Oxford’s Secret Treasures–Megalith Models at the Pitt Rivers Museum

photos from the website Rethinking Pitt-Rivers

We don’t need to do a full post on this, but it was passed along to us by the ever alert Mr. Peter Glastonbury, and now that we know about it, we feel Clonehenge would be incomplete without it.  What we’re talking about here is this:

Hidden away in a box in the Pitt Rivers store rooms are a set of 13 models depicting various megalithic monuments from England and the Isle of Man.” (See here.)

Brilliant, right? No Stonehenge, but we do find an old friend among them: Wayland Smith’s grave, now known as Wayland’s Smithy, a wooden model of which we posted here.

We’ve posted models of places other than Stonehenge before, of course, but to find a set of models of megalithic sites that even megaraks might concede to be obscure is extraordinary. Men-Al-Tol, Chun Quoit, the Calderstones: who builds models of these? Great stuff. Well spotted, Mr. Glastonbury. You will go down in the annals of Clonehenge history!

You, too, can make Clonehenge history, Gentle Reader, and, no–you don’t have to go down in any annals if that’s what’s worrying you! Find or build a model or models of any megalithic site, preferably in the British Isles or Europe, and send a picture, description, and if possible your motivation to us so we can do a post about it. Worldwide fame awaits you! Or at least some very wary looks from people who find out!

Until next time, friends, happy henging!

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.