehenge, No Replica. It’s the Modern Long Barrow at All Cannings!

Artist's impression of what the finished Long Barrow will look like, (c) Peter Dunn

Artist’s impression of what the finished Long Barrow will look like, (c) Peter Dunn

Despite the fact that we have in effect left this blog on its own like a kitten at a rubbish tip (or dump, if you prefer), it has somehow matured to the ripe age of four hundred posts. To celebrate all of those magnificent and ridiculous Stonehenge replicas, what have we chosen to feature? A new Sconehenge? The long-awaited Space Station replica? (we wish!), a Stonehenge replica owned by Angelina Jolie or Justin Bieber? (please, no!)? Absolutely not. Instead we are featuring something that not only is not at all a Stonehenge, but is also not actually a replica. BECAUSE IT’S OUR BLOG AND WE CAN DO WHAT WE WANT!!!

And what is this delicious non-henge confection we are serving up to you today? It is the remarkable and brand new Long Barrow at All Cannings. Its website says:

Inside the longbarrow at All Cannings

Inside the Long Barrow at All Cannings, photo by Joby R. J. Wheatley

The Long Barrow at All Cannings is a columbarium or place for cremated remains in urns to be kept. It is being built in 2014 in the style of a traditional long barrow in natural materials, but made relevant for today in its internal layout. It is aligned to the sunrise of the winter solstice when the sun will illuminate the internal stone passageway.” Yep, you still gotta have that sunrise alignment!

To help us tell you about the long barrow, we have pretended to be responsible journalists/bloggers and interviewed the man behind the barrow, the increasingly famous Tim Daw, writer of the Stonehenge-related blog Sarsen.org. (If you’re a Stonehenge fan, it should already be on your blogroll!) Mr. Tim Daw is a staff member at Stonehenge for English Heritage, and owner of Cannings Cross farms. We’re told he is rather handsome, although of course we wouldn’t know, since we personally are attracted only to Stonehenge and its replicas*.

Clonehenge: What made you decide to build the long barrow? Was there a moment of inspiration, or was this in the back of your mind for a long time?

Tim DawIt was a moment of inspiration that brought together various long cogitated thoughts; it would be nice to build a barrow for myself, lots of people need a place for cremated urns that is a bit special and has a spiritual quality which is hard to find elsewhere, somewhere to revisit and remember;  WOW! this is a great spot.

Clonehenge: How would you say your long term knowledge of Stonehenge and the nearby landscape of Wiltshire’s distant past affected your inspiration and decisions about the long barrow, its purpose and construction?

Tim Daw: I think it made me want to make it authentic and real but not a copy or pastiche. Using ancient techniques but not bound by play acting reconstruction. And making it worthy to be alongside the other monuments in the area.

The barrow during construction, photo by Paul Robinson

The barrow during construction, photo by Paul Robinson

And therein, we think, lies the secret of the fine quality of this barrow. If you have been reading the Clonehenge blog from the beginning (We know you haven’t, but please just play along?), you have heard us talk about the sacred landscapes in Wiltshire, not only Stonehenge, Avebury, and Silbury hill, but cursuses (cursi?), long barrows, round barrows, avenues, and more.

Mr. Daw has been taking this in, dwelling in the midst of it, his whole life, developing a deep respect for the history and the land itself. That relationship reveals itself in the understated excellence of the design and his choice to pay for the finest quality stone work. The barrow is not only a folly and a place to deposit a loved one’s ashes with reverence and permanence. It is, in the best sense, also his gesture to that sacred and legended land that surrounds it and perhaps to those who once did and those who still do revere it.

But hey, what do we know? We’re a humourous blog, much more suited to embarrassingly-shaped vegetables than to that sort of talk! We’re running out of time, so to make a long story short, we say: this is your chance: £1000 pounds to be your own barrow wight seems like a bargain to us! And what if that ancient theory about the solstice sun when it enters the barrow bringing the dead to life turns out to be true? That’s more than your money’s worth, right there.

Sure, this isn’t a Stonehenge replica, but to us it points up the things that make most Stonehenge replicas ridiculous. Stonehenge is an ancient monument which is a unique part of humanity’s deep history, placed in a landscape that still resonates with the reverence of many thousands of years of inhabitants, some of  whose descendants still live there today. No Stonehenge replica, from two upright carrot sticks with a cross carrot on top, to the most carefully accurate full-sized replica, can approach that essence of what Stonehenge is.

But in All Cannings there will now be a long barrow of modern construction that, while it is not a Stonehenge replica in any other sense, may have captured a whiff of the ineffable weight and meaning of Stonehenge both on the land of which it is a part and in the psyches of those for whom Stonehenge and its ancient companions have become an obsession.

Whoever THEY are.

And until next time, friends, happy henging!

*We say things like this because Clonehenge is supposed to be a humourous blog. The truth is, we are, of course, attracted to megaliths of all kinds.

P. S: We did ask Mr. Daw if he was planning to add some Easter Island heads to the property later. He said no, but he might add some gibbets in preparation for The Glorious Day….