Planned: A 21st Century Stonehenge

Plans are afoot to build a “21st century monument” in Wiltshire, based upon an interpretation of Stonehenge.

The project is being organised by Colin Shearing, of Preseli Bluestones Limited, who has stated

“We don’t want to replicate Stonehenge as it stands today but rather as how it would have looked when completed about 4000 years ago.”

The new monument will be built from stone shipped from Colin’s quarry in Preseli, Wales, which will be used to build the inner circle. Other types of stone sourced from around the world to complete the trilithons and other circles.

21st Century Stonehenge

The project aims to use modern and traditional methods to raise the stones, and community involvement will be a big part of it. The stone circle will be aligned with the equinoxes and solstices, and hopes to be a “living laboratory for academics as well as an educational visitor attraction”.

As well as a large stone circle, there will also be a visitors centre on the site, which will take the form of a very large Neolithic burial chamber, possibly not unlike that of Newgrange in Ireland. We are reassured that “guides will not be dressed as druids”!

Interestingly, Colin Shearing describes the monument as “…primarily a landmark architectural heritage sculpture”, which draws influence from the appearance from Stonehenge, rather than trying to faithfully to recreate it.

There will undoubtedly be a fair bit of scorn from archaeologists, so this project won’t be without argument and controversy. Many will claim that it’s just plain wrong, as there is no evidence to suggest that the “X and Y” holes (the two concentric rings of holes just outside the outer circle of trilithons) ever contained stones, let alone in the shapes suggested by this project. And that’s just one example…

However, so long as authenticity isn’t made a big issue by the organisers, I think that a piece of sculpture that mimics Stonehenge, but does its own thing at the same time is a great idea. I have no doubt, after visiting the polystyrene replica made last year, that visiting this new monument will be rather awe-inspiring, be it a solstice or not.

Read what the BBC have to say about the project.

And please, please, no Spinal Tap comments please! These are going to be real stones 😉

4 Responses to Planned: A 21st Century Stonehenge

  1. teflonjedi 20 May, 2006 at 2:47 am #

    And please, please, no Spinal Tap comments please! These are going to be real stones 😉

    You’re taking away from all my fun!

  2. aaroscape 21 May, 2006 at 4:02 pm #

    Could be really interesting. Why not have a Stonehenge for the 21st century? If they don’t attmept to make a ‘definative’ Stonehenge and make an interpretation then it has the potential to be pretty damn good.

  3. courgettelawn 31 May, 2006 at 10:33 am #

    I think this is a fantastic project. No pretentions either from neo-pagan claims of a continuity of tradition, neither from the Stonehenge fanatics point of view to create a (I hate this word) ‘faithful’ reproduction. Much admiration for someone who so wisely chooses to spend his money, make a statement and yet manage to avoid becoming a media tart. I’m looking forward to seeing it when it’s up.

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  1. tehmina.org » Blog Archive » Solstice daisies - 25 June, 2006

    […] Solstice daisies Before dawn on 21 June a group of 11 people made their way to a meadow in Wiltshire. The journey was made to found and witness the Circle in the West, a new stone momument that will comprise seven ‘circles’ in homage to Stonehenge. The dawn was clearing as Sun was about to break the flat horizon and we were all quieted by the spectacle in front of us while archaeological surveyors plotted the various angles and positions of the sun rise in relation to the centre point of the Circle. The Ox-eye daisies (the day’s eyes) unfurled and stretched in recognition of it. There was no overt ritual or founding speech. We all were, and the Circle came to be. A great sense of occasion without the need to be vocal or large-gestured. The Circle in the West will give people the best idea yet possible of what Stonehenge looked and felt like when it was ‘first’ built. This in itself happened over a long period of time in about three phases, first c.3,100 BCE a circle of timbers surrounded by a bank and ditch, second c.2,500 BCE the henge is rebuilt in stone using Preseli blue stone from South Wales, and third c. 2,300 BCE after what seems like an abandonment of the site, the henge was expanded to something that resembles its remains today – that is, the re-erection of the blue stones in their current positions and giant sandstone Sarsens from the Marlborough Downs which, among other features, form the unmistakable trilithons. There is also a ring of ‘x and y holes’ which some have posited might have been prepared for a ring of stones that were never erected. The Circle in the West will include these. The stones for the Circle will come from all over the world and when polished up will represent each of the seven colours of the rainbow (not dyed or tinted, the colour will be the natural hue of the rock so the effect quite subtle but dramatic). The new circle will have polished blue stones from an extant quarry in Preseli.  The blue stones are dolorite, an extremely hard rock that is midnight blue (indigo) with small flecks of other colours such as green and grey, quite different to the eroded lichen-covered and pock-marked grey of the stones at Stonehenge today. Other rocks will come from Agra (’red’ stone also used in the building of Taj Mahal), Norway (blue rocks with large flecks of quartz crystal), Canada (green), Jerusalem sandstone (yellow, also used in the building of Solomon’s Temple) and a ring of amethyst may form the middle ring of purple. People will not only be able to visit the Circle but there are also plans for a visitor centre that will explain something of the fasination humans have and continue to have with megaliths and stone circles, as well as provide learning and information about the natural environment in which the Circle will exist. The building and planning of the Circle and its visitor centre will hopefully include local people from its adjacent communities, scientists, astrologers, astromomers, archaeologists, natural historians, ecologists, botanists, meglithophiles, healers, Druids, musicians, acousticians, writers, artists, perhaps a hippy or two and anyone with a vested interest in showing what wonders can be made when combining inspiration from the past, a naturally beautiful environment and good minds. Whatever the opinions about the merits of this project (which will not be seeking public funds but rather sustain itself in a not-for-profit manner), I feel it will be a 21st century momument to cherish as much as our old friend that was built over a period of at least 800 years. As I said in response to the announcement of the project, there are no neo-pagan pretentions here for any continuity of tradition or a ‘right’ to worship, neither from Stonehenge fanatics who may seek to replicate the ancient henge momument. The Circle will indeed be a fine co-creation.  Thoughts from others at Past Thinking and from Pete Glastonbury. […]