BEST STONEHENGE REPLICA EVER: Built Near Stonehenge by Hollywood!

14435332_1171416266251801_4710163879059137972_o.jpg

Transformers 5 Stonehenge replica, photo by Rose Senior

This is it—the new standard for hengers everywhere! It is only a partial replica, but the part they did build captures the feel of the real—the right size, shapes, proportions, placement, colours, indentations, markings. Attention was paid to the real thing.

We don’t know what it’s made of or who made it, but we do know the why. It was created for scenes in the fifth and latest movie in the Transformers franchise, a film series based on, well, toys, not to put too fine a point on it. We laugh, but the Transformers series of movies is the: “4th highest-grossing when averaged to gross per film, behind the The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Pirates of the Caribbean film series.” So says Wikipedia. Big movie stars including Anthony Hopkins, Mark Wahlberg, and Stanley Tucci will be in this film. In fact, the first two were in Wiltshire this past week filming at Stonehenge and at the replica, and possibly at a rumoured secret second replica (!!!).

There is money behind this film. Big money. It is safe to say that this is the most expensive Stonehenge replica ever created. And we must say, we are impressed with what money can do! Brilliant work has been done in shaping, placing, and colouring these ‘stones’. They are so well done that even as respected an institution as the Daily Mail briefly published an article with pictures of it that claimed it was the real Stonehenge.

Screen Shot 2016-10-02 at 8.38.08 AM.png

This picture’s caption in the Daily Mail read: “The replica was so realistic it led many to claim the original structure had in fact been used by the filmmakers.” (And that ‘many’ seem to have been writers for the Mail.)

The figure standing in the above picture is Anthony Hopkins. We don’t often get to see celebrities at Stonehenge replicas, so we just wanted to point this out. This is henging at a whole other level.

Making false things appear real is what Hollywood excels at. In this case, how did they do it? There is a lot we don’t know, but the marvelous Rose Senior captured a bit of the magic and is kindly willing to share it with readers of the Clonehenge blog. The following photos show fake lichen being applied to the replica stones, and in one we see pictures of the lichen on the real stones, used as guidance for the ‘painters’ of the false ones.

14500580_1171416732918421_7070511204232284749_o.jpg

‘Lichen’ being applied to the ‘stones’. Photo by Rose Senior.

14446177_1171416932918401_1164721007702223551_n.jpg

Pictures of the real stones being used to guide one of the painters of the replica stones. Photo by Rose Senior.

Rose tells us that when the paint was being thrown at the stones, it made a hollow sound. It isn’t surprising that the stones were hollow, but the question of the material involved remain tantalisingly unanswered. The hollowness of these stones, which were just by Bilbury Rings Hillfort off the A303, also brings us back to rumours of a second and mysterious Stonehenge replica, secreted somewhere in the Wiltshire countryside. Hollow stones might not be ideal to use if you want a good scene of Stonehenge being blown up (and blowing things up is another thing Hollywood and in particular this film series is known for), so might the rumoured secret replica be solid and possibly smaller, built solely for blowing up and exploding the stones in a visually satisfying manner? That is our guess.

If anyone has further information (or photos!) on the rumoured replica or on the materials and creators of the known one, please tell us and we will add the information to this post. There are so many things our inquiring minds want to know! It is exciting to have Hollywood with its famous people and huge quantities of money walk right into our wheelhouse, so to speak.

Once again we are left to marvel at how many walks of life a fascination with Stonehenge replicas can draw one into. Science, religion, art, foods, politics, movies—Stonehenge replicas are built in connection with all these topics and more. Not to mention little toy cars that can change into monsters!

And with that profound philosophical note, we wish you all, friends, some very happy henging!

P.S.: Our thanks to Rose Senior, Tim Daw, Simon Banton, and @Fromegooner for help with this post!

Happy Solstice! A Long Post for the Longest Day!

IMG_0408

The famous Britton “Celtic” Cabinet at the Wiltshire Museum in Devizes

Greetings and a very happy solstice to all of you out there in the increasingly strange world of now! We know that people generally don’t find time to read blog posts anymore, what with one apocalypse or another looming at any given moment, but in a contrary spirit we have decided to write a longer one than usual. But with pictures, so there’s that!

As some of you may know, a little over a year ago, the entire staff of the Clonehenge blog flew over the sea to the centre of henging contagion, that hulking grey pile of construction debris on Salisbury Plain, Stonehenge itself. We posted in October about the unabashed promotion of Stonehenge replicas we discovered at the shop in the Stonehenge Visitor Centre, but we have yet to share our other extraordinary encounters with replicas shown us by friends of the Clonehenge blog in the area.

The first of these was a huge concrete trilithon, currently being stored at the farm of Mr. Tim Daw  whose name may be familiar to Stonehenge fans as a result of theories and discoveries he made while employed at Stonehenge. He is also known for his remarkable construction, the Long Barrow at Al Cannings. He kindly treated us to a tour of that beautiful modern long barrow, and then, knowing our interests, led us through chalk mud, a remarkably clingy substance, to the three pieces of the trilithon, currently not set up as a trilithon but in repose. The two uprights, we are told, weigh 40 Tonnes each and the lintel 10 and a half!

IMG_9398

concrete trilithon in the Vale of Pewsy (the markings are not tribal, 😉  but were painted there for visibility on the lorry journey to where they now rest)

These “stones” were used in the 1996 BBC documentary Secrets of Lost Empires: Stonehenge to to represent the stones of Stonehenge’s largest trilithon, in an attempt to demonstrate how those and the other large stones at Stonehenge may have been moved. We assume their length includes the section that in the original stones extended underground to keep them steady and upright. Pictures on this page show their size better than our poor picture above. They are imposing in person, even lying down. Mr. Daw and others are hoping to use them again to test various Stone-Age-appropriate methods for transporting and erecting megaliths, for a programme on how Stonehenge may have been constructed. We look forward to that!

For the next couple days of our trip, we enjoyed the wonders of Wiltshire, its landscape, and many ancient stones and sites (including Stonehenge in the pouring rain, a quintessentially British experience not to be missed unless you have the opportunity to see it in any other weather!). Those days were overwhelmingly beautiful and fascinating, and we extend our thanks to many people for going out of their ways to make it so.

IMG_0241

West Kennet Long Barrow with Terence Meaden, who was kind enough to accompany us there and share his knowledge

And then, on our final day in that county, probably still bearing chalk mud in the treads of our shoes, we visited the Wiltshire Museum in the town of Devizes in the company of long-time friend of the blog Pete Glastonbury. There, to our astonishment, we were greeted by people who already knew of the name of Clonehenge, and who were therefore willing to reveal to us deeply secret Stonehenge models  hidden from the prying eyes of the general public! (Or, yes, possibly just Stonehenge models that would be of absolutely no interest to anyone one but us, but let us have our fantasies.)

After a few minutes surveying small Stonehenge models available in the museum shop, we were introduced to none other than Director David Dawson and led upstairs to view the wonderful Britton Cabinet whose picture adorns the top of this post. We posted about it on this blog years ago, with photos by Mr. Glastonbury, but it was another thing to see it in person! If we described it in detail, this post would be insufferably long (like it is already, only more so), but as it says on this page, “Integral to the design of the cabinet are three models of Stonehenge and Avebury made by Henry Browne.” We are not ashamed to say that we were moved to see in person some of the historical Stonehenge models made by Mr. Henry Browne himself. Browne’s models were, as far as we can tell, the first Stonehenge models to become popular enough to create a demand. The sale of small Stonehenges that we see today in such profusion probably started with him!

A drawer of the cabinet was opened for us, and protective covering carefully lifted from a model so that we might see it. Unlike the model under coloured glass atop the cabinet, which is meant to show the monument as it now stands, this one represents Stonehenge as it is thought to have looked before the destructive forces of time acted upon it.

IMG_0423

in the drawer, a Henry Browne model

IMG_0432

model of Avebury in a drawer of the cabinet, overseen by Pete Glastonbury

When we had finished looking at and photographing the cabinet and its contents, Mr. Dawson then kindly brought out two more Stonehenge models: a resin one made by Michael Postins, who made the ‘template’ for models sold by English Heritage for tourists,

IMG_0442

resin model by Michael Postins, here held by Director Dawson

and a smaller metal one with various military badges, a bit eccentric, which, of course, appeals to us. No history is known for this, but it’s a nice portrayal with stones that look a bit organic, as if they were about to come to life.

IMG_0433

There is much more to the museum, of course, including fascinating and beautiful artefacts from Wiltshire, some found at and near Stonehenge and thought to have belonged to the ancient people who built it and celebrated there. If you’re visiting Stonehenge and want more of its story, you should make a point to stop at the Wiltshire Museum.

We had many more adventures worth telling, and saw more Stonehenge and Avebury models on our trip. But solstice awaits, and the long journey toward shorter days. If you have read this far, we thank you for your time. There truly is a wonderful world of Stonehenge replicas out there, and wonderful people who make them or are fascinated by them. Until next time, friends, happy henging!

The New Stonehenge Project in Wiltshire, Your Legacy Sailing into the Future!

A mockup of the New Stonehenge, with permission from Mr. Colin Shearing.

A mockup of the New Stonehenge, used with permission from Mr. Colin Shearing.

It has been announced with great fanfare. Even a BBC article has announced the unveiling of the plans for this grand Stonehenge for the new millenium, its site only four miles from the original. The plans are unexpectedly elaborate, including a flooring of white quartz granite, a moat, gardens, and yurts for visitors who wish to spend the night.

Consider all of that, along with uprights that are to be of various colored stone types from around the world, eight gates, a white wall, and a visitor center and exhibition domes that will be built to look like Newgrange: and of all this the project leader, Colin Shearing said, “It’s going to look like Stonehenge as we believe it looked as it was new.” and “You can’t really experience how [Stonehenge] was when it was new because it’s old, so a new one would give you an opportunity to experience what our ancestors experienced when they went to the original one.

By “experience what the ancestors experienced”, does he mean a simulation of the way things look when you take psilocybin mushrooms, as our ancestors probably did? Because this New Stonehenge is beginning to sound more like an elaborate American cemetery than like anything resembling the original Stonehenge and its surroundings.

Still, that doesn’t mean that Clonehenge doesn’t fully support this effort! We do, most emphatically. This is the most ballyhooed and trumpeted Stonehenge replica project of all time, or at least for all of the centuries during which the Clonehenge blog has been operational.

The build-up and fanfare so far has been sensational. The plans are unbelievably elaborate and posh. The work is being done to have an environmental impact study of the planned site completed. Only one major piece needs to fall into place. It’s not so major, actually. After all, it’s just money. That’s right, folks, they lack funding. And that’s where YOU come in. The site says,

New Stonehenge is to be a Global Legacy Monument built to last 5000 years like Stonehenge itself.

 The New Stonehenge project has now devised a strategy whereby 30,000 families from around the globe become the project’s founding families; the people who really make this project become a reality.

This set of sponsors gets a brick of Preseli bluestone engraved with their names, or the names of their choice, and set into the wall around the monument. They and their descendants will have free access to the monument in perpetuity. They get a plaque to keep in their home, and, (drumroll), t-shirts! All for the tidy sum of  £700. If you’re interested, the information can be found here.

We may seem to be making light of it. (That’s what we do.) But the fact is, if you’re looking for a way to commemorate your name or the memory of a loved one, associating it with a monument that might still be standing thousands of years ago is an uplifting way to go. These names will be seen by people who visit for concerts, festivals, weddings, and other events, or just to see the monument and gardens. This Stonehenge will be like a glorious steam ship steaming ahead, not across the sea but across time, carrying the memory of those who had the foresight and vision to see it built and secured.

IF it is actually built. That remains to be seen.

Someday we would like to see a replica built that is truly based on Stonehenge as we see it now, imitating the shape of each stone and extrapolating from that to just how the original builders saw it when it was complete. This is not that project. But a large Stonehenge replica/sculpture in Wiltshire, so near the original would be wonderful to see. Maybe we could have a Clonehenge party at its opening! As things develop with the New Stonehenge, we will keep you posted.

Until then, friends, happy henging!

(Please read Colin Shearing’s comment below for a better description and explanation than we had room for here.)

More Old Film: Model of an Avebury Stone

photos and film link sent us by Pete Glastonbury, used with permission

Apparently posting about Stonehenge replicas is, well, just not obscure and geeky enough for us. Otherwise why would we be so delighted to bring you this odd trifle–a film from 1955, narrated by well-known British writer and television personality John Betjeman, that includes, for a few seconds, the above model showing how the  stones of the Avebury monument may have been erected? [for those who don’t know about Avebury, see here.]

We’ve posted some other Avebury models. That all started because someone mentioned and we concurred that Avebury is so much larger and impressive than Stonehenge yet there didn’t appear to be any Avebury replicas. Friend of the blog and well-known ancient sites photographer Pete Glastonbury proceeded to come up with not one but several small Avebury models and we couldn’t resist posting them.

This is very much the same story, except this time the only record we have of the model is this film, from about 2:08 to 2:18, minutes and seconds in. Then it goes on to the beakers of the Beaker Culture who are thought to have built Avebury and much of Stonehenge. That, like the rest of the film, is worth a look, of course, but our focus is on those ten seconds showing the model from the museum in Avebury (no doubt the one we know as the Alexander Keiller Museum–we’ve posted models from them before).

Among the things we enjoyed in the film are the certainty about the purpose of Avebury–burial, and about how the stones were erected–with poles and rawhide ropes.  We’re accustomed to much more speculation about these things now. And then there’s this sentence “What makes Avebury so strange is its sinister atmosphere.” Not everyone would agree about that, judging from accounts we’ve heard and from our own visit. Sinister is not a word we would use for the broad sunny expanse we encountered those many years ago!

First broadcast on 23 September 1955, this was the first of twenty six in the series Discovering Britain. We’re not sure whether the others are available. No score for this little stone model. It’s just to enjoy.

We’re starting to think we like this film theme and may just keep it up, on and off for a while as the Academy Awards ceremony approaches. A surprising number of films, better known than this one, featured Stonehenge or its likeness, and since most could not film at the real thing, replicas were made. Try to think of a few more films with Stonehenge-ish things in them, and see if we come up with the same list.

Until we meet again, Happy henging!

[Note: we’re told, by @Avebury_News on Twitter, that this model is still in the stables museum.]

Share