Thursday, 16 August 2007

The last post

Well - we are all done now, so it is time to say goodbye. Thank you all for watching! In particular:
  • Brian and Lizzie Sanders for increasing the amount of human happiness in the world
  • everyone who has commented on Cardhenge, either on the blog or in person, especially unkle e for commenting beyond the call of duty
  • English Heritage for selling the model to us in the first place and for deciding to put it back on sale again
  • the makers of Copydex glue
  • all those top people who make Lego
  • our unnamed employer for lunchtime goodwill on an epic level
  • neolithic humans for giving us the idea in the first place.
We may come back this way in the future if we get any more Cardhenge related ideas, but in the meantime all that remains is to load up one final photo, and to say bye bye, that's it, the end.

In the quiet of night

Here we see Cardhenge by night. An eerie silence has descended over the ancient site and it will not be long before equinox returns and the stones are cloaked in mist (well, dust actually). The lego men are safely tucked up in their beds but we hope to see them for the final time very soon.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Sunrise over the Heel Stone and Slaughter Stone

Hello! We have now made the Heel Stone and Slaughter Stone, and have positioned them at the correct scale distance from the centre circle. (This meant printing out lots and lots of extra grass and sticking it to the back of an old exhibition display board.) The completed Cardhenge is now almost as impressive as the real shebang.

What has proven to be well tricky is photographing a fake sunrise over the stones... This is the best shot, and even so it's not as good as we had hoped. It has proven impossible with our kit to get the main stones, the Heel Stone and the "sun" all in focus. Ah well.

More to follow!

Thursday, 9 August 2007

Nearly finished

Almost there... I'm halfway through making the Heel Stone and Soo has almost completed the Slaughter Stone. These two stones aren't in the normal pack but were sent to us separately by Cardhenge's creators. They have even sent some grass to put them on!

The Slaughter Stone is a fallen sarsen, one of three originally guarding the northwest portal, while the Heel Stone is even further out, by the modern road. At midsummer sunrise the sun casts a beam of light across the top of the Heel Stone, past the Slaughter Stone and into the very centre of the monument. We may try to recreate this next week, before we finally wrap up this project and say our goodbyes.

Monday, 6 August 2007


It was Alan's birthday on Friday and one of our colleagues (another Sue) thought that it would be a great idea if we could make a Stonehenge cake. Also, this seems to have coincided nicely with the completion of the offical Cardboard Stonehenge pack. Here are two pictures: one of me struggling to keep the trilithons upright whilst making Cakehenge and one of the finished edible monument. The cake is a Victoria sponge topped with green butter icing. The stones were also made of sponge. I coated these with icing sugar to which I added a little blueberry juice in an attempt to create a natural grey but the stones seemed to have turned out a kind of purple colour. In fact, the whole cake looks a little psychedelic. I expect it will be interpreted as being symbolic of the effects of 'cake' in the Chris Morris sense of the noun.

Beautiful summer sunshine

Today Soo and I added stones 43 and 31 which are the two last stones in the packet. So officially we have now finished! It is beautifully sunny here in the UK, so we carried Cardhenge out onto the verdant lawn in front of our offices to take the formal photographs. Here's a shot looking across the lawn.

And here's one looking the other way, back towards where we work:

The outdoors summer daylight casts a nice clear light on the stones, which until now had only been photographed indoors, lit by windows or by Soo's studio photographic lamps.

Here's the final shot, with Cardhenge on the lawn between Soo and myself. Can you guess whose shoes are whose?

So that's the end of the official packet, and it has been fantastic. But Cardboard Stonehenge is not yet over! - we have a bit more still to add....

Thursday, 2 August 2007

We'll probably finish it next week!

Inded if it wasn't for work and leave we would probably have finished Cardhenge this week. We only have three of the pack's stones to do (31, 43 and 47) plus our two extra-special additional stones, so unless there's some urgent workload crisis next week, we're on the final run...

Yesterday Soo made stone 62, while I spent the day in Derbyshire looking at some of the real stone circles in the Peak District, including Nine Ladies, Seven Stones Close, Frogatt Edge and Barbrook. These are all on a much more personal and informal scale than Stonehenge - Frogatt Edge was almost hidden under ferns.

Monday, 30 July 2007

Seeing things ...

Two more bluestones get made today, 61 and 68. Analysis of the real stone 68 at the beginning of the 20th century showed that it had been set into the rubble which supports stone 56 in its own hole, thereby proving that the large sarsen trilithons were put in place before the smaller bluestones.

Brian and Lizzie Sanders have explained the answer to the riddles of the antlerless deer and the shielded man. Here I have photoshopped some lines onto the Cardhenge stones, to show how it all works. The deer with no antlers is stone 3:

and the man with the shield on his back is stone 58:

It's possible to see shapes in some of the other stones too. Today we tend to assume that these are happy accidents, but were these shapes visible to neolithic humans too, and were they the reasons why these particular stones were chosen, rather than others?

The caves of Lascaux and elsewhere in France are full of instances of animal-shaped outcrops of rock being painted as the animal itself. The most convincing theory of the creation of paleaolithic cave art (a.k.a. the theory I like best...) is that the ancient cave dwellers believed that real spirit animals lived in the walls of the caves, and that shamans could engage with these animals during their drug-fuelled visions. Whereas today we see cave walls as being seriously solid objects, in the neolithic mind they may have been paper-thin membranes, through which the visible world and the spirit world touched... Could the same be true of the stones in the stone circles of the British Isles?

Here is my impression of how Cardhenge stone 3 may have looked thousands of years ago, when its Lego builders painted it to commemorate the Lego deer god they believed slept within, and which could be freed during terrifying shamanic rituals.

At Cardhenge, of course, the faces of the stones literally are paper-thin. Are there spirit beings living inside, waiting to be freed? The packaging does not say.

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Yes! - you can now buy cardboard Stonehenge from the English Heritage shop!

Woooh, this is a genuine result - English Heritage have resumed selling this awesome model from their shop at Stonehenge, and you can buy it online from them too. You really must buy this model... Soo and I both think that Cardhenge is easily the best thing we have bought all year.

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Meditations on finished-ness

Our most loyal reader, Unkle E in Australia whom we have never met, has asked some questions which really deserve answering in the main blog, his first one being how close we are to finishing the circle... well we have done about 70-ish stones, and only have six to go from the official packet, although we also have two special additional stones which we are saving to the end - you'll hear more about these soon. In theory we could finish the circle by Friday at this rate, but we're not around for the rest of the week (Soo will be on leave and I have been called out on work trips) so it's not going to be done just yet.

Here's some before-and-after photos of stone 70, which I have done at lunchtime today, to show you just how tiny the remaining stones are.

Of course, this begs the question of whether there actually ever was a 'finished' Stonehenge in the first place. The real Stonehenge is known to have gone through numerous changes of design while it was slowly being built, the bluestones being a good example of this: they were all dragged there with the intention of being erected in a circle, but the circle was never completed, the stones were removed, and their holes were filled in. Some of the bluestones were then re-erected in a horseshoe layout a few centuries later.

This seems quite common with stone circles in Britain. It is accepted by archaeologists that many of the recumbent stone circles in north eastern Scotland were never finished. At Arbor Low in Derbyshire, the stones are lying on their sides; Aubrey Burl in his book thinks they all blew down over the years, but other experts have pointed out that there's no archaeological evidence of any holes ever being dug for them, so perhaps the project was abandoned.

Uncompleted projects are familiar from other ancient cultures too. After Djoser's Step Pyramid was constructed in Old Kingdom Egypt none of his successors - Sekhemkhet, Khaba, perhaps Huni too - managed to get higher than a few courses until Sneferu built one at Dahshur. Djoser's pyramid would have towered above his successors' feeble attempts, a mute indictment of their failure.

Abandoned, half-completed projects are something wholly foreign to the modern western world, of course.

Monday, 23 July 2007

And another three stones...

Soo and I have cut, scored, folded and glued stones 33, 49 and 129 during our lunchtime today... they are all fairly wee stones but in fact these little ones are very atmospheric. The large trilithons form the recognisably iconic part of the structure, but the scattered and broken remnants add to the feelings of remoteness and mystery.

Friday, 20 July 2007

Two more wee little stones

Soo has just finished stone 38 - "ah, sweet" she says - and I have just placed stone 130 onto its uprights. There hasn't been much time this week to do very much as we have had some major deadlines to meet on work projects. Roll on next week!

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Meditations on underground access

The renegade firefighter heads underground only to crash in the subway next to the English Heritage souvenir shop. And so the chase comes to an end.

The underground access to the real Stonehenge has received much criticism over the years since it was built in 1968, but in my mind it has a great deal of symbolic significance. The modern entrances to many heritage buildings are too simplistic: they are above ground, with simple linear access to the monuments, thus denying them any sense of mystery. At Stonehenge it is different. There is nothing linear about access at all. Instead, you have to park your car on the wrong side of the road from the monument, then pass through an underground subway, which symbolises your death and rebirth. When you emerge from the ground you are a new being; you are now on the right side of the road, in the sacred space, and you are now allowed to approach the holy place. You then make one full circuit of Stonehenge following the path laid out by English Heritage, in the same manner that thousands of pilgrims before you have done. Then you pass back through the underworld to return to the secular reality from whence you came.

It is interesting how many stone circle sites in England have strange kinks in their modern access routes. At Avebury for instance, the lane from the National Trust car park kinks and meanders it way past houses and gardens before emerging in the village street. At Stanton Drew there is a dog-leg approach from the car park to the circle, seemingly for no reason other than the farmer's whim to make it so, because a straight-line, linear approach would be just as possible, as far as I can tell. Arbor Low and Boscawen Un have strange dog-leg walks too.

Why should this be? Perhaps there is an unconscious need to make access difficult, or to make it special. By forcing the visitor to make turns and twists in order to reach the monument, the paths are forcing the visitor to exert righteous effort. And Stonehenge, by symbolising death and rebirth in its underground subway, has perhaps the best modern access of all.

A masculine stone

Here is stone 58, Alan's favourite stone, as seen from two different angles. It's getting quite tricky to photograph the stones of the inner circle now that the outer circle is more or less complete. This sarsen trilithon had to be hewn from not one or two but three pieces of card. A herculean effort on Alan's part I think you will agree.

Friday, 13 July 2007

The A344 forms an attractive addition to the model

The impact of the real Stonehenge is enhanced by the presence of the A344 trunk road linking Amesbury and Devizes. The road gives European juggernaut drivers a chance to appreciate the silence and sprituality of the circle, as they thunder past with their cargoes of magazines and beauty products.

So we have modelled the road.

Here you can see our brave Lego police motorcyclist on the trail of a renegade fire fighter.

While all this excitement has been going on I have added stone 160B and Soo has added stone 41.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Alan's favourite stone so far ...

... is stone 58, one of the inner sarsen trilithons. This has been very satisfying to make. It's a very masculine stone somehow, all rugged and chipped and gnarled, whereas Soo's favourite has been stone 56, a much smoother stone, with graceful and subtle curves.

Now that we've made 58 we have also been able to remove stone 158 from its glacial agony, and install it on top.

Monday, 9 July 2007

Ice Ice Baby

One unexplained puzzle about the real Stonehenge is how the bluestones managed to get all the way from the mountains of Wales to Salisbury plain. Many scientists think that the stones could only have arrived there naturally, by prehistoric glaciers: the stones were carried by the glacial action as far as Salisbury, at which time the climate warmed, the glaciers melted, and the bluestones were left lying on the ground.

We have tried to re-enact this for the construction of our cardboard Stonehenge. The freezer compartment in our office fridge had a great chunk of ice in it, which we chipped out, and used as a means of transport to carry stone 158, which Soo made on Friday. Here you can see the Legomen watch its progress.

It is now Monday, but the stone has not travelled very far.

Friday, 6 July 2007

We have discovered some leys

Indeed we have. In 1909 astronomer Sir Norman Lockyer claimed to have discovered alignments between Stonehenge and other ancient monuments in the area; he was followed by Alfred Watkins and various successors who asserted the existence of "leys," straight lines crossing the English landscape.

We thought we would check to see whether our unfinished Cardhenge ties in with similar leys. So we wheeled it into the centre of the office, and guess what? - there seem to be dozens! We have marked the main ones on the photo. There appear to be many such lines of force, criss-crossing our office like laser beams in a Mission Impossible film.

Thursday, 5 July 2007

Another stone ...

Not much free time to do very much today: Soo is at her lunchtime watercolours course, and I need to go into town to get my motorbike fixed.

Time enough, though, to add stone 15, which is one of the shattered fragments of the largest trilithon in the inner sarsen circle. Originally this trilithon would have stood 24 feet high. Today only one upright remains, this being the 'nipple stone' which we made back on 12 June; the other two lie in pieces on the ground on the south western side of the monument.

Wednesday, 4 July 2007


Today stone 14 has joined its companions. More importantly, however, Britain has been flooded over the past few weeks, and our cardboard Stonehenge is no exception. Here you can see a quick snapshot Soo has taken of the rain pouring down on Cardhenge. The Lego men have had to find refuge next to a mountain of files, where it is dry. Let's hope the site dries out by tomorrow.

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Yes! - the original model IS still available!

Brian and Lizzie Sanders, who are the original artists behind this awesome model, have contacted us to say that cardboard Stonehenge is available from Moduni in Germany, Book Ends in London, and directly from themselves. We've added links to Moduni and Sanders-Art in the links bit on the right. Isn't the web great?

Monday, 2 July 2007

Meditations on stability

Stones 122 and 154 get placed on top of their uprights today. Stone 122 is famous for getting smashed in half in 1900, when a gale blew it from its perch and hurled it 80 feet across the ground.

Oddly, the more you learn about the real Stonehenge the more fragile and contingent it becomes. It seems to fall apart at the slightest puff of wind. I think at least three stones have fallen or blown over from 1900 to the present day, and it seems statistically likely to me that another one will topple within our lifetime. This is very different from the iconic Stonehenge image familiar from UK national branding, where the monument is celebrated for being 'constant' and 'unchanging'.

Our cardboard Stonehenge, which would appear to be under no such national identity pressure, is in fact very much like the real henge in that it too is an extraordinarily delicate structure. Especially if it gets knocked onto the office floor.

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Cardhenge progress slows due to workload...

Not much news recently as Soo and I have been at meetings, or on training, or on trips to London to see how real heritage organisations work etc. Work, eh?

Today is the first day for a while that we have had a proper lunchbreak, so up goes stone 22, a sarsen on the west side of the outer circle, which fell down in 1900 taking its lintel with it.

Friday, 22 June 2007

Product unavailable shock

Two more stones - 21 and 16 - make the transformation from flat cardboard potentiality to 3D cardboard reality. More importantly, however, English Heritage's Customer Services people have replied to my request to get them to sell this fantastic model in their online shop:

Unfortunately the product is now discontinued, we're glad you are enjoying it so much though and thanks for supporting English Heritage.

Wh-aaaat?? They're NOT selling cardboard Stonehenge anymore?? How rubbish is that!

Thursday, 21 June 2007

The dawn of a new day

Sunrise this morning, Thursday 21 June 2007, shone clear and bright across our cardboard Stonehenge, witnessed only by our Lego watchmen. From tomorrow the summer sunrise will start to track slowly back across the eastern horizon, rising further and further towards the south, passing due east in September - the equinox - until it reaches due south east in December, at which point the apparent motion of the sun will reverse and the location of the dawnlight will dance back northwards. And so the celestial cycle carries ever on.

In our modern business world of linear time, we have deadlines and schedules and completion dates. But neolithic communities lived in a world of cyclic time; what goes around, comes around. We have not been able to finish Cardhenge for this particular summer solstice, but what does it matter? The heavens turn, and another celestial event will come.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

The crowds gather

When I came into the office this morning the Lego people were lined up in anticipation of the forthcoming solstice. The policeman is attempting to keep order but I fear the tape will be down by the end of the day.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

The summer solstice draws near

The summer solstice occurs later this week, and the time has come for many of Stonehenge's ancient rituals to be carried out.

One of the most ancient and mysterious traditions is the ceremony in which Wiltshire Constabulary tape off the centre of Stonehenge with the sacred yellow and black chevron tape. Many illegal ravers, hippies and regional TV news crews often visit Stonehenge just to watch the police carry out this ceremony. Here the police have taped off Cardhenge in preparation for Thursday's sunrise.

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Beautiful curves

Soo has made stone 56, a wonderfully sinuous stone which seems to curve inwards near its top. The nipple you can see at the very top of the stone is a stone tenon joint - Stonehenge's builders were inexperienced in the use of stone as a building material, so they used carpentry techniques, including mortise and tenon joints. It could also be said that modern office workers are equally inexperienced in the use of cardboard, to judge from the amount of glue which ends up on our fingertips.

The real stone is about 30 feet high, of which about nine feet is hidden in the ground. It was leaning over precariously until 1901 when it was straightened up. Excavations conducted at its base in that year showed that it had been originally lowered down a ramp into a hole dug with antler picks and flint tools, then levered upright, and its hole filled up with stone wedges and chalk rubble.

Monday, 11 June 2007

An artist at work

As you can see, my fingers are much fatter and monkeylike than Soo's. This is a shot of stone 152 being folded into shape before it gets put in place as a lintel in the inner horsehoe.

Friday, 8 June 2007

The Mycenaean axes ARE there!

Yes they are! Today Soo has made stone 34, which is a dinky wee little thing, and I've made stone 53, which was the first stone discovered to have carvings of axe designs, way back in 1953 by RJC Atkinson, when late afternoon summer sunshine shone obliquely across the face of stone 53, throwing the images into clear relief. And a close examination of the cardboard version under bleak office lighting reveals the same thing! Here I have circled the area containing the tiny axe designs:

The discovery of these axes forms a major new contribution to the field of Cardhenge studies, as it unequivocally dates the formation of the cardboard to the Mediterranean Bronze Age.

Thursday, 7 June 2007

The Eastern Front

Yes! - stone 30 has now been slotted into place, which pretty much completes the whole of the eastern side, as far as the uprights go. (We still need to put most of the lintels on top.)

It's between stone 30 and its neighbour, stone 101, that you get to see the midsummer sunrise on June 21, so stone 30 is one that appears on lots of photos. Our Lego men cannot wait for the real sunrise to take place - certainly they will be the only people in the office at dawn on June 21 - I suspect sunrise is a wee bit too early for Soo and me to make an appearance at work. We will set the cardboard model up in the correct orientation on the afternoon of June 20, and place the Lego men in the best viewing positions.

Wednesday, 6 June 2007


Our colleagues come in regularly to see how the henge is progressing. Here are some of the comments we have had so far: "What's that?", "Why do you want to do that?", "It's fantastic", "You can really see the sinewiness of the stones", "I think you have a bit of an issue with the scale" and "It's so realistic."

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

The Fall

Today we have added stones 1 and 23. Stoneheads will recall that stone 1 was leaning over at a scary angle until the restoration of 1920, when it was straightened up. Stone 23 is famous because it actually fell over in March 1963, after which it was re-erected into a concrete base. In our cardboard reconstruction the concrete has been expertly modelled in Copydex.

We still have 40+ stones to make so it's now looking like we're not going to make our informal Summer Solstice deadline, but we'll try to get most of it up by 21 June.

Thursday, 31 May 2007


Oh dear, it's the evil spiders from Metebelis 3!

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Look who's here

As you can see, we have captured a vist from our favourite timelord. We think he is here on an important asignment. He is being as evasive as ever so we have not managed to wheedle the secrets of the stones out of him as yet. I wonder what the threat to the earth is this time?

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Wot no axes

Stone no. 4 goes in, completing another trilithon. This particular stone was one of those discovered in 1953 to have been decorated with Mycenaean-style axe designs, I've had a good look at the cardboard version but can't see any axe decorations on it... Ah well. It's the fifth vertical stone from the left in this panoramic photo.

Thursday, 24 May 2007

Stone no. 8

Stone no. 8 has joined its companions on the outer circle. This one seemed particularly tricky for some reason and I have had to use masses of Copydex. Copydex is great stuff - it dries a translucent grey stoney colour, so it can be used like Polyfilla to hide any gaps in the cardboard joins.

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Dowsing the cardboard

It's a beautifully sunny day here, so there's only time to make a small stone, very quickly, and stick it down. Here you can see Legoman dowse the site for water to quench his thirst.

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Heave ho! Heave ho!

Stone no 3 is dragged all the way from the Welsh cardboard mountains to the outer circle.

Friday, 18 May 2007

Closer to the stones

For me, this lunchtime project is very rewarding. It is a pleasant contrast to work with the hands and make a physical object instead of doing virtual work on a computer screen. Concentrating on making one stone at a time takes me far away from the frantic office environment in which I am trying to do ten things at once. Having never been to Stonehenge, I find it is a great way to familiarise myself with the monument. Also, I feel I am closer to the stones than you can actually be when you visit the site. All in all, it's a intimate and tactile experience, spiritually refreshing, and a great pastime when it is raining outside.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Fingertip work

Stones 10 and 12 safely go in. This shot of Soo's fingers shows how fiddly the stones can be:

The model so far ...

OK we've started this blog a little late - we've already made 17 stones. So this is how the model looks so far. We're well impressed with the quality of the cardboard cut-outs, they actually look stone shaped rather than box shaped, full of curves and hollows and things.

Sunday, 13 May 2007

The raw material

Here's what we're making it from - the cardboard stonehenge kit made by Brian and Lizzie Sanders of sanders-art.

Alan bought it in April from the gift shop at Stonehenge itself, when he was on holiday in Wiltshire with his family. Even in the packet it looks great. OK, it doesn't seem to have the Heel Stone, which is a pity, and it doesn't say what scale it is, so we don't know if the Lego men will be to scale or not. And these little things matter, don't they? But we've started to make it anyway.

And so it begins

We work in a British archives service - running databases, creating digital photographs of historical documents, all that sort of thing. But we need a break from staring at computers all day, so in our lunch break we are building Stonehenge. Out of cardboard.

When it's all done, we'll fill it with Lego druids and align it with the sun!