Stonehenge stories on Twitter

How to Build Stonehenge comes out on February 17 2022. Published by Thames & Hudson, it has lots of illustrations (including new photos and diagrams by me) and is the first book to focus exclusively and comprehensively on this theme, since… the nearest equivalent I know is Herbert Stone’s The Stones of Stonehenge, published in 1924. I conceived it as a light, lockdown project (a short book with no illustrations, it’ll be done in three months, I assured my family) but once I began I got sucked in; there was a lot to say: to a lay readership, I suspect, most of it is new. I’m very excited about it.

When it was finished I put a Stonehenge photo in my Twitter profile, and now I’m changing it every week. Here they are with their stories, the most recent at the top – all photos taken by me.

This is the top end of Stone 9, on the south-east side of the sarsen circle. The stone fell outwards at some unknown time in the past, and is in two, weathered pieces (this is 9b). In the centre of the photo a rounded bump emerges from the grass. This is the remains of a tenon, a ball that once rose into a hole on the underside of a lintel. Such evidence is important for showing that the circle was once complete, though many stones are now gone. Photographed in July 2012.

This is Foamhenge, created by Crawley Creatures and Darlow Smithson Productions for Channel 5 in 2005. I was the on-screen archaeological consultant.

In 1983, when I was curator of Avebury museum, I was asked to monitor the removal of graffiti that had appeared overnight on two stones. POMPEY (the Portsmouth football team) was written on one, and the other had a blue wash. Sand blasting had already begun when I arrived and (rightly or wrongly) it seemed to me that lichen and possibly even sarsen was being removed, so I stopped it at once. I can’t remember how they got the stuff off in the end.

During a hot July in 2013 Simon Banton and Tim Daw, then working for English Heritage, noticed parchmarks in the grass and told archaeologists about them. They revealed features never seen before, including a possible new ring of prehistoric pits, and stoneholes that completed the sarsen circle. The brown area here has never been excavated (as far as we know), and may show a former gravel-paved area.

This is the entrance to the old car park in June 2013, when works were underway to the west to build a new visitor centre. The passing road is the A344, which beyond the signs at the back is being ripped up prior to turfing over.

A more conventional view of Stonehenge, here looking east towards the trees on King Barrow Ridge.

This was at a curious event in October 2006, when someone had (presumably) paid English Heritage to allow them to launch a gas-filled dirigible at the stones to promote their website, to which they (naturally) invited some pagans.

I brought out a Station Stone in this shot with some flash against a sunset, a crop from one of my old Kodachromes.

8 thoughts on “Stonehenge stories on Twitter

  1. Hi Mike. The ?gravelled area shows clearly as a lighter patch on Google Earth in 2005 and 2017, when the former pathway is also visible. Earlier years are too blurry but it might be possible to obtain RAF or commercial aerial shots.

  2. Love the cover. Well done on grinding it out. The muse has rather left me at the moment; that said I do bang out several thousand words a week for never-read consultancy reports. Never-read … bit like most of my academic stuff was !

    Dr Paul Stamper, FSA

    Paul Stamper Heritage

    01832 280344 07507 720397

    1. Thanks Paul. You know as an academic that your research will be read by colleagues and a few others. It gets bad though when you sense not even they read it

  3. I think you’ve missed the point here, Mike. Pompey is the nickname for the Portsmouth football team, not Southampton (the “Saints”). Saints fans (like me) would never do anything so disrespectful 🙂

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