The Stonehenge Perspective on Henging, Part 2: Simon Banton, Continued

Simon Banton and a rook at an undisclosed location, photo by Wendy Pallesen or perhaps Carol Druce

“…there’s something about the trilithon form that aches with antiquity and latent symbolism.”

Here is the second half of our interview with Stonehenge man Simon Banton.

5) Why do you think so many people continue to make Stonehenges of all sizes and materials all over the world?

The act of creation lies deep within most of us, and creating a clonehenge seems to foster a deep sense of satisfaction. It has the huge advantage of being instantly recognisable, so no special talent is required. I can’t draw for toffee, but you were kind enough to feature my Etch-a-Sketched clonehenge [see previous post] even though it was 2D. There’s also the growing awareness that there’s a community of clonehengers, and I guess a desire to belong to this elite club must factor in somewhere.

[Editor’s note: You, too, can belong to an elite club!]

6) Why do you think Stonehenge models and replicas so often wind up being an assemblage of trilithons rather than being more like Stonehenge? Why is the trilithon such a powerful and memorable symbol?

That is a very significant question. There’s no doubt that “two uprights and one horizontal” is immediately Stonehenge and it’s been a famous icon in the public’s attention for at least 300 years now. From the standalone pylons of Egyptian temples, through the Temple of the Sun at Tiwanaku to the Greek letter PI [Editor’s note: one could add the Japanese Torii gate and Tonga’s Ha’amonga’a Maui Trilithon.] there’s something about the trilithon form that aches with antiquity and latent symbolism.

Perhaps it’s the “doorways upon doorways” meme that Henry of Huntingdon came up with in the early 12th Century AD [Editor’s note: English scholar Henry of Huntington wrote in 1130, describing Stonehenge as a place “where stones of an amazing size are set up in the manner of doorways, so that one door seems to be set upon another. Nor can anyone guess by what means so many stones were raised so high, or why they were built there.”]  that’s the root of it for our culture, or maybe Spinal Tap have had a fundamental impact on humanity that will echo down the ages.

I also think that the idea of a continuous “ring beam” [Editor: Simon is using the term “ring beam” here to refer to the continuous circle of curved lintels that is thought to have topped the upright sarsens of Stonehenge’s outer circle.] doesn’t figure in many people’s consciousness, so they end up doing a ring of separate trilithons instead.

7) Is there anything you would like to say about Stonehenge replicas? Do you have any stories connected with one that you would like to share?

More full size ones please! I realise that’s a big ask, but perhaps it’s something for an ice sculpture festival to tackle. I’ve had a small involvement with one full size trilithon replica with my friends Tim Daw and Julian Richards. Julian’s an archaeologist and Stonehenge obsessive. Back in the 1990s he made a TV documentary called “Secrets of Lost Empires” where he and a team of engineers and volunteers attempted—successfully —to erect two 40 ton concrete uprights and a 10 ton lintel as a replica of the tallest trilithon that ever stood at Stonehenge.

After the programme, the components were dismantled and stored on a nearby military base, in a car park, until a few years ago when the army rang him up and asked if he wanted them back as they were getting in the way of their tanks. Julian asked me if I knew anyone who had some land where they might be moved to, and perhaps re-erected in a new project—and I immediately thought of Tim.

Tim’s a visionary. He built the first new “long barrow”, as a columbarium, in 5,500 years and has spawned an industry of modern barrow-makers as a result. [see Clonehenge’s post on the Long Barrow at All Cannings here] He jumped at the chance and these large lumps of concrete were low-loaded from the military base to Tim’s farm, where they await the attention of an intrepid bunch of Stonehengineers. [see Clonehenge’s post about the rediscovery and moving to Tim’s farm of the pieces of the concrete trilithon here]

Trilithon flat 2.jpg

trilithon flat 1.jpeg

photos of the parts of the concrete trilithon at rest on Cannings Cross Farm

Stonehengineers

Stonehengineers, those who helped erect the concrete trilithon the first time

8) Is there anything you think more people should know about Stonehenge itself?

Everyone who’s interested in the astronomy of the site should read Gordon Freeman’s “Hidden Stonehenge”—not least because he is one of the few archaeoastronomer researchers who actually spent considerable time on-site observing and photographing at key points in the year, over many years. He identified a secondary solstitial axis that runs from Winter Sunrise to Summer Sunset and explains why the Altar Stone is (a) flat on the ground and (b) at 80° to the primary axis. I helped Gordon confirm some of his observation data and had the pleasure of meeting him a few years ago.

More generally, the most recent research is suggesting that the society responsible for Stonehenge’s construction was almost completely eradicated by an incoming population from the Continent in the early Bronze Age. If this is true, then we have—in Britain—no direct ancestral connection to the builders of it. That’s something of a shock, as Stonehenge is a touchstone of British identity. The argument about the DNA evidence from early Beaker graves that suggests this is likely to get quite heated.

9) Do you have any advice for hengers?

If you’re going for realism, don’t forget the Heel Stone, the Slaughter Stone, the Station Stones and the Altar Stone. Note that the central trilithons increase in height towards the southwest and they’re all taller than the sarsen circle that surrounds them. If you’re going to include figures in the middle, make them archaeologists having a fight and—above all—think BIG and have fun! (Hengers, take heed!)

10) Do you have any advice for Clonehenge itself?

Frankly, I don’t think it could be any better. [!!!] Except, maybe—Clonehenge merchandise? I feel the need to make a Clonehenge out of Clonehenge coffee mugs—or is that too much like meta-henging?

[Editor: Not at all. Plus, meta-henging is a good thing! 😉 We will be working to make Clonehenge mugs and perhaps eventually other merchandise available from print-on-demand sites in both in the UK and the States, so that neither place will have to pay exorbitant postal fees, hopefully some time in the near future.]

Thank you very much, Simon! Thus ends our two-part interview with the illustrious Stonehenge devotee. We hope you have enjoyed it and perhaps learned something! You can find the first part of the interview here. We should note with gratitude that upon the occasion of our visit to Stonehenge in 2015, Simon went out of his way to meet us there and give us a calendar with his own photos of Stonehenge. We were quite honoured!

Gentle Readers: Do you have questions about Stonehenge or about Stonehenge replicas in any form? If you have a question that is in any way connected to our topic, get in touch on Facebook or Twitter, or leave a comment below, and we will answer or get in touch with someone who can answer your questions. We will also consider requests for posts on related topics.

And of course, until next time, friends, happy henging!

Goodwood Revival Stonehenge: White-robed Druids, Cardboard Obama, and Then We Digress!

Stonehenge in Sussex, at the Goodwood Revival.

Stonehenge in Sussex, at the Goodwood Revival.

A Stonehenge replica was built for the Goodwood Revival, an annual festival of motor racing in the mode racing’s heydey, in the middle of the last century.* We don’t know much about this replica: what it was made of, just whose idea it was, but here is some promotional text from the Goodwood Revival website:

“You can’t just build a full-scale replica of Stonehenge for no reason, so if you can’t build one in the 50th anniversary year of the founding of Britain’s Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids when can you do it at all?

Yes, we’re continuing Goodwood’s tradition of stunning displays and authentic set dressing with the most extreme example to date, in the shape of a magnificent Stonehenge installation at the entrance to the Rolex Drivers’ Club.

Commissioned by Lord March to be larger than the original (for greater visibility as there will be more people at the Goodwood Revival in September than lived in the entire UK 5,000 years ago), the installation will also be a celebration of the pre-historic monument’s 99 years in safe hands, after it was bought at auction in 1915 by Cecil Chubb for £6,600 (£500,000 in today’s money).”

An article published during the Revival said,

“Sussex or Salisbury Plain? When the sun rose this morning you could be forgiven for wondering as the first rays of a beautiful September morning illuminated the famous stones of Stonehenge.

Well it was at least a very fair representation of the world famous monument. Complete with a host of white-robed Druids. And one cardboard cutout of Barack Obama…

A druid and President Obama, with possibly an altar stone behind them

A druid and President Obama, with possibly an altar stone behind them

Druids, but no virgins, at least! The druids were actors, and the cut-out was a reference to the U.S. president’s recent visit to Stonehenge. Listen: do you think this could be a new trend? Where once there were Easter Island heads (called moai) placed in or near Stonehenge replicas, will there now be representations of US President Barack Obama?? Stay tuned. We’ll be monitoring this for you around the clock!

At any rate, having a look at the Stonehenge itself, we see that although the entrance trilithon is much too wide, the stones are realistic, and it appears that the three lintel stretch of the outer circle may have been included. This looks to be an exceptionally good replica as far as it goes—true, no bluestones or inner trilithon horseshoe—but capturing the general shapes and look of the old stones as they have counts for a lot. And as you all know, we have a weakness for the sheer ridiculousness of the druid connection, not to mention a cardboard cutout of, well, anyone, really. That’s new in henging.

Score: 8 druids! We still question whether it is actually larger than the original, but why quibble? The real question is, where is it now?? Was it sold, stored, shipped to the White House? True, probably not, but just think how it would look on the lawn there! Come to think of it, Buckingham Palace could use a Stonehenge… How about Red Square? And who built this? Are they building more? Inquiring minds want to know.

Before we go, the mention of moai reminded us of a crucial but unrelated issue to chew over. How many of you use or have used emoji? You know, those little pictures 🍯 🚀🎩 that people pepper their online conversations with? We have discovered an abominable fact: Apple’s, and perhaps every company’s, emoji include an Easter Island head 🗿, but do not include any kind of Stonehenge image!!! Who makes these choices? We mean, does that seem right to you?? More importantly, how can we get it fixed? Your advice is welcome!

And people say we don’t address important issues on our blog! This is one that’s worth marching in the streets for. But until then, or until the next time, gentle readers, happy henging! 👽

*Thought: wouldn’t the Cursus actually work better for racing?

 

Basalt Henge to Save the Earth: Eastern Australia, Byron Bay!

Byron’s Stonehenge, image from Byron Ecopark site

“On a gorgeous 75-hectare beachfront property ‘Eagle Farm’ located in Byron Shire on the north coast of New South Wales, Dieter Horstmann is using a set of giant stone structures built from ancient basalt-columns to create a totally unique, 100% ecologically sustainable village and eco-tourism resort.

Another line from the same site: “ Stone columns, some up to 10 metres in length, being strategically positioned across ‘Eagle Farm’, forming a Byron Bay “Stonehenge”.  Mr Horstmann and his artist friends have harvested these natural Basalt-crystals on the land to artistically create their Stonehenge-style Eco-village.

We admit we wouldn’t mind seeing this place! Mr. Horstmann (seen at left in photo by Jeff Dawson), born in Germany, has spent decades building his ecology park in New South Wales. It includes a village with minimal environmental impact, a health resort, and facilities to make possible the trial of various green practices with the purpose of helping to popularise those that have the most promise. His hope is that the park will encourage others all over the world to embrace environmentally healthy practices. (Because that’s going to happen. Lol!)

Fortunately our job here is not to make sure that people save the planet, but to report on the more urgent matter, these Stonehenge-ish constructions. Every Stonehenge replica listed on this blog, or not listed for that matter, has unique peculiarities, and in this case perhaps the most intriguing thing is the stones it’s made from: they are basalt columns, similar to those that make up Devil’s Tower in Wyoming (Close Encounters, anyone?), and the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland.

These columns were on the property to begin with. Let’s face it–who wouldn’t think henge if they found these things lying around with nothing else to do? What’s that?  Everyone but us? Well, right, but clearly Herr Horstmann is one of us–a henger, henge-o-phile, henge-orak, clonehenger. Welcome to our ranks, sir! We honour you for your vision!*

But we know a lot of people are tied up right now, cleaning up from Sandy, fixing the economy, and playing Halo 4, and may not get around to that right away. For now, Dieter Horstmann’s henge will have to do. Hard to give a score because we don’t think we’ve seen the whole thing. But we’ll give it 6 druids and add it to our list of large permanent replicas.  Impressive large stones. May his endeavor succeed beyond his wildest dreams!

And until next time, happy henging!

P.S.: Flamehenge! And our thanks to Hengefinder Matt Penny for finding the Byron Stonehenge!

*The  subject of how Stonehenge is often connected in people’s minds with ecology and saving the earth, despite the fact that building it would have required disturbing the environment to a degree not seen on Great Britain until that time, might provide a thoughtful person with material for a long and interesting essay touching on psychology, our modern perceptions about ancient people and nature, and the kind of hierarchical society that is required to orchestrate this kind of monument building. But as you know, we are about as far as we can get from being thoughtful people, so we’re off the hook. Phew! That was close!

Festival Henges, 2012! Part One: Audio Soup Festival

One trilithon of the Audio Soup Henge, decorated

Back after our delightful holidays which included a funeral, an alarming incident in which we fell on our faces, and a bad cold. If you hear us coughing or sniffling during this post, kindly pretend not to notice!

We know of two henges built for festivals this summer, although there were almost certainly more somewhere. The trilithon in the photo above belongs to one made by the infamous Henge Collective for a music festival called Audio Soup in Garvald, East Lothian (that’s Scotland, for those who are opening a tab for Google just now). interestingly, they were invited to henge at the festival, the first instance we’ve heard of public henging by invitation!

We know what you’re sitting there thinking. It doesn’t look much like Stonehenge. True, but you have to understand that the Henge Collective are sort of the Impressionists or almost Abstract Expressionists of the henging world. They deal in nuance, subtly suggesting Stonehenge rather than blatantly coming out and screaming it. At least that is what we choose to believe!

We do like the knit or crochet decorations. We are of the school who believe that originally the stones of Stonehenge were decorated, both permanently in some ways and seasonally with more colourful and perishable things draped and laid at their bases, so we find this fitting.

As for score? 5½ druids for the bold hengers! We are excited for them and pleased that henging by invitation is now a thing! Who knows where this will lead? Hengers invited in by the United Nations? Or Parliament? Hengers at sea? Henging by robots on Mars? The possibilities are endless.

Next up: Burning Man and its henge tradition. Until then, friends, happy henging!

Barbury Horse Trials: Stonehenge (ish) of Fallen Beech

Photo © Andy Hooper for the Mail Online

Don’t bother to look at the horse. Ignore the young woman with her dress flying up provocatively in the back. Yes, the important part of this picture is the trilithons! Sent in by alert reader, Welsh academic, shaman and author Mike Williams (we are honoured, sir), this Wiltshire setup, referred to as the Stonehenge Jump, was featured here once before, but we had no inkling that it was still being used until this morning. Be sure to have a look at this link to the article accompanying the picture above, especially the video part way down the page. Surprised they didn’t use the hymn Jerusalem as a background!

A couple of weeks ago, we were shown a picture of a recent crop circle in Wiltshire and all we could look at was the Stonehenge-like thing near it. That mystery appears to be solved–it was this circle of trilithons. We love when little mysteries solve themselves!

At any rate, we have already scored this at 5 ½ druids back in 2009. Seems right. The Daily Mail Online article says, “The Stonehenge jump, made from fallen beech, is the stand-out feature of the Barbury International, which will be staged on Marlborough Downs, Wiltshire, between June 28 and July 1.

It was a lead-up to the Olympics, which also had Stonehenge jumps. It is too bad that crazy golf isn’t an Olympic sport. We could have been seeing Stonehenges all over the place during the games! At least Jeremy Deller’s wonderful bouncy Stonehenge is still touring. And elsewhere people are busy building Stonehenge replicas hoping to have it finished by winter solstice. We know the henge-oraks (combination of henge and anorak, our new word for the day! The thrill of it.) are out there somewhere and we look forward to hearing about their creations.

In other news, we hear a rumour that Achill Henge is bringing in enough money to give the good people of County Mayo pause. Is there yet hope that it will be permitted to stand? Oh, the tension, beauty and excitement of the world of Stonehenge replicas! One can hardly bear it sometimes. Other times one has a cup of tea and a biscuit.

Wait. What’s that you say? The horse is painted? Why so it is. We hadn’t noticed. Let’s hope the girl didn’t get any of that chalk on her dress. Or anywhere else. Messy business, these horse events! Until next time, gentle readers, happy henging!

Cheswardine: Another Long-Sought Henge Attained!

photo by Mia Robinson

Well, we survived the flood and gales. Many thanks to those who sent us good wishes, silent or otherwise. Irene let us live to henge another day.

We have long sought a picture of this little trilithon circle in Cheswardine, Shropshire. Looking at it, you may well ask, “Why?” but the fact is, once we know something like this is out there, we desire to list it, just as a collector wants that Mickey Mantle rookie card or that Black Lotus card, or any special little knick knack that completes a set. If there is a Stonehenge replica out there, we want it on Clonehenge!

We know very little about this one. Tinker, our photograph provider in this case says, “i recently moved to cheswardine and was thrilled when i randomly found the henge!!! i drove past it lots of times it wasnt until i stopped for the post box that i saw it as its hidden from the main road its on small ground next to a house but it is very lovely!!

And a site on the interwebs says, “On our way back home we happened to pass through the Shropshire village of Cheswardine, and having spotted what looked like a miniature Stonehenge, we had to stop and photograph it. The structure is on the grass verge of a street called Symon’s Way, which leads off the main road through the village, and it is made of rough stone blocks.

As for score,we can’t give it more than 5 druids, charming as it is. Very cute, but not very Stonehenge-like. The ideal picture of this henge would include at least one cat. Possibly wearing a tie or hat.

The point of this post, however, is to laud, trumpet, and otherwise praise our alert reader and contributor for finding this henge in Cheswardine and sending us the picture! Well done, Tinker! If we gave out awards, we would send you one. Alas we do not, however. You will have to be content with the admiration of a grateful nation (the Henge Nation), and the not-inconsiderable honour of having made us happy. Well done, you!

We hate to post and run, but we watched Ancient Aliens last night and now are all worked up about mica at Teotihuacan, the stonework at Ollantaytambo, and the precise and symmetrical carving at Luxor.  So we are going to cut this post short and go do hours of pointless Googling which will lead us to countless flaky sites that all quote the same, probably dubious, source(s).  Oh, what fun!

We wonder when Ancient Aliens will get around to discussing the mystery of countless people building Stonehenge replicas around the world. Alien mind control?  I’m sure that the guy with the intense tan and weird hair is on task as we speak.  Stay tuned!!

And until then, happy henging!

Walkerhenge: Not Quite the Kind of Exciting Innovation It Sounds Like

photos by Michael H. Walker, Jr., used with permission

Walkerhenge. When we heard the name, it conjured up a vision of a Stonehenge replica robotised to be able to walk about, a peripatetic henge, or maybe a fleet of them… Yes, dozens, no, hundreds of Stonehenge replicas roaming the countryside, eating and reproducing, everything from little baby henges in the care of their mothers to huge bull henges bellowing and running the young single male henges away from the females. Wow, wait until David Attenborough gets hold of this one!

But no, Walkerhenge is named after its creators, Edith and Barry Henge. Oops, no! That should be Michael and Tim Walker, seen here being infected with the Stonehenge brain virus on a typically sunny warm day in Wiltshire.

Mike tells us, “…my brother and I went to Stonehenge a few years ago and when we got back I acquired these rocks. We decided to build a mini Stonehenge. We built it by hand in 2009 and its made out of old granite curbs from the 1850’s from Camden, NJ.” Another cautionary tale illustrating the Clonehenge Effect. (But the bit about the old curbs is brilliant, of course, even if it is Camden.)

Most people don’t understand the risks when they visit Stonehenge. They think, “Chevy Chase went there and he’s fine” or “The Doctor went there and he hasn’t been going around building henges.” Ah, but they are both Gallifreyans! Humans are different. They go home and then the worms in their heads make them build Stonehenges. So far there is no cure.

But on to the matter at hand. This belongs to the category of personal garden henges, like the  paved structure in Red Oak, TexasTremont Henge in Cleveland, or  the circle in Kennewick, Washington. Typically these are not large and sport only one or two trilithons. They often include benches in the form of very low trilithons. This one, like the Tremont, adds standing stones, representing, we suppose, the blue stones and maybe a stray sarsen. Its unique touch is the fire pit, which we are inclined to think is a touch the original Builders at Stonehenge would have recognised.

Another for our list of Large Permanent Replicas! As for score, well, we like this. Well suited for celebrating the Four Festivals, for marshmallows and story telling, or just drinking beer and howling at the moon, all of which except the marshmallows probably took place at the original. Score: 6 druids. (It is actually a 5½ druid henge, but I think readers will understand when we remind them that this poor fellow lives in New Jersey. If an extra half druid will give a little glow to his sorry life, how can we deny him?)

And anyway, we don’t live all that far from Juliustown, New Jersey, home of Walkerhenge. We don’t want to risk a whole herd coming after us. This time of year they are in rut and their horns are very sharp!

Many thanks to Monsieur Walker for his photos and his patience. And until next time, friends, happy henging!