| 9 July 2005
Replica TV Stonehenge in need of a new home
If you have a large garden and would like a full-size replica of Stonehenge to impress your neighbours and visitors then you need to speak to Marlborough archaeologist Mike Pitts. Mr Pitts was one of a team of archaeologists who contributed to a live TV programme in which a life-sized replica was put up. Now the production company Darlow Smithson, which produced the documentary for Channel 5, is hoping to find a suitable new home for the replica monument. The biggest problem is that it measures 33 metres across. The good news, however, is that it is light to carry about because all of the replica stones are made of Polystyrene.
Mr Pitt said the making of the exact replica of the 4,500 year old monument was not just a TV gimmick. The programme Stonehenge Live went out on the night of the summer solstice, June 20, and included footage of the real monument and the gathering of Druids and others waiting to see the sun rise over the heel stone. While the thousands were gathering at Stonehenge for the midsummer spectacle, a group of academics historians, archaeologists, astronomers and a handful of Druids saw the sun rise over an identical stone circle.
Exact copies of each stone at Stonehenge were made from Polystyrene at a military camp near Bicester, the only place big enough the programme makers could find. It took a fleet of 14 articulated lorries to transport the replica stones to Wiltshire. They had been made in pieces and put together like a giant jigsaw. He said the finished result was amazing because it was the first time for four centuries that Stonehenge could be seen as it was when originally built. "To walk into a Stonehenge that was newly built was just amazing," said the archaeologist and author. On solstice night actors dressed as Bronze Age people mingled with Druids for the filming.
Mr Pitts said the most important aspect for him as an archaeologist was the detailed inspection of the real monument that had to be carried out so that the stones could be replicated. He said: "I realised how little time we had actually spent before looking at the stones themselves. We are talking seriously about a proper modern survey of the megaliths using modern techniques." He added such a survey could reveal much about the stones, where they had become from, the way they had been shaped and possibly the way they were originally put up.
Anyone wishing to acquire the replica should get in contact with Channel Five.
Source: Gazette & Herald, This is Wiltshire (7 July 2005)
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