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Stonehenge: Myths, Facts, Fiction, and Literature

Stonehenge: Myths, Facts, Fiction, and Literature – The Journal of Antiques and Collectibles – April 2012

By Pamela E. Apkarian-Russell, The Halloween Queen®

On days when the fog and mist do not envelop the standing stones, and the dawn rises crisp and clear, or on starry nights when the moon is full and bright, you can see from the highway the majesty of what is perhaps, the oldest standing monument on earth. It adorns Salisbury Plain as a crown of glittering glimmering jewels, and leaves the world standing in awe at its majesty and might.

Seeing Stonehenge is an electrifying experience, even today when you are no longer allowed to walk among the stones and touch them feeling their magnetic essence. Their power and beauty is almost an epiphany, a religious stirring and awakening from some prehistoric past. Stonehenge puts into perspective mankind’s insignificance in relation to the earth which these great standing stones seem to grow out of. And yet the great stones congregate there on the plain because of man’s colossal efforts many thousands of years ago.

So much has been written about the standing stones that is sheer nonsense and so much has been written based on fact as it was perceived at the time it was written, and so much romance and fantasy has swirled about the stones that it is not surprising that one can accumulate a significant library on the topic. There are thousands of printed images of Stonehenge and other standing stones that have been produced over the past century or two and all of them slightly different. Some even show major differences due to the ravages of not time but humankind. Knock them down and use them for building houses, hack off a piece as a souvenir, deface them with putridly personalized graffiti, treat them with disrespect and disdain or fear and they still will dominate the landscape and expose the soul of the land and the ancient ancestors who planted the seeds of civilization in the Celtic Lands. They are immortal and will remain whether humankind survives or not.

Stonehenge has been much in the news because of excavations and research. These are pretty exciting times for global aficionados of Stonehenge as well as those millions who have made the Mecca from around the world to see one of the greatest monuments of humankind. When Stonehenge was vandalized again people around the world were outraged. Unfortunately, this is the way of humankind for some to build, for some to enjoy, for some to research and record, and for some to destroy. It seems that even though they are a protected historical monument, some people feel it is quite proper to destroy prehistoric Pagan sites since they do not agree with their particular beliefs.

Because so much has been written about what Stonehenge is, it is interesting to take a look at what people have written that is totally fictional, fantasy, literature or lunacy. There are countless images on postcards, books, booklets, replicas, and paintings. There are those who are obsessed with this edifice and few are modern Druids let alone ancient ones. Students of the site, fiction writers, historical prevaricators intent on rewriting history, artists, and madmen, etc. are just a few who have added to the wealth of Stonehenge collectible material.

One of the better know modern illustrations is from the book [amazon_link id=”1854790927″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Diary of a Victorian Mouse[/amazon_link] illustrated by Angel Dominguez and written by Lloyd Richard Arcade Publishing, New York 1991. Dominguez, a Spanish Artist whose work appears in many important galleries in the lands of the EEC is considered to be the successor of Arthur Rackham and his original works may sell in the thousands. The book is available on the secondary market for approximately $20. The original painting resides at Castle Halloween Museum in West Virginia, USA and has been used in the Stenlake Publishing book [amazon_link id=”1840334339″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Stonehenge-Myth, Mystery and Fog[/amazon_link] which depicts a photograph of a Harley Davidson Motorcycle in front of two women in their automobile. The image of what was modern technology of the day in front of this ancient monument is even more poignant when considering what our modern day equivalents would look like superimposed in front of these vintage vehicles. The vintage postcards depicted on the inside are just as revealing as one sees the changing condition of not only the stones themselves but different modes of pioneer aviation such as bi-planes and dirigibles. The painting is valued at $2,000 and the photograph is valued at $200. Values of most postcards will range between one dollar and $15. Stonehenge postcards are readily available on the market so unless the real photo image is spectacular they do not demand high prices. Printed cards from the government printing office in the UK only fetch a few dollars because they are so common.

So why, except for paintings, when the collectibles of the monument fetch such low prices, is there such a large amount of books and prints available on the market and why do they sell so well? Price does not dictate everything as interest is renewed daily as tourists go to see the site, archeologists and historians speculate and research it, artists sketch it, photographers click away, and Druids worship at it. The myth and mystery of Stonehenge, the endless theories and legends, have affected many in numerous ways, how we perceive it and why so many are fascinated by it from the time of Julius Caesar to the present. Coupled with the constant silly theories that come out in the news papers periodically the legends and scientific theories lacking in fact or reason never cease to fascinate people almost as much as the archeological research, and sometimes more. Stonehenge has been a muse for bards, and poets, and painters, and other artistic literi for centuries. Unfortunately it also attracts a few more than eccentric pseudo scholars whose fantasy glands are in psychotic overdrive. This is fascinating reading.

Post cards of cave men scattering in all directions as a cigar smoking sea monster is devouring them, is quite amusing especially considering the heights of some of the stones and that the primitive men are able to climb up and straddle the stones in a leap and a bound, with out ladders or Superman powers. “To leap tall buildings…” It is acceptable for a cartoonist to do something but certainly not someone to write something as if it were scientific or medical fact. Novels, especially historical novels, are full of historical inaccuracies but the authors and poets know they are writing fiction and they have carte blanche to do so. But…

On Sunday July 6th, 2003 the Observer printed a story based on an article by Anthony Perks in the Royal Society of Medicine Journal. Gynecologists worldwide must have been ecstatic to find that Stonehenge was built to look like the female sexual organ as seen from above. Perks had this epiphany while viewing it from a plane! Then of course there is the theory that Martians built Stonehenge. Or that it was a pre St. Andrews golf course for dinosaurs. Collectors of Stonehenge memorabilia and books happily add this nonsense to their archives. One cannot help but quote Lloyd Richard who wrote the text for Angel Dominquez’s [amazon_link id=”1854790927″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Diary of a Victorian Mouse[/amazon_link] in 1991

[quote style=”boxed”]“…Professors meet at ancient places
(see how serious are their faces)
To argue why and where they came from:
Who put these piles here anyway?
What mouse could carry them alone?
Look at that big, that heavy stone!
It must have come from far away.”[/quote](sometimes professors are very dumb!)

Of course they came from far away the Giants carried them from Ireland. Or was it Merlin who levitated them from Ireland? No it was his sister, Gwenddydd who was a greater wizard than Merlin and brought them to Salisbury plain as a balsam for Merlin’s troubled mind and soul. Ah the mystery of it all. What must the soldiers who were camped on Salisbury Plain during WWII have thought? During WWII the army tested flash photography using planes to determine if it was possible to take photographs 5,000 feet up so that they could be used for spying behind enemy lines. These tests eventually evolved into the electric speed flash. What would Merlin or the ancient Druids have thought of those planes flying over their monument let alone strobe lights?

Not only has Stonehenge inspired literature, and artists but it has become a symbol to be recreated, after a fashion. In Maryhill, Washington a full scale model made of 1650 tons of reinforced concrete poured into wrinkled metal molds was dedicated in 1918 but not completed until 1931. Sam Hill was a Quaker and a pacifist. Lord Kitchener had told Hill that the Druids sacrificed to the gods of war there. Kitchener was incorrect but it inspired Hill to build his Stonehenge and dedicate it to the WWI soldiers of Klichitat County. “Humanity is still being sacrificed to the gods of war.” It was the first monument to honor the war dead in this country. Unfortunately, the monument was not aligned properly and is three degrees off counterclockwise.

In Canada a Stonehenge was made of out of discarded refrigerators and here in the USA another was built of automobiles. However most tourists are quite happy taking home one of the many small replicas that cost between $8-35. The National Heritage store at Stonehenge sells oodles of items from mugs to prints, books to fine china at reasonable prices and the profits go toward maintaining and restoring the monument and grounds.

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Because it is so mysterious and inspiring the amount of photographs, paintings and postcards are innumerable. The painting by Claire Colmes in 1902 is only worth about $100. A romanticized rendition, but esthetically pleasing. Paintings can run into the many thousands of dollars depending on the artist.

There are thousands of different photographs and postcards and you really have to search for the rarer renditions. The comic photo of Edwardian super star actress Miss Zena Dare is very ethereal depicting her as a moon goddess looking down at primitive mortals at their fire outside of the great stones. Valued at $15. One of the fun items of ephemera is a 10 card set put out by E&W Anstie Ltd Tobacco Factory. It is a mini puzzle easy to put together and pleasant to look at when assembled, value $35. Erdal Marke Rolfrasch Kwak Bahnerwachs (German) advertising card is $15. Then of course there is the Arthur Moreland comic card series #271C which shows Queen Boadicea leading her troops into battle in AD61. Boadicea was a nightmare for the Romans that wanted to rule Britain. In one battle with General Suetonius she wiped out 70,000 of his men. She was eventually defeated as Rome could not tolerate such a defeat especially by a woman and rather than allow herself to be captured and led through the streets of Rome in chains during a victory parade she quaffed a goblet of poison. The semblance of the Queen is nothing like the proud and warlike defender of her country.

Humor can be caught in its own time warp. Value is $12. As for books they have been written on Stonehenge for centuries and most of them totally inaccurate as they were written by concurring enemies of Britain and or the Druids. Times have changed and from Victorian times to present many well researched volumes have been written as well as poetry and literature. The social history of Stonehenge has been well documented for the past 200 years. However, its origins are still shrouded in mystery and dreams just as it is today. So whether you believe the Martians built it or the Norse or Merlin’s sister is not as important as the fact that Stonehenge still holds its magnetism and will continue to be painted, written about, investigated and dreamed about centuries from now. Stonehenge is not a subject which there is oodles of items of great value to collect. Most collectors are either professionals in the field or are just in awe of and love this site so collectors and those fascinated by Stonehenge and any of the other henge type Prehistoric sites tend to acquire everything and anything they can.

My theory? I feel that Stonehenge was meant for a gathering of the Celts to sing and dance, feast and renew old friendships, make marriages, exchange news etc. The singing and dancing were to resonate and activate the magnetism of the stones. I still feel there is a time portal there to be activated.

So perhaps, I am as daft as others who feel this magnificent monument is a major clue to life the universe and everything and everyone.

All items are either on display or available to be seen at Castle Halloween Museum.

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