Stonehenge Built – in a day! Wiltshire Heritage Museum

Stonehenge5photos by Pete Glastonbury, with permission

On Sunday (30 August, 2009 for those of you who are reading this from the future), Wiltshire Heritage Museum and Julian Richards held an event for families in which visitors could help build a partial Stonehenge replica. You may remember our announcement here. By all accounts, including this one, it was a success and a good time was had by all.Stonehenge6

We love the picture on the right. The excessively cute future archaeologist in pink  is putting everything on hold in order to take in what Mr. Richards is teaching them about Stonehenge.

The lesson we want to leave you with today: It’s never too early to introduce Stonehenge replica building to your children! And community Stonehenge building is bound to be the way it was originally done, no matter how Wally Wallington tries to convince people otherwise. Score: 6½ druids. Because while it’s only a trilithon, involving people in the project spreads the word. And, hey, it’s in Wiltshire–automatically more authentic! May this kind of event spread to archaeological museums everywhere.


Help Build a Stonehenge Replica – in a day!

Clonehengers, awake! We urge any of you within travel distance of Devizes to be at the Wiltshire Heritage Museum on Sunday (August 30, 2009) at 11:00 a.m., to help Mr. Julian Richards build a replica of Stonehenge with cardboard and wallpaper as materials. Julian Richards, as you may know, is a radio and television presenter best known for his work on the programme Meet the Ancestors, and is a Stonehenge expert.

The Museum notice is here and you can see an online article here. To quote the article, “Ali Rushent, education officer at Wiltshire Heritage Museum, said: ‘Julian hopes as many people as possible will turn up and give him a hand with this project.

‘The Stonehenge model could be quite a size. The tallest monolith is expected to be more than two metres high. The model is likely to fill the whole car park at the museum.’

Need we say more? If we could manage it, we would fly over from the States in order to be there. We have heard a rumour that Mr. Pete Glastonbury himself may be there, so perhaps we will have photos. But don’t think that lets you off the hook! We want to see your photos, too.

So be there or be . . . sort of circular with  a horse shoe shape inside. Remember, if you mention Clonehenge you get in free! ;-D

Marden Henge Model, A Curious Aside

MardenModelWHM 2

photo by Pete Glastonbury (yes, again!), with permission

This is not a Stonehenge replica. It’s not an Avebury replica. Marden Henge is, or perhaps was is the more appropriate verb here,  an irregular henge monument (with no stones in this case. See the definition of a henge monument here) in Wiltshire, located about halfway between Stonehenge and Avebury. It enclosed an even larger area than Avebury and had within it two mounds, one that was called Hatfield Barrow was in some ways similar to Silbury Hill, and was “scandalously destroyed.” (see The Modern Antiquarian page for Marden Henge.)

The Wiltshire Heritage Museum in Devizes has this model and was kind enough to present it so that it could be photographed for Clonehenge. Thank you. We urge readers to visit them and give them money. We’re sure they would be happy with just your petrol money. Walking is healthy, you know!

But back to Marden Henge. Wikipedia says: “Two remarkable tumuli formerly were in the neighbourhood, 240 feet in circuit, and 40 feet high; and are supposed, by some writers, to mark the scene of Ethelred’s defeat by the Danes in 871; but whether they were sepulchral barrows or the earthwork of an ancient British temple, is an open question.” Evidence suggests that wooden structure stood on top of the barrow. In the picture above, “on top of the Hatfield barrow is a model of Marden church to give you a sense of scale.” (from P. Glastonbury)

The whole thing reminds us very much of some of the irregular mound enclosures of Ohio. What was the use of these things, that they would arise independently on both sides of the Atlantic?

At any rate, records like this model take on increased importance when the thing being depicted has been destroyed or all but destroyed. We include it here because of that significance and, well, because someone sent it in. We depend on you, Alert Readers, to provide replica photos, because, frankly, we are growing lazy about spending long nights with Google searching every conceivable misspelling of Stonhedge.

We are grateful  to those who have been stepping up!

More Avebury–And We Thought There Were None!

AveburyModelWHM2 3

photos by Pete Glastonbury, with permission

Hello again from the amazing Wiltshire Heritage Museum in Devizes. Of course we’re not actually there, but we have a rich fantasy life! Today, thanks to our regular supplier of Afghani-grade Avebury photos, we have two Avebury models to post. Avebury is a very large stone circle in Wiltshire England. We hope you already knew that.

The model above is to be applauded for accuracy and detail. It shows the circle as it might have been in its heyday, with circles and avenues leading from the circle complete. Very nice. We would like it better without the labels, but we understand that in a museum, the point is to communicate knowledge and the labels serve that purpose.  8 druids for this one.

AveburyModelWHM 3And then there’s this one, depicting, as it might have been at its height, the entire Avebury region, or nearly so, as it excludes Windmill Hill and, of course, all the ancient crop circles. It includes various barrows, the serpentine avenues (which we discussed here), Silbury Hill, West Kennet Long Barrow, and if you look closely enough there may be a tiny model of Pete Glastonbury walking around taking pictures (or if there isn’t perhaps there should be). This, too, is an extraordinary piece of work, and we award it 8½ druids. We like to see the whole landscape represented!

The Wiltshire Heritage Museum is said to house numerous models of Stonehenge seen nowhere else, the amazing Celtic Cabinet, and, for now, Clonehenge’s favourite exhibition, Inspired by Stonehenge, which includes “a variety of objects, graphics, music and moving images including postcards and guidebooks, clothing, paperweights and snow globes, jigsaw puzzles, horse brasses, toasting forks and even a stamp from the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan that shows Disney characters Mickey Mouse and Pluto at Stonehenge. There is also a quantity of souvenir china – some more attractive than others. Once visitors have viewed the exhibition they can vote for the item they consider to be in the worst possible taste!” Bold emphasis added by us. People, does it get any better than that?!

Hours and admission fees for the museum can be seen here. Oh, and the site says “Youngsters are encouraged to be ‘Inspired by Stonehenge’, and are invited to send in photographs of their own Stonehenge models for display in the Museum over the summer.” We plan to lean on the museum a little in autumn, to get them to let us post the best–and perhaps the worst–ones they get. And you haven’t seen the last of Wiltshire Heritage Museum on this blog. More in a few days!

Avebury Model, Britton Cabinet

BrittonCabinetAvebury2photos by Pete Glastonbury, with permission

When we left you in the previous episode, Clonehenge was in the Wiltshire Heritage Museum examining the remarkable Britton Cabinet. Today Director David Dawson has kindly opened a drawer to show us the detailed Avebury model inside. Wow!

To refresh your memories, we have posted Avebury models before, of varying degrees of detail and accuracy, all, as it happens, found for us by the formidable Pete Glastonbury, champion of Wiltshire. One was lovely, but just the circle;  one was, well, clever but rudimentary; and the third, while it covered a good area and included Windmill Hill, which is a plus, lacked the crucial element of stones.

Compared to those, this is more like a William Stukeley drawing of the site in 3-D, and in fact it includes a drawing of Stukeley’s serpent interpretation of the Avebury landscape at the bottom.

serpentine templeStukeley proposed that the avenues of standing stones, now called Beckhampton and West Kennet Avenues, originally combined with the Avebury circle to form a glyph of a serpent passing through a ring, a traditional alchemical symbol. The head was formed by a circle now called the Sanctuary, alas devoid of stones in modern times, but once a double stone circle.

This model’s scale does not allow the entire “serpent” to be shown, so along with the drawing, it includes small models of the stones that make up its head and tail. Was a serpent really the builders’ intention? Hard to say, but the idea is the darling of those who strive to link megaliths and ancient sites around the world. It is certainly the kind of fancy that draws new people into the world of the megalith. Mind you, Stukeley was a brilliant observer, but he thought Avebury was a druid temple. ‘Nuff said.

Score for this Avebury replica: 9 druids. The only way you could improve upon it would be to make it much larger and show more of the landscape in scale: West Kennet Long Barrow, Silbury Hill, Windmill Hill, etc. It’s a delectable morsel for the megarak’s eye. Still, even that can’t prepare you for a walk among the stones themselves! May we all get that chance in our lifetimes.

Celtic Cabinet Stonehenge, Wiltshire Heritage Museum

BrittonCabinet stonehenge 2photos by Pete Glastonbury, with permission

The plaque on this cabinet in the Wiltshire Heritage Museum reads:

The Britton ‘Celtic’ Cabinet [Clonehenge thanks whoever is responsible for those single quotation marks!] The cabinet was originally made in about 1824 for G Watson Taylor, MP for Erlestoke. It is made in the shape of one of the trilithons at Stonhenge [sic], with pollarded elm and birds eye maple veneer, and contains inset watercolours by contemporary artists including Cotman. By 1832 it had been acquired by the historian John Britton (1771-1857) and stood in his library, where it housed manuscripts and drawings. It was bought by the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society in 1853.

BrittonCabinet chThe replica at the top of this post, seen in glass on top of the cabinet, is one of the cork models by Henry Browne, whom we have mentioned before. On the left side of the ‘trilithon’ you can see a charming watercolour of an aerial view of Stonehenge. A similar picture of Avebury is on the right. The other painted panels are hard to make out, but the bottom right is Stonehenge again. Others seem to represent a concession that Wiltshire doesn’t own the megalith franchise.

This is an absolutely fabulous bit of megalithia, in our not-all-that-humble opinions. So much so that we are giving the Avebury model inside the cabinet a post of its own, to follow in a few days.

BrittonCabinet2 ch

Score: 8½ druids. It might have been 9 if it weren’t for that word Celtic in its name. Our thanks to Pete G. for bringing this amazing item to our attention!