Hidden Hengers of Mississippi: Stonehenge Contagion Hits the Deep South!

Peghenge, henge and photo by Felder Rushing

Peghenge, henge and photo by Felder Rushing

It has been cold here in Clonehenge Central. England has had snow, and the usual rude snow sculptures have shown up in our internet feed. But down in the state of Mississippi, it is warm and lovely, and people can do their gardening—and garden henging—all year long. So it should be no surprise to anyone that the Stonehenge virus has had its way with people there just as it has everywhere else.

Meet Mr. Felder Rushing, native of Mississippi, radio personality, eccentric garden pundit and–henge enthusiast! Last week we were taking a healthful stroll around the Internet just to get the kind of fresh air, sunshine, and exercise you can’t get if you confine yourself to the social networks, when we stumbled on, without crushing it, we might add, the henge you see above. Some might call it a clothespin henge, but Peghenge would be a more familiar usage for most of our readers.

From there one (healthy aerobic) click took us to to his eclectic page of henges, which starts with Stonehenge itself and goes on through Avebury (we approve), a number of familiar Stonehenge replicas, on to his own and a friend’s garden henges, and to Newgrange and the white horses, by which we mean the chalk horses cut into a few English hillsides. No sign of the Uffington, but we’re in a forgiving mood.

James McCormick's Stonehenge, from Rushing's website

James McCormick’s Stonehenge, from Rushing’s website

The picture above is a stone circle in the garden of one of his friends, James McCormick in Starkville, Mississippi. Rather nice, we think! True, there are lintels only in the center, and they’re in a circle, not a horseshoe, but the reference is clear, it is aesthetically pleasing, and we have learned it is astronomically correct. We award this little gardenhenge 5 ½ druids!

And Peghenge? It is tempting to award it a higher score for its outer lintels and the correctly-formed inner horseshoe, but, since this Felder Rushing is a famous gardener, writer, radio personality (his show is called The Gestalt Gardener), and speaker who also has a cottage farm in Shropshire, should we not hold him to a higher standard? Score for the peghenge is also 5 ½ druids! We hope, sir, that this will spur you on to even greater Feats of Henging Glory.*

Meanwhile, our huge staff of researchers, as well as our roomful of idea people and writers, are working on another post from the Deep South. Mark Cline, of Virginia’s Foamhenge fame, has dazzled the henging world with a new creation, a fibreglass Stonehenge in Alabama, rumoured to be guarded by dragons and Chinese warriors! It is new,and information is hard to come by, but we have enough to add it to our list of large permanent replicas.

The other one is a set of Stonehenge-related sculptures on an island in the Serbian city of Belgrade. The research on this one has taken so many turns, involving politics, a formidable sculptor, a soul-stirring sculpture garden that was once behind the prince’s palace and is now destroyed forever, and the like, that we’re having trouble getting the article small enough for posting. But our huge staff is up to any task and will persevere! Meanwhile, this, too has been added to our list of large permanent replicas, bringing the grand number to 75. This is a world of wonders!

And so, dear friends and readers, when you start to despair for the world, think of all of the people out there who shrug off their troubles and in the face of certain disaster decide to build another Stonehenge! The impulse to have a laugh outdistances everything else about human nature. You have to love us. Ish.So, until next time—happy henging!

*Note: We have been prevailed upon by the great Simon Burrow, recent winner of the End-of-the-World Clonehenge Contest, and venerated Hengefinder, among the oldest friends of the blog, etc., to reconsider the Peghenge scoring. So Mr. Rushing’s fine creation is now awarded 6½ druids! Use them well, sir.

Wayland’s Smithy, Forged of Wood

from a photo by Les Williams, used with permission

There are times here at Clonehenge when the cupboard is bare of Stonehenge replicas. At these times, readers who send in odd things that normally might not be posted here can find they’re in luck. Such is the fate of one Les Williams, possibly of Wales*. He sent us photos of a wooden replica of the long barrow at Wayland Smithy, hand-carved by himself, and here it is although it is not a Stonehenge replica at all!

Wayland, often called Wayland’s Smithy is a megalithic site–a long barrow much like the West Kennet Long Barrow near Avebury stone circle and Silbury Hill, which has, in fact all of which have been mentioned in Clonehenge posts before. But while we have until now limited ourselves to posting replicas of sites in Wiltshire, Wayland Smithy is over the boundary in neighboring Oxfordshire, near the Uffington White Horse and a full 64 kilometers from Stonehenge.

The smithy bit has to do with a Germanic smith god, and the name was applied several millennia after the building of the barrow, although it’s possible it was connected somehow with the idea of smithing before the name came along. At any rate, the legend was that you could leave your horse there and have him magically reshod. As far as we know it did not translate into having flat tires magically replaced.

From Mr. Williams we have this account in answer to our questions: “The wood is Linden and I found it as a leftover from tree clearance on a riverbank in the Rhondda Valley’s. I thought I would have a go at a henge, over the last few years my wife and I have visited many of the Henges and Barrows in Southern Britain and Wales. The most atmospheric, imho, is not Stonehenge but West Kennet Long Barrow and that was my main inspiration.

However, I thought it was more than I could handle so I chose Wayland’s Smithy in Oxfordshire (never been there!) as my subject. The result that you see took about 50 or 60 hours to carve, all done from photographs found on the net.

Oh, yes, the net. We’ve heard of it, and if it affords this kind of result perhaps we should look into it. We find this replica to be quite impressive in several ways. One is the fact that it was hand-carved from wood. Another that it was done completely from photographs yet was beautifully done. And one is the aspect we always love, i.e., WHAT MAKES full grown, seemingly sane people DO THESE THINGS?

Whatever motivates them, we like it. When people do odd and quirky things, they’re expressing that unique bit of them inside that makes life interesting. We thank Les Williams for sending us his remarkable creation, and hope he will send us photos of his carved West Kennet Long Barrow when he has finished it.

No score, of course, since it is not a Stonehenge replica. Just a bravo and a virtual druid to keep on his desk!

And to all of you, happy henging!

*Here is how you can tell a good blogger from a poor one. The good blogger would not write this post without first ascertaining Mr. Williams’ home village, or in a pinch would have avoided the topic of where he lives, while we, the poor bloggers, just go dithering on and even draw attention to their laziness in an unnecessary footnote in hopes that you will mistake it to be entertaining rather than pathetic.

Sad, really! We wouldn’t blame you if you resort to that other blog on Stonehenge replicas. What’s that? There IS no other blog on Stonehenge replicas? Well, then you’ll just have to live with our faults, won’t you? Tsk!

Later note: Les Williams’ West Kennet Long Barrow model can be seen in a later post, here.